Origin of satellite

1540–50; 1955–60 for def 2; < Latin satellit- (stem of satelles) attendant, member of bodyguard or retinue
Related formssat·el·lit·ed, adjective

Synonyms for satellite Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for satellite

Contemporary Examples of satellite

Historical Examples of satellite

  • Gibson was glad, after they had landed on the satellite, that he had taken the advice.

    Irresistible Weapon

    Horace Brown Fyfe

  • He was familiar with the fourth satellite of Jupiter and its fertile provinces.

    Loot of the Void

    Edwin K. Sloat

  • The ship swerved and headed for the Martian satellite to which he had been directed.

    Giants on the Earth

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • As they blasted, Strett's satellite began to move out of its orbit.

    Masters of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • He beckoned to his Chinese satellite and walked leisurely to the door.

British Dictionary definitions for satellite



a celestial body orbiting around a planet or starthe earth is a satellite of the sun
Also called: artificial satellite a man-made device orbiting around the earth, moon, or another planet transmitting to earth scientific information or used for communicationSee also communications satellite
a person, esp one who is obsequious, who follows or serves another
a country or political unit under the domination of a foreign power
a subordinate area or community that is dependent upon a larger adjacent town or city
(modifier) subordinate to or dependent upon anothera satellite nation
(modifier) of, used in, or relating to the transmission of television signals from a satellite to the housea satellite dish aerial


(tr) to transmit by communications satellite

Word Origin for satellite

C16: from Latin satelles an attendant, probably of Etruscan origin
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 satellite

1540s, "follower or attendant of a superior person," from Middle French satellite (14c.), from Latin satellitem (nominative satelles) "attendant, companion, courtier, accomplice, assistant," perhaps from Etruscan satnal (Klein), or a compound of roots *satro- "full, enough" + *leit- "to go" (Tucker); cf. English follow, which is constructed of similar roots.

Meaning "planet that revolves about a larger one" first attested 1660s, in reference to the moons of Jupiter, from Latin satellites, which was used in this sense 1610s by German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). Galileo, who had discovered them, called them Sidera Medicæa in honor of the Medici family. Meaning "man-made machinery orbiting the Earth" first recorded 1936 as theory, 1957 as fact. Meaning "country dependent and subservient to another" is recorded from 1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

satellite in Medicine




A minor structure accompanying a more important or larger one.
A short segment of a chromosome separated from the rest by a constriction, typically associated with the formation of a nucleolus.
A colony of microorganisms whose growth in culture medium is enhanced by certain substances produced by another colony in its proximity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

satellite in Science



A small body in orbit around a larger body. See Note at moon.
An object launched to orbit Earth or another celestial body. Satellites are used for research, communications, weather information, and navigation. The first artificial Earth satellite was Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviet Union in October 1957; the first successful American satellite was launched in January 1958.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

satellite in Culture


In politics, a nation that is dominated politically by another. The Warsaw Pact nations, other than the former Soviet Union itself, were commonly called satellites of the Soviet Union.


In astronomy, an object, whether natural (such as the moon) or artificial (such as a weather observation satellite), that revolves around a central body. (See under “World Politics.”)


Any object in orbit about some body capable of exerting a gravitational (see gravitation) force. Artificial satellites in orbit around the Earth have many uses, including relaying communication signals, making accurate surveys and inventories of the Earth's surface and weather patterns, and carrying out scientific experiments.

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.