ze·​nith | \ ˈzē-nəth How to pronounce zenith (audio) , Canadian also and British usually ˈze-nəth, -nith \

Definition of zenith

1 : the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir and vertically above the observer — see azimuth illustration
2 : the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body
3 : culminating point : acme at the zenith of his powers— John Buchan

Reaching the Zenith

When you reach the zenith, you're at the top, the pinnacle, the summit, the peak. Zenith developed from Arabic terms meaning "the way over one's head," and then traveled through Old Spanish, Medieval Latin, and Middle French before arriving in English. As long ago as the 1300s, English speakers used zenith to name the highest point in the celestial heavens, directly overhead. By the 1600s, zenith was being used for other high points as well. The celestial term is often contrasted with nadir, or the point that is vertically downward from the observer (imagine a line going through the earth from the observer's feet and out the other side into the sky). Figuratively, nadir simply means "the lowest point."

Examples of zenith in a Sentence

at the zenith of her career as a dancer
Recent Examples on the Web The noise of the crowd probably reached its zenith when Stricker had three straight birdies on Nos. Ben Steele, Journal Sentinel, 12 June 2022 The loyalty between Calvi and Stokes reached perhaps its zenith this past Sunday against Arkansas State. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 13 May 2022 International trade as a percentage of world gross domestic product peaked in 2008 and shows no signs of recovering its zenith, according to the World Bank. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Apr. 2022 There’s a sense that the sneaker space has reached some kind of zenith where everything is a collab and companies build hype around launches practically daily. New York Times, 10 Mar. 2022 Not even President Lyndon Johnson, during liberalism’s Great Society zenith, could find the votes to repeal Taft-Hartley. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 9 Feb. 2022 The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese's 1978 documentary, captures the group at its zenith, according to the Arkansas Encyclopedia. Bill Bowden, Arkansas Online, 30 May 2022 With America's appetite for Korean culture at a zenith and the golf apparel market growing rapidly, JDX sees a growth opportunity for its fairway fashions. Justin Birnbaum, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 Executive producer Shaffer, who’s worked on every season of the series with David, says that mosaic style of storytelling gets pushed to its zenith in Season 11. Scott Huver, Variety, 23 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zenith.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of zenith

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for zenith

Middle English cenyth, senyth, from Middle French cenit, from Medieval Latin, from Old Spanish zenit, modification of Arabic samt (al-ra's) way (over one's head)

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Last Updated

28 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zenith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zenith. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for zenith


ze·​nith | \ ˈzē-nəth How to pronounce zenith (audio) \

Kids Definition of zenith

1 : the point in the sky directly overhead
2 : the highest point or stage She was at the zenith of her career.

More from Merriam-Webster on zenith

Nglish: Translation of zenith for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of zenith for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zenith


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