Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer.
  • noun The upper region of the sky.
  • noun The highest point above the observer's horizon attained by a celestial body.
  • noun The point of culmination; the peak: synonym: summit.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Figuratively, the highest point, or summit, as of one's fortune; the culmination.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That point in the visible celestial hemisphere which is vertical to the spectator; the point of the heavens directly overhead; -- opposed to nadir.
  • noun hence, figuratively, the point of culmination; the greatest height; the height of success or prosperity.
  • noun (Astron.) See under Distance.
  • noun (Astron.) See Sector, 3.
  • noun (Geodesy) a telescope specially designed for determining the latitude by means of any two stars which pass the meridian about the same time, and at nearly equal distances from the zenith, but on opposite sides of it. It turns both on a vertical and a horizontal axis, is provided with a graduated vertical semicircle, and a level for setting it to a given zenith distance, and with a micrometer for measuring the difference of the zenith distances of the two stars.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English senith, from Old French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic samt (ar-ra’s), path (over the head), from Latin sēmita, path; see mei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

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

  • 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

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