noun ze·nith \ˈzē-nəth, Canadian also and British usually ˈze-nəth, -nith\

Definition of zenith

  1. 1 :  the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir and vertically above the observer — see azimuth illustration

  2. 2 :  the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body

  3. 3 :  culminating point :  acme at the zenith of his powers — John Buchan

zenith was our Word of the Day on 04/03/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of zenith in a sentence

  1. at the zenith of her career as a dancer

Did You Know?

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."

Origin and Etymology of zenith

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

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Astronomy Terms

ZENITH Defined for English Language Learners


noun ze·nith \ˈzē-nəth, Canadian also and British usually ˈze-nəth, -nith\

Definition of zenith for English Language Learners

  • : the strongest or most successful period of time

  • : the highest point reached in the sky by the sun, moon, etc.

ZENITH Defined for Kids


noun ze·nith \ˈzē-nəth\

Definition of zenith for Students

  1. 1 :  the point in the sky directly overhead

  2. 2 :  the highest point or stage She was at the zenith of her career.

Seen and Heard

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a brief usually trivial fact

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