Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The intersection plane of the earth's orbit with the celestial sphere, along which the sun appears to move as viewed from the earth.
  • n. A great circle inscribed on a terrestrial globe inclined at an approximate angle of 23°27ʹ to the equator and representing the apparent motion of the sun in relation to the earth during a year.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The apparent path of the Sun in the sky. More accurately, it is the intersection of the celestial sphere with the plane of the ecliptic, which is the geometric plane containing the mean orbit of the Earth around the Sun. So named because an eclipse can occur only when the Moon lies on this plane.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to the ecliptic.
  • adj. Pertaining to an eclipse or to eclipses.
  • n. A great circle of the celestial sphere, making an angle with the equinoctial of about 23° 28'. It is the apparent path of the sun, or the real path of the earth as seen from the sun.
  • n. A great circle drawn on a terrestrial globe, making an angle of 23° 28' with the equator; -- used for illustrating and solving astronomical problems.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to an eclipse.
  • Pertaining to the apparent path of the sun in the heavens: as, ecliptic constellations.
  • n. In astronomy, a great circle of the heavens in the plane of the earth's orbit, or that of the apparent annual motion of the sun among the stars.
  • n. A great circle drawn upon a terrestrial globe, tangent to the tropics.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the great circle representing the apparent annual path of the sun; the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun; makes an angle of about 23 degrees with the equator

Etymologies

Middle English ecliptik, from Medieval Latin (līnea) eclīptica, ecliptic (line), from Latin eclīpticus, of an eclipse, from Greek ekleiptikos, from ekleipein, to fail to appear; see eclipse.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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  • Another usage on colures.

    October 12, 2008

  • Now those noble golden coins of South America are as medals of the sun and tropic token-pieces. Here palms, alpacas, and volcanoes; sun's disks and stars, ecliptics, horns-of-plenty, and rich banners waving, are in luxuriant profusion stamped ...

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 99

    July 29, 2008