Definition of eclipse in English:



  • 1An obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.

    ‘an eclipse of the sun’
    • ‘Ancient astronomers who thought that the world was flat were nonetheless able to predict eclipses.’
    • ‘On average a total solar eclipse is visible from any location only once every few centuries.’
    • ‘I am upstate and the lack of light pollution makes the eclipse a sight to behold.’
    • ‘Cook's three-year journey was to observe an eclipse and to discover an uncharted continent.’
    • ‘Two weeks ago South Africans saw a partial solar eclipse.’
    • ‘When the Moon is fully immersed in the umbra a total lunar eclipse occurs.’
    • ‘The partial phase of such an eclipse lasts for much longer, some hours.’
    • ‘A lunar eclipse is visible from everywhere on the dark side of the Earth.’
    • ‘In optimum weather conditions the annular eclipse is said to be a spectacular sight.’
    • ‘While in Rome he observed an eclipse of the Moon which took place on 6 November 1500.’
    • ‘The artist is known to have witnessed a full eclipse of the sun on March 16, 1485.’
    • ‘Later, the robot field geologist then took about a dozen images of the Sun to catch the eclipse by the Martian moon, Phobos before shutting down again for a little nap.’
    • ‘If the Moon completely enters the umbra, a total lunar eclipse occurs.’
    • ‘The eclipse happens at around four in the morning, with the Sun barely above the horizon.’
    • ‘The producer decided to show the mountain goats going to sleep when the eclipse happened.’
    • ‘We also viewed the eclipse through the thickness of a CD, which worked quite well.’
    • ‘An annular eclipse of the sun will be visible from Vancouver during the early evening of Monday, June 10.’
    • ‘Granny viewed the eclipse by projecting the sun's image on to a sheet through her binoculars.’
    • ‘Local residents will have the opportunity to view a partial solar eclipse next Tuesday morning, reported the Youth Daily.’
    • ‘Canada also witnesses the entire eclipse as does Central and South America.’
    blotting out, blocking, covering, obscuring, hiding, concealing, veiling, shrouding, darkening
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    1. 1.1A loss of significance or power in relation to another person or thing.
      ‘the election result marked the eclipse of the traditional right’
      • ‘Prophets of doom are forever predicting the eclipse of Thailand as an international tourist destination.’
      • ‘The Fall of France thus reveals itself in the medium term as a crucial moment in the eclipse of European power.’
      • ‘As a result of the eclipse, the consequences of secrecy are far more difficult than the results of honest and open communication.’
      • ‘There is the already encountered line of analysis that the eclipse of Soviet military power was not an accomplishment of the West, but rather an outcome self-inflicted by Soviet and Russian economic failure.’
      • ‘In short, the annulment has caused a backlash and the virtual eclipse of the power industry.’
      • ‘How far was the Second World War responsible for Western Europe's eclipse by other powers?’
      • ‘The rise of Vancouver as a power centre coincided with the eclipse of Winnipeg, which by 1996 retained only one headquarters.’
      • ‘Few might have predicted the eclipse of this model, but it nevertheless occurred.’
      • ‘The suggestion is that his rancour at his relative eclipse within the huge family hierarchy had something to do with the fervour with which he embraced Islam.’
      • ‘Further, the rise of British naval power and the continuing eclipse of the Dutch navy during the war meant that Britain was confirmed as a major trading nation and one of the strongest economies of Europe.’
      • ‘In view of the continuing eclipse of his reputation, those were wise words.’
      • ‘Nothing prepared Egypt for the eclipse of royal power and poverty that came after Pepy II.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, it is surprising to learn about the complete eclipse of the government sponsored agricultural research institution in this whole episode.’
      decline, fall, failure, decay, deterioration, degeneration, weakening, ebb, waning, withering, descent, sinking, slide, tumble, regression, lapse, collapse, comedown, crash
      outshining, overshadowing, surpassing, excelling, outclassing, outstripping, outdistancing, outdoing, transcending, dwarfing, upstaging, shaming
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  • 2Ornithology
    A phase during which the distinctive markings of a bird (especially a male duck) are obscured by moulting of the breeding plumage.

    [as modifier] ‘eclipse plumage’
    • ‘At this time of the year individuals have completed breeding and begin to molt into their brown eclipse plumage, and they are easy to accurately age as adult breeding males.’
    • ‘Females and males in eclipse plumage may look superficially similar to Mallards.’
    • ‘This hypothesis would be supported if unpaired males in breeding plumage were more vigilant than unpaired males in cryptic eclipse plumage.’
    • ‘As the drake loses his bright plumage and acquires the more subdued feathering of the female, the bird appears to become hormonally sexually neutral and, for the remaining duration of the eclipse period, remains as a female.’
    • ‘Juveniles and males in eclipse plumage (from July to September) look like the female.’


  • 1 (of a celestial body) obscure the light from or to (another celestial body)

    ‘Jupiter was eclipsed by the Moon’
    • ‘In essence the galaxy is eclipsing the quasar, but paradoxically its gravitational lens effect brightens the light received from the latter.’
    • ‘On 9 March 1497 he observed the Moon eclipse the star Aldebaran.’
    • ‘The extent to which the Moon eclipses the Sun's disc increases the farther south one is of that curve.’
    • ‘For about a third of every ninety-minute orbit, as Earth eclipses the Sun, the station orbits in darkness.’
    • ‘Looking at the astrological events that took place in Aries around the time of Jesus, he discovered that there was one very significant event when Jupiter was eclipsed by the moon.’
    • ‘By the way, just as the Moon eclipses the Sun, so does Venus.’
    • ‘Much to his surprise, Sherry was leaning against the metal railings, gazing out at the giant red moon as it eclipsed a smaller blue moon.’
    • ‘The Sun is partially eclipsed by the Moon late on the afternoon of the 13th.’
    • ‘This is because the two moons for the summer season eclipse the two suns.’
    • ‘And we will see the moon is being eclipsed at the same time.’
    • ‘Now the view of a transit simply shows the planet slowly moving across, appearing to eclipse the Sun.’
    • ‘Hours after the Saturn-Pluto opposition, the Sagittarius Moon will eclipse the Gemini Sun.’
    • ‘The full moon on 16 May will be eclipsed as it passes through the Earth's shadow, but it won't be completely dark.’
    • ‘We have considered the Moon and planets crossing the Sun or the stars, Jupiter eclipsing the Galilean satellites, and measuring the sizes of asteroids and comets.’
    • ‘And, the rover also ‘snapped’ an inspiring picture of the Martian moon Phobos as it eclipsed the Sun.’
    1. 1.1Deprive (someone or something) of significance or power.
      ‘the economy has eclipsed the environment as the main issue’
      • ‘Now that the highly specialised Honda Insight hybrid is no longer officially on sale in the UK, we know of no other car likely to eclipse the petrol C1's economy in a typical driving environment.’
      • ‘His drubbing by Chirac was soon eclipsed by even more extraordinary developments in the Netherlands.’
      • ‘By the twentieth century, Pompeii's metaphorical significance had largely eclipsed its moral charge.’
      • ‘Some experts believe the roomy crossover model line could eventually eclipse the traditional sedan.’
      • ‘That concept - aerospace power eclipsing the fog and friction of war - may be unobtainable, but it is still an important one to consider in terms of what it takes to make aerospace power work today and in the future.’
      • ‘Despite the magnitude of these developments, they were overtaken and eventually eclipsed in the nineteenth century.’
      • ‘If the European dream is quietly eclipsing the American dream, why are the Europeans touting China as the rising power that will eclipse the U.S?’
      • ‘If the film gets made, that will definitely eclipse the book, because most people are more interested in movies.’
      • ‘The challenge was to prevent the other major capitalist powers from exploiting this new situation and eclipsing the US.’
      • ‘The housing renovations are almost complete and hubby Ford is an awfully busy scientist with a power career that eclipses most of the couple's concerns.’
      • ‘I just prefer an environment where they are not such cultural mainstays that they eclipse other artists I care to hear.’
      • ‘If anything has eclipsed his directing achievements in the past 20 years, it's his development work.’
      • ‘In my view, Richard Nixon's personal shortcomings will eclipse his overall political record.’
      • ‘But they are totally eclipsed by the vivacity and originality of Vivaldi's three.’
      • ‘The national side soon began to eclipse the achievements of more established powers, including Scotland.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, the taste for things English rivaled and soon eclipsed Dutch hegemony.’
      • ‘While the first two pieces are not entirely successful, the third and longest piece is so fabulous it completely eclipses what comes before it.’
      • ‘However well received the plays he had written since, none had eclipsed the haunting, poetic power of his first.’
      • ‘The wonder of it all eclipsed the sadness I had felt earlier.’
      • ‘He also observes that air power has completely eclipsed tanks' role as mobile artillery.’
      outshine, overshadow, put in the shade, surpass, exceed, excel, be superior to, outclass, outstrip, outdistance, outdo, top, cap, trump, transcend, tower above, tower over, dwarf, upstage, shame, put to shame
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    2. 1.2literary Obscure or block out (light)
      ‘a sea of blue sky violently eclipsed by showers’
      • ‘Furry bodies eclipsed the fans of light spilling through the shutters, turning the scene surreal.’
      • ‘The Negotiator Class diplomatic cruiser eclipsed the light of a blue sun, highlighting battle worn scars along her hull like sunlight on a river.’
      • ‘Near the center of the darkness was a spherical, green and blue colored object, eclipsing the biggest light in the area.’
      blot out, block, cover, obscure, veil, shroud, hide, conceal, obliterate, darken, dim
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  • in eclipse

    • 1Losing or having lost significance or power.

      ‘his political power was in eclipse’
      • ‘But at the moment, it does appear incontrovertible that they are in eclipse, virtually forgotten.’
      • ‘Wilson's book about the Enlightenment assault on belief appears at a time when, in the world of academic theology, the Enlightenment is in eclipse.’
      • ‘Afghanistan has been in atrophy for a generation, with institutions in decay, educations in eclipse, the entire society tossing and turning in a benumbing nightmare.’
      • ‘After 1945 European power was increasingly in eclipse, although this was not always apparent to those who held power or to their supporters.’
      • ‘Both drew on market forces energized in the process of liberalization, on the support of middle classes asserting their newly legitimated right to consume and of business groups seeking a successor to a developmentalist regime in eclipse.’
      • ‘Historical novels were in eclipse, but Hornblower's loyal public was a target worth aiming at.’
      • ‘In today's political climate, with this ideal in eclipse, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 may appear to represent the use of governmental power to dictate individuals' decisions about their own private property.’
      • ‘Although in eclipse during the 1920s, it re-emerged in the years of the Great Depression, with policies to end unemployment and stimulate industry.’
      • ‘That idea has long been in eclipse, and today it lies outside the mainstream of political opinion.’
      • ‘At the end of WWI, with the Ottoman Empire in eclipse, they had the chance to expand influence in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine etc and control both the geopolitics and the economy.’
    • 2Ornithology
      (especially of a male duck) in its eclipse plumage.

      ‘almost all the garganeys which reach Australia are in eclipse’
      • ‘Some species, like the ruddy, remain in eclipse until the next breeding season.’


Middle English: from Old French e(s)clipse (noun), eclipser (verb), via Latin from Greek ekleipsis, from ekleipein fail to appear, be eclipsed, from ek out + leipein to leave.