verb (used with object)

to move or travel around in an orbital or elliptical path: The earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days.
to send into orbit, as a satellite.

verb (used without object)

to go or travel in an orbit.

Origin of orbit

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin orbita wheel track, course, circuit
Related formsor·bit·ar·y, adjectivenon·or·bit·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for orbit

Contemporary Examples of orbit

Historical Examples of orbit

  • The balance now describes an orbit around the center of revolution.

  • What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular?

    The Origin of Species

    Thomas H. Huxley

  • His could only be the impressions of an eyewitness in an orbit limited to his Brigade.

  • Is this too sudden a rushing from the centre to the verge of our orbit?

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Those ships have been put out in orbit, where we're hooked on to one of them.

    Pariah Planet

    Murray Leinster

British Dictionary definitions for orbit



astronomy the curved path, usually elliptical, followed by a planet, satellite, comet, etc, in its motion around another celestial body under the influence of gravitation
a range or field of action or influence; spherehe is out of my orbit
anatomy the bony cavity containing the eyeballNontechnical name: eye socket
  1. the skin surrounding the eye of a bird
  2. the hollow in which lies the eye or eyestalk of an insect or other arthropod
physics the path of an electron in its motion around the nucleus of an atom


to move around (a body) in a curved path, usually circular or elliptical
(tr) to send (a satellite, spacecraft, etc) into orbit
(intr) to move in or as if in an orbit

Word Origin for orbit

C16: from Latin orbita course, from orbis circle, orb
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 orbit

late 14c., "the eye socket," from Old French orbite or directly from Medieval Latin orbita, transferred use of Latin orbita "wheel track, beaten path, rut, course, orbit" (see orb). Astronomical sense first recorded 1690s in English; it was in classical Latin, revived in Gerard of Cremona's translation of Avicenna.


1946, from orbit (n.). Related: Orbited; orbiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

orbit in Medicine




orbital cavity
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

orbit in Science




The path followed by a celestial body or artificial satellite as it revolves around another body due to the force of gravity. Orbits are nearly elliptical or circular in shape and are very closely approximated by Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
One complete revolution of such a body. See Note at solar system.
A stable quantum state of an electron (or other particle) in motion around an atomic nucleus. See more at orbital.
Either of two bony hollows in the skull containing the eye and its associated structures.


To move in an orbit around another body.
To put into an orbit, as a satellite is put into orbit around the Earth.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

orbit in Culture


In astronomy, the path followed by an object revolving around another object, under the influence of gravitation (see satellite). In physics, the path followed by an electron within an atom. The planets follow elliptical orbits around the sun (see ellipse).


Informally, something is “in orbit” when its actions are controlled by an external agency or force: “The countries of eastern Europe were once in the orbit of the Soviet Union.”
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.

Idioms and Phrases with orbit


see in orbit.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.