Definition of satellite in US English:



  • 1An artificial body placed in orbit around the earth or moon or another planet in order to collect information or for communication.

    • ‘When declared operational in 1964, Transit consisted of five satellites in offset polar orbits circling the Earth at an altitude of about 670 miles.’
    • ‘In October, 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite, into orbit, Americans were stunned.’
    • ‘There are hundreds of satellites in orbit right now, doing everything from relaying communication signals to monitoring weather patterns.’
    • ‘The satellites are orbiting the Earth at a fixed point, above the equator, they say.’
    • ‘It boasts the most comprehensive and advanced communications technology in the world and an ability to watch anyone it likes from spy satellites which orbit continuously.’
    • ‘Svalbard Satellite Station specialises in retrieving data from satellites in polar orbit.’
    • ‘Thanks to scientific satellites which monitor the sun, it is possible to know in advance when an aurora might occur.’
    • ‘A sunspot five times the size of Earth could wreak havoc with satellites and radio communication systems, scientists warn, as it moves across the face of the sun and Earth moves directly into its firing line.’
    • ‘Since then, an increasing number of satellites have collected data for mapping applications worldwide.’
    • ‘This was in the days before satellites and instant communications, and I have often wondered what would have happened had our modus operandi been widely known at the time.’
    • ‘Nasa will launch the satellite, funded by the Canadian Space Agency, next January.’
    • ‘Ever since the Soviets launched sputnik in 1957, satellites have been part of our consciousness.’
    • ‘All of the satellites in geostationary orbit are flying 33,000 kilometres out in space.’
    • ‘I was over at a friend's house the other day and on his computer he showed me his own house as viewed by a satellite in Earth's orbit.’
    • ‘The crash was recorded by the US Space Command, which tracks around 8000 artificial satellites in Earth orbit.’
    • ‘All communication and observation satellites orbiting Mars suddenly failed.’
    • ‘Nasa boffins have declared their intention to hand over control of three satellites to artificial intelligence software.’
    • ‘The Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite in 1957.’
    • ‘The researchers say that aerial photographs of the marble covered areas of Utah closely resemble images beamed back from Martian satellites.’
    • ‘He also shows how he compiles his forecasts based on thousands of pieces of information from ships, satellites, balloons and dozens of very local stations scattered throughout Wales recording wind, rainfall and sunshine.’
    space station, space capsule, spacecraft
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Transmitted by satellite; using or relating to satellite technology.
      ‘satellite broadcasting’
      • ‘He will move his show from broadcast to satellite radio in January of 2006 when his current contract runs out.’
      • ‘There have been videoconferences, webcasts, satellite broadcasts and exchanges between scientists on a secure website.’
      • ‘The exciting new technologies will include satellite navigation.’
      • ‘All of these are equipped with modern technology such as satellite channels, direct dial telephone, internet and e-mail access, modem, and dataport.’
      • ‘This programme will use satellite technology to reflect the diversity of accents and colour of communities across Wales.’
      • ‘The result was an invitation to develop a series of lectures on women's health that are delivered via satellite broadcast to a thousand hospitals around the country.’
      • ‘Television, unlike radio, more often uses satellites, with most developing countries allowing the reception of satellite transmissions.’
      • ‘BBC West's programmes will be available on the digital satellite platform for the very first time from Tuesday.’
      • ‘To file his reports from this remote area, Nabin Singh Khadka will be using state of the art satellite communications.’
      • ‘Users will have access through a combination of terrestrial wireless and satellite transmissions.’
      • ‘It also will process a wider variety of images, including aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite images.’
      • ‘Rob Munslow, at 24 the youngest of the crew, is delighted they will have a link to home through the satellite communication.’
      • ‘For a start, the government bans most foreign satellite broadcasts.’
      • ‘The fledgling cable operators barely registered in the public consciousness and digital satellite broadcasting was years away.’
      • ‘Underneath this shading material the antennas were installed for local and satellite communications.’
      • ‘Harry predicted that Internet broadcasting would largely replace satellite transmission of events.’
      • ‘BBC Midlands' programmes will be available on the digital satellite platform for the first time from today.’
      • ‘Radio, digital and satellite listeners in the UK and local radio station audiences in Africa will simultaneously hear and be able to engage with broadcasts.’
    2. 1.2 Satellite television.
      ‘a news service on satellite’
      • ‘The extension of the main regional news programme to digital satellite is but one part of an exciting programme of new digital services offered this year.’
      • ‘The station will be available on all digital platforms, including the internet, digital radio, and digital satellite and cable.’
      • ‘Listening to radio through digital television sets, whether by digital satellite or digital cable, has become increasingly popular over recent years.’
      • ‘For fans of nostalgia, cable or satellite can be a Godsend.’
      • ‘This means there are now three ways to access the BBC's services: satellite, cable and Freeview.’
      • ‘As the numbers of people with satellite and cable increases, the chance that people will watch the traditional news bulletins also decreases.’
      • ‘The groundbreaking initiative means viewers with digital satellite or cable can enjoy audio and animated visuals from the gig at the push of the button for a week after transmission.’
      • ‘Because of its repeated airings on cable and satellite, it is still possible to catch it on television, but it is worth buying as well.’
      • ‘There are further plans to enhance the News interactive service on digital satellite with two additional video loops and with interactive voting.’
      • ‘And in the long run, cable / satellite is competing with video games and DVD rentals and sales.’
      • ‘Even in London, where broadband, DVD, cable TV, radio, satellite all feed into the chaotic, dirty metropolis you still have to work fairly hard to hear music that isn't easily categorised.’
      • ‘It is a rich mixed genre channel that is available on digital satellite, cable and through an aerial.’
      • ‘They started buying up companies, left, right and centre and launching new channels on cable and satellite by the bucket load.’
      • ‘The opt-out can also be seen by viewers outside these regions on digital satellite.’
      • ‘Now there is Channel 5, digital terrestrial television, digital satellite and cable.’
      • ‘And most of them have satellite or cable so they have even more channels of rubbish.’
      • ‘With more and more of us now having satellite, Freeview, or cable, we consume this torrent of news in exactly the same way as we attack the overblown papers, except this time with channel changer in hand.’
      • ‘The additional growth of satellite and cable ensures that digital television will soon be enjoyed by the majority of the UK.’
  • 2Astronomy
    A celestial body orbiting the earth or another planet.

    • ‘Huygens has taken seven years to reach Titan, the second largest satellite in the solar system, and the only one with an atmosphere.’
    • ‘If the discovery of the moons is confirmed, scientists say it will further understanding of how the Pluto system evolved, as well as shedding new light on other Kuiper Belt objects with satellites, and the Kuiper Belt region in general.’
    • ‘Overhead, uncounted billions of stars, planets, and satellites swirl, creating a heavenly light show that changes every night, and it's one the entire family can share.’
    • ‘He also used his telescope to discover the four largest satellites of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and sunspots on the sun.’
    • ‘Deep in the outer reaches of the Solar system, a planet, orbited by two moons and several satellites, moved in its orbit around the star known as the Sun by the system's inhabitants.’
    moon, secondary planet
    View synonyms
  • 3usually as modifier Something that is separated from or on the periphery of something else but is nevertheless dependent on or controlled by it.

    ‘satellite offices in London and New York’
    • ‘The merger team consolidated the 32 satellite offices with a single Internet service provider, enabling volume discounts.’
    • ‘Coates estimates that 5 percent of the American work force currently works at home or a satellite office close to home.’
    • ‘Those who work at telework centers, satellite offices or on the road spend more time on the job, with each averaging over four days, or 30 hours a week.’
    • ‘Word has it that the company are planning on setting up shop right here in Montreal in the form of some sort of satellite office, but I'm sure we'll hear more soon enough.’
    • ‘They felt safe at headquarters and in satellite offices.’
    • ‘They also maintain satellite offices in Central Point and in Kent, Washington.’
    • ‘It's grown from 10 to 13 people within the past year, and it's opened a satellite office in Escondido.’
    • ‘Mason said that a big difference for small businesses is that employees will now be able to work from their homes or from a satellite office because all the information they need can now be accessed remotely.’
    • ‘Dixon believes that these satellite offices represent a fundamental shift in the dynamic between workers and the workplace.’
    • ‘The media company has 10 employees and a satellite office in Tokyo.’
    • ‘Colgan now operates out of a small satellite office in Atlanta.’
    • ‘These days, teams comprise people who work at headquarters, in satellite offices, on the road, and from home.’
    • ‘Two years ago, he hoped to launch a host of satellite offices, from the East Coast to the Far East.’
    • ‘They have 13 employees and satellite offices in Florida, North Carolina, the Bahamas, Toronto, and British Columbia.’
    • ‘The company's ranks swelled to 60 employees, and a satellite office was opened in New York.’
    • ‘They were a small business with a couple of satellite offices.’
    • ‘Happy where he was, he planned to work from the company's satellite office in New York City.’
    • ‘Simmonds's company has satellite offices all over the world, and, he said, they're constantly opening, closing, or relocating them.’
    • ‘Today FSC has headquarters in Germany and maintains 34 satellite offices around the world.’
    • ‘So Price established a satellite office in Denver, making it his center for work in the telecommunications industry.’
    dependent, subordinate, subsidiary, ancillary
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A small country or state politically or economically dependent on another.
      • ‘What was possible in Moscow, however, was political in the satellite republics.’
      • ‘It achieved little until 1962, when agreements restricting the satellite countries to limited production and to economic dependency on the Soviet Union were enforced.’
      • ‘Napoleon's aim was not to occupy territory as such: although great areas of Europe were annexed either to France or to new satellite states, control of them was passed to civil administrators in due course.’
      • ‘This former Soviet satellite country struggling to re-orientate its national economy towards the West is still heavily dependent on Russian natural gas imports.’
      • ‘In the other former satellites, events took different courses but arrived at the elimination of the former communist leaderships, with reform communists and open popular dissent providing the catalyst.’
      dependency, colony, protectorate, dominion, possession, holding
      View synonyms
  • 4Genetics
    A portion of the DNA of a genome with repeating base sequences and of different density from the main sequence.


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘follower, obsequious underling’): from French satellite or Latin satelles, satellit- ‘attendant’.