ze·​nith ˈzē-nəth How to pronounce zenith (audio)
 Canadian also and British usually  ˈze-nəth,
: the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir and vertically above the observer see azimuth illustration
: the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body
: culminating point : acme
at the zenith of his powersJohn 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 an Arabic phrase 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, which refers to 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 With her latest leader, confirmed Friday, May 10, Lipa knocks off Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department (EMI), down 1-2 after two weeks at the chart zenith. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 13 May 2024 Meanwhile, the high street and all of its designer collaborations – Kate Moss’s beloved line for Topshop and Giles Deacon’s erstwhile New Look offering – was reaching its zenith. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 17 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for zenith 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zenith.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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)

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near zenith

Cite this Entry

“Zenith.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zenith. Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ze·​nith ˈzē-nəth How to pronounce zenith (audio)
: the point in the heavens directly overhead
: the highest point

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