[ zee-nith or, esp. British, zen-ith ]
/ ˈzi nɪθ or, esp. British, ˈzɛn ɪθ /


the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer.Compare nadir.
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)

Can be confused

nadir zenith
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for zenith

British Dictionary definitions for zenith


/ (ˈzɛnɪθ, US ˈziːnɪθ) /


astronomy the point on the celestial sphere vertically above an observer
the highest point; peak; acmethe zenith of someone's achievements
Compare nadir

Derived Forms

zenithal, adjective

Word Origin for 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
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

Science definitions for zenith


[ zēnĭth ]

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.