Definition of great circle in English:

great circle


  • A circle on the surface of a sphere which lies in a plane passing through the sphere's centre. As it represents the shortest distance between any two points on a sphere, a great circle of the earth is the preferred route taken by a ship or aircraft.

    • ‘It consisted of a system of rings corresponding to the great circles of the celestial sphere with a central tube which was used to line up stars and planets.’
    • ‘The great circle distances between the latitude and longitude coordinates of the population centroids for each pair of counties were used in the denominator.’
    • ‘First of all, a great circle route is the most efficient, and second, we try to take advantage of tailwinds and stay out of headwinds, all of which goes into determining our actual route of flight.’
    • ‘By spherical geometry, we mean geometry on the surface of a sphere, where the great circles are taken as lines.’
    • ‘A spherical triangle is the space included by arcs of great circles on the surface of a sphere… these arcs are always less than a semicircle.’