Definition of zenith in US English:



  • 1The time at which something is most powerful or successful.

    ‘under Justinian, the Byzantine Empire reached its zenith of influence’
    • ‘It was, of course, the zenith of the internet boom, but also a false dawn.’
    • ‘Even at its zenith in the mid-20th century, mink had few rivals, with only sable and the pelts of big cats bestowing anywhere near the same prestige.’
    • ‘She is in her physical prime and at the zenith of her fortunes.’
    • ‘Halfway through the set, McCracken's antics reached a zenith when he performed a drum roll-accompanied backflip ‘just for Toronto.’’
    • ‘This is the zenith of engineering achievement.’
    • ‘For me, music is the zenith in our life, the unreachable zenith.’
    • ‘Rossini was at the zenith of his career: the London papers referred to him as ‘the first composer of the day‘.’
    • ‘In the early 1980s the company was at its zenith.’
    • ‘Paradoxical as it may seem, such a man, to my mind, is in the same position as one at the zenith of success.’
    • ‘American power worldwide is at its historic zenith.’
    • ‘Would I opt to be 20, at the zenith of my physical and mental powers?’
    • ‘They were also sceptical about the World Council of Churches, then at its zenith of influence, and they began to preach God's free grace from their pulpits.’
    • ‘It was a goal worthy of George Best at his zenith.’
    • ‘The years 1899-1919 were the zenith of Elgar's creativity and success.’
    • ‘These spiky-haired punkers have really hit their zenith.’
    • ‘You realize that this moment represents the zenith of your success.’
    • ‘If technology is the height of modernity, nuclear technology must be considered the zenith of that technology and its highest manifestation.’
    • ‘The conflict's roots date back to the zenith of the British raj.’
    • ‘He cites 15 years of biology fieldwork in the rainforests of Central America as his educational zenith.’
    • ‘It may be in the fall, though, that this place reaches its zenith.’
    highest point, high point, crowning point, height, top, acme, peak, pinnacle, apex, apogee, vertex, tip, crown, crest, summit, climax, culmination, maximum, optimum, prime, meridian, flower
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  • 2Astronomy
    The point in the sky or celestial sphere directly above an observer.

    The opposite of nadir
    • ‘These objects reversed direction several times but maintained position in the sky more or less at the zenith.’
    • ‘The center of the map is the zenith, the point in the sky directly overhead.’
    • ‘The method needs data collected from two satellites, one close to zenith and the other in the direction of horizon.’
    • ‘Negative view zenith angles correspond to the backscattering direction.’
    1. 2.1 The highest point reached by a celestial or other object.
      ‘the sun was well past the zenith’
      ‘the missile reached its zenith and fell’
      • ‘Once the sun reached its zenith, it was too hot to even move, let alone travel.’
      • ‘The two-hour delay in starting that morning began to take on increasing significance as the sun reached its zenith without disclosing Petersburg on the horizon.’
      • ‘The whole affair was a very easygoing business; people kept eating and drinking, and, when the sun reached the zenith, they fell into a snooze where they sat.’
      • ‘The sun reached its zenith and fell steeply on the western side, and they did not notice.’


Late Middle English: from Old French or medieval Latin cenit, based on Arabic samt (ar-ra's) ‘path (over the head)’.