[ zee-nith or, especially British, zen-ith ]
See synonyms for zenith on Thesaurus.com
  1. the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer.: Compare nadir.

  2. a highest point or state; culmination.

Origin of zenith

1350–1400; Middle English cenith<Medieval Latin <Old Spanish zenit, scribal error for zemt<Arabic samt road, incorrectly read as senit by medieval scribes (compare Arabic samt ar-rās road above (over) one's head, the opposite of nadir)

Other words for zenith

Opposites for zenith

Words that may be confused with zenith

Words Nearby zenith

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use zenith in a sentence

  • The major labor unions - then at the zenith of their political power - disliked Johnson.

  • In 1986, at the zenith of her strength, that figure was reduced to 1.9 million.

  • The sky was alight from zenith to horizon, the Nile aflame with sunrise, by the time the letter was written.

    The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
  • The leathered Diapason, indeed, is now attaining a zenith of popularity both in England and America.

  • Coloured shafts mapped the vault from horizon to zenith like the spokes of a prodigious wheel of fire.

    The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
  • The sun, a ball of fiery brass, burned directly in the zenith, so that the shadow of the foliage lay like a carpet about her feet.

    Dope | Sax Rohmer
  • How did it fare with the poor all over Europe in the centuries when Christianity was at the zenith of its power?

    God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford

British Dictionary definitions for zenith


/ (ˈzɛnɪθ, US ˈziːnɪθ) /

  1. astronomy the point on the celestial sphere vertically above an observer

  2. the highest point; peak; acme: the zenith of someone's achievements

Origin of zenith

C17: from French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Old Spanish zenit, based on Arabic samt, as in samt arrās path over one's head, from samt way, path + al the + rās head

Derived forms of zenith

  • zenithal, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for zenith


[ nĭth ]

  1. The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer (90 degrees above the celestial horizon). Compare nadir.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.