• synonyms


[pahr-hee-lee-uh n, -heel-yuh n]
noun, plural par·he·li·a [pahr-hee-lee-uh, -heel-yuh] /pɑrˈhi li ə, -ˈhil yə/. Meteorology.
  1. a bright circular spot on a solar halo; a mock sun: usually one of two or more such spots seen on opposite sides of the sun, and often accompanied by additional luminous arcs and bands.
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Compare paraselene.

Origin of parhelion

1640–50; alteration of Latin parēlion < Greek parḗlion, noun use of neuter of parḗlios beside the sun. See par-, helio-
Also called sundog.
Related formspar·he·lic, par·he·li·a·cal [pahr-hi-lahy-uh-kuh l] /ˌpɑr hɪˈlaɪ ə kəl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for parhelion

Historical Examples of parhelion

  • I do not always know him in these cases as my own parhelion.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 57, No. 356, June, 1845


  • A Parhelion is a meteor in form of a bright light, appearing on one side of the sun.

  • Once or twice he saw a fourth parhelion, directly under the sun; but this is not common.

  • At each point of contact occurs a parhelion which is a mock sun of brilliant colors and called a sun-dog.

    Reading the Weather

    Thomas Morris Longstreth

  • A parhelion or mock sun observed near Marienburg in western Prussia.

British Dictionary definitions for parhelion


noun plural -lia (-lɪə)
  1. one of several bright spots on the parhelic circle or solar halo, caused by the diffraction of light by ice crystals in the atmosphere, esp around sunsetAlso called: mock sun, sundog Compare anthelion
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Derived Formsparhelic (pɑːˈhiːlɪk, -ˈhɛlɪk) or parheliacal (ˌpɑːhɪˈlaɪəkəl), adjective

Word Origin for parhelion

C17: via Latin from Greek parēlion, from para- 1 (beside) + hēlios sun
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 parhelion


1640s, from Greek parelion "a mock sun," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + helios "sun" (see sol).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

parhelion in Science


Plural parhelia
  1. A white spot appearing at times in the parhelic circle. White parhelia are believed to form from light that is reflected off of atmospheric ice crystals; colored parhelia are believed to form from light that is refracted by atmospheric ice crystals. Multiple parhelia can often be seen simultaneously. Compare anthelion.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.