Definitions

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

  • n. The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer.
  • n. The upper region of the sky.
  • n. The highest point above the observer's horizon attained by a celestial body.
  • n. The point of culmination; the peak: the zenith of her career. See Synonyms at summit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The point in the sky vertically above a given position or observer; the point in the celestial sphere opposite the nadir.
  • n. The highest point in the sky reached by a celestial body.
  • n. Highest point or state; peak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That point in the visible celestial hemisphere which is vertical to the spectator; the point of the heavens directly overhead; -- opposed to nadir.
  • n. hence, figuratively, the point of culmination; the greatest height; the height of success or prosperity.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The vertical point of the heavens at any place, or the point directly above an observer's head; the upper pole of the celestial horizon. The opposed pole is the nadir.
  • n. Figuratively, the highest point, or summit, as of one's fortune; the culmination.

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

  • n. the point above the observer that is directly opposite the nadir on the imaginary sphere against which celestial bodies appear to be projected

Etymologies

Middle English senith, from Old French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic samt (ar-ra's), path (over the head), from Latin sēmita, path.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English senith, from cinit, from Old French cenit and/or Latin cenit, a transliteration of Arabic سمت (samt, "direction, path") which is in itself a weak abbreviation of سمت الرأس (samt ar-ra's, "direction of the head"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • By 1946, Still had developed his signature style, and the next two galleries show this work, what Mr. Sobel calls the zenith of his career.

    Still's Stalwart

  • That's lazy writing at its zenith, which is reason #5: Conservatives think we're stupid and won't notice.

    Jim David: Kathy Griffin, and Why Conservatives Aren't Funny

  • But the only zones of the globe in which the moon passes the zenith, that is, the point directly over the head of the spectator, are of necessity comprised between the twenty-eighth parallels and the equator.

    From the Earth to the Moon

  • Some day for us shall come into that blank sky-horizon which is called the zenith, a stranger, a man or a god, perhaps not like ourselves, yet having affinities with ourselves, and correlating ourselves to some family of men or gods of which we are all lost children.

    A Tramp's Sketches

  • Your actual position on the earth will be projected in a point called your zenith, i.e., the point directly overhead.

    Lectures in Navigation

  • The whole of the western sky right up to the zenith was a finely shaded study in brilliant orange and yellow.

    The Wonder

  • Night withdrew to the eastern edges of the heavens; the sky to the zenith was a glistening orange, blurred with shadowy up-rollings of smoke, along the city's crest the torn flame ribbons playing like northern lights.

    Treasure and Trouble Therewith A Tale of California

  • The sky from the earth to the zenith was a vast expanse of illuminated smoke, and the black landscape round about was cut by rivulets of molten lava rolling on and on like restless streams of quicksilver.

    The Changing Sun

  • In the zenith was a white lustre which obliterated distinction of form as much as did the cloudy obscurity at the end of the room.

    Idolatry A Romance

  • During this march we saw, above the summits of the great land mountains which were still visible to the south of us, a flaming blade of yellow light which reached half way to the zenith -- in other words, after nearly five months, we could almost see the sun again as he skimmed along just under the southern horizon.

    The North Pole Its Discovery in 1909 under the auspices of the Peary Arctic Club

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  • The highest point of its orbit

    June 22, 2008

  • Largest city in Winnemac, and a setting for several Sinclair Lewis novels.

    January 19, 2008