- a circle on a spherical surface such that the plane containing the circle passes through the center of the sphere.Compare small circle.
- a circle of which a segment represents the shortest distance between two points on the surface of the earth.
Origin of great circle
First recorded in 1585–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for great circle
It is by no means improbable that Cabot, who was an expert navigator, knew that great-circle sailing gave the shorter course.In Northern Mists (Volume 2 of 2)
Our voyaging is only great-circle sailing, and the doctors prescribe for diseases of the skin merely.Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau
This is not great-circle sailing, and the ship so navigated does not take the shortest path.
- a circular section of a sphere that has a radius equal to that of the sphereCompare small circle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
- A circle on the surface of a sphere whose plane passes through the center of the sphere. The Earth's equator is a great circle on the sphere of the globe.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.