- The time at which something is most powerful or successful.
- The point in the sky or celestial sphere directly above an observer; the opposite of nadir.
- The highest point reached by a celestial or other object.
“My grandmother said she didn’t reach her zenith until she was in her 50s.”
“When the sun is at the zenith, you’re at great risk of sunburn.”
“I hoped to see the star in its zenith tonight, but it’s too cloudy to see anything.”
Latin, late 14th century
Why this word?
“Zenith” usually refers to objects in the sky — either the highest point a celestial object (or satellite) can reach in its orbit, or the point in the sky directly over an observer. The word was later borrowed for a metaphorical usage describing a peak in success or power. A person reaches their zenith when they receive the highest award in their field, for example. An electronic device is at its zenith when it’s fully charged and at maximum power. “Zenith” as an astrological term came from the Latin “cenit,” which came from the Arabic phrase “samt (ar-ra’s),” meaning “path (over the head).”
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