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zodiac

[zoh-dee-ak]
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noun
  1. an imaginary belt of the heavens, extending about 8° on each side of the ecliptic, within which are the apparent paths of the sun, moon, and principal planets. It contains twelve constellations and hence twelve divisions called signs of the zodiac. Each division, however, because of the precession of the equinoxes, now contains the constellation west of the one from which it took its name.Compare sign of the zodiac.
  2. a circular or elliptical diagram representing this belt, and usually containing pictures of the animals, human figures, etc., that are associated with the constellations and signs.
  3. a circuit or round.

Origin of zodiac

1350–1400; Middle English zodiaque < Latin zōdiacus < Greek zōidiakòs (kýklos) signal (circle), equivalent to zṓidi(on) animal sign (zô(ion) animal + -idion diminutive suffix) + -akos -ac
Related formszo·di·a·cal [zoh-dahy-uh-kuh l] /zoʊˈdaɪ ə kəl/, adjectivenon·zo·di·a·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for zodiacal

Historical Examples

  • It was the zodiacal light, an aurora borealis on a scale inconceivable!

    The Black Star Passes

    John W Campbell

  • The zodiacal signs which the sun enters at the equinoxes and solstices.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • Now, for the first time, I saw what is called the zodiacal light.

  • That is clearly indicated by my latest pondering of the zodiacal signs.

    Blacksheep! Blacksheep!

    Meredith Nicholson

  • These are known respectively as the Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein.

    Astronomy of To-day

    Cecil G. Dolmage


British Dictionary definitions for zodiacal

zodiac

noun
  1. an imaginary belt extending 8° either side of the ecliptic, which contains the 12 zodiacal constellations and within which the moon and planets appear to move. It is divided into 12 equal areas, called signs of the zodiac, each named after the constellation which once lay in itSee zodiacal constellation
  2. astrology a diagram, usually circular, representing this belt and showing the symbols, illustrations, etc, associated with each of the 12 signs of the zodiac, used to predict the future
  3. rare a complete circuit; circle
Derived Formszodiacal (zəʊˈdaɪəkəl), adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zōdiacus, from Greek zōidiakos (kuklos) (circle) of signs, from zōidion animal sign, carved figure, from zōion animal
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

Word Origin and History for zodiacal

zodiac

n.

late 14c., from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zodiacus "zodiac," from Greek zodiakos (kyklos) "zodiac (circle)," literally "circle of little animals," from zodiaion, diminutive of zoion "animal" (see zoo).

Libra is not an animal, but it was not a zodiac constellation to the Greeks, who reckoned 11 but counted Scorpio and its claws (including what is now Libra) as a "double constellation." Libra was figured back in by the Romans. In Old English the zodiac was twelf tacna "the twelve signs," and in Middle English also Our Ladye's Waye and the Girdle of the Sky.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

zodiacal in Science

zodiac

[zōdē-ăk′]
  1. A band of the celestial sphere extending about eight degrees north and south of the ecliptic, representing the portion of the sky within which the paths of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets are found. In astrology, the zodiac is divided into 12 equal segments, each of which is named after a constellation through which the ecliptic passes in that region of the sky. The traditional beginning point of constellations is Aries, followed in calendrical order by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. See also equinox.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

zodiacal in Culture

zodiac

A band of the sky along which the sun, the moon, and most of the planets move. It is divided into twelve parts, with each part named for a nearby constellation.

Note

The twelve constellations, or signs, of the zodiac are important in astrology.

zodiac

The imaginary band in the sky through which the sun, the moon, and the planets appear to move. The twelve constellations in the band (Aquarius, Pisces, and so on) are the familiar signs of the zodiac used in astrology.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.