Definitions

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

  • n. Astronomy A band of the celestial sphere extending about 8° to either side of the ecliptic that represents the path of the principal planets, the moon, and the sun.
  • n. In astrology, this band divided into 12 equal parts called signs, each 30° wide, bearing the name of a constellation for which it was originally named but with which it no longer coincides owing to the precession of the equinoxes.
  • n. A diagram or figure representing the zodiac.
  • n. A complete circuit; a circle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The belt-like region of the celestial sphere approximately eight degrees north and south of the ecliptic, which thousands of years ago included the apparent path of the sun, moon, and planets.
  • n. The twelve equal divisions of the astrological zodiacal region into signs, or houses, of the zodiac, each sign named after a constellation in this region.
  • n. The belt-like region of the celestial sphere corresponding to the apparent path of the sun over the course of a year, the ecliptic.
  • n. A circle decorated with the signs of the zodiac.
  • n. Any of various astrological systems considered similar to the above.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. An imaginary belt in the heavens, 16° or 18° broad, in the middle of which is the ecliptic, or sun's path. It comprises the twelve constellations, which one constituted, and from which were named, the twelve signs of the zodiac.
  • n. A figure representing the signs, symbols, and constellations of the zodiac.
  • n. A girdle; a belt.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Of the moon or of a planet, the belt of the heavens within which the moon or a planet moves.
  • n. A belt of twelve constellations, extending about 8° on each side of the ecliptic.
  • n. Figuratively, a round or circuit; a zone; a complete course.
  • n. In heraldry, a bearing representing a part of the imaginary zodiacal circle, forming an arched bend or bend sinister, and with several of the signs upon it, the number being specified in the blazon.

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

  • n. (astrology) a circular diagram representing the 12 zodiacal constellations and showing their signs
  • n. a belt-shaped region in the heavens on either side to the ecliptic; divided into 12 constellations or signs for astrological purposes

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zōdiacus, from Greek zōidiakos (kuklos), (circle) of the zodiac, from zōidion, small represented figure, zodiacal sign, diminutive of zōion, living being; see zoon1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English (late 14th century), from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zōdiācus, from Ancient Greek ζωδιακός [κύκλος] (zōdiakos [kuklos], "circle of little animals"), from ζώδι(αι)ον, the diminutive of ζῶον (zōon, "animal"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • The goat, sheep or ram is a sign of the Chinese zodiac (Yin, 4th Trine, fixed element fire). Persons who are born under this sign are said to exhibit certain characteristics such as righteousness, sincerity, sympathy, mildness, shyness, creativeness, gentleness, compassion, understanding, determination, generosity, but also moodiness, indecision, excessive passivity, worry, pessimism, excessive sensitivity, weak will, and a propensity to complain.

    February 18, 2010