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

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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 big-screen TV fell forward off the wall as the quake reached its zenith. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "'Scared to death': 7.1 earthquake follows 6.4, leaving Ridgecrest residents fearful, resilient," 6 July 2019 Dessau, just 40 minutes away, was where Bauhaus reached its zenith when the school moved here in 1925. Margo Pfeiff, latimes.com, "Exploring the birthplace of Bauhaus, a German movement that changed design," 16 June 2019 The event reaches its zenith at 9 p.m. with a Glow Yoga circle, led by Corbin Stacy, illuminated with complimentary glow warrior paints, glow-in-the dark necklaces and more (free registration at EventBrite.com). Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "Weekend preview: More sun, more yoga, Tom Petty, Patrick and the Swayzees," 19 June 2019 The night of nights Some day, when the current Golden State Warriors and their dynasty are just a warm, happy memory, the night of April 13, 2016 may be regarded as its zenith. Mark Dufrene, The Mercury News, "A timeline of 10 pulsating Oracle-era Warriors memories," 5 June 2019 Just as excitement for the arrival Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby was reaching its zenith, the Cambridge family was marking their own milestone. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Thank Fans Who Wished Prince Louis a Happy First Birthday," 29 May 2019 Royal gardens, peeling frescoes, and tiled mosaics are breathtaking in their beauty, but the zenith of any visit is a wander through the sultan’s harem, once home to hundreds of concubines and their eunuch guards. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Three Days In Istanbul," 28 Dec. 2018 The stock climbed back above $7 on Thursday, but is down more than 50% for the year and nearly 90% from its 2000 zenith. Thomas Gryta And Ted Mann, WSJ, "GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out," 14 Dec. 2018 While speculation has reached its zenith regarding the designer and cut of the bride's dress, there's much to be said for her upcoming nuptial beauty look. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "6 Bold Beauty Looks Only Priyanka Chopra Could Wear Down the Wedding Aisle," 1 Dec. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for zenith

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for zenith

The first known use of zenith was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for zenith



English Language Learners Definition of zenith

formal : the strongest or most successful period of time
technical : the highest point reached in the sky by the sun, moon, etc.


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.

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