great circle

  1. a circle on a spherical surface such that the plane containing the circle passes through the center of the sphere.Compare small circle.
  2. 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for great circle

Historical Examples of great circle

British Dictionary definitions for great circle

great circle

  1. 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

great circle in Science

great circle

  1. 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.