zenith

noun ze·nith \ ˈzē-nəth , Canadian also and British usually ˈze-nəth , -nith \
Updated on: 18 Nov 2017

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

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

Recent Examples of zenith from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of 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)

Other Astronomy Terms


ZENITH Defined for English Language Learners

zenith

noun

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

zenith

noun ze·nith \ ˈzē-nəth \

Definition of zenith for Students

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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