• The lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization.
  • (Astronomy) The point on the celestial sphere directly below an observer. The opposite of “zenith.”

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Example Sentences

“At the nadir of his sales career, he decided to try a new path and go back to school.”

“I couldn’t find the Ursa Major constellation, because it was positioned at my nadir.”

“You can see by these charts that our revenue reached its nadir in 2011 and recovered over the next five years.”

Word Origin

Arabic, late 14th century

Why this word?

“Nadir” comes from the Arabic word “naẓīr,” which means “opposite to the zenith, the highest point in the celestial sky” (or the point directly above the observer). The original usage of this word applied to astronomy. For example, if you were to go outside and look directly up at the sky, then draw an imaginary line from that point in the sky down through your body, straight through the Earth and into the sky on the other side of the world, that celestial point would be your nadir. In regard to its more modern metaphorical definition, many brilliant people have had to reach their nadir, or low point, before finding the success we remember them for. For example, Van Gogh famously didn’t achieve critical success until the very last years of his life but is now revered as one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

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