1. the point above the observer that is directly opposite the nadir on the imaginary sphere against which celestial bodies appear to be projected
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Zenith \Ze"nith\ (?; 277), n. [OE. senyth, OF. cenith, F.
z['e]nith, Sp. zenit, cenit, abbrev. fr. Ar. samt-urras way
of the head, vertical place; samt way, path + al the + ras
head. Cf. Azimuth.]
1. That point in the visible celestial hemisphere which is
vertical to the spectator; the point of the heavens
directly overhead; -- opposed to nadir.
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star.
2. hence, figuratively, the point of culmination; the
greatest height; the height of success or prosperity.
I find my zenith doth depend upon
A most auspicious star. --Shak.
This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars. --Mrs.
It was during those civil troubles . . . this
aspiring family reached the zenith. --Macaulay.
Zenith distance. (Astron.) See under Distance.
Zenith sector. (Astron.) See Sector, 3.
Zenith telescope (Geodesy), a telescope specially designed
for determining the latitude by means of any two stars
which pass the meridian about the same time, and at nearly
equal distances from the zenith, but on opposite sides of
it. It turns both on a vertical and a horizontal axis, is
provided with a graduated vertical semicircle, and a level
for setting it to a given zenith distance, and with a
micrometer for measuring the difference of the zenith
distances of the two stars.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: the point above the observer that is directly opposite the
nadir on the imaginary sphere against which celestial
bodies appear to be projected [ant: nadir]
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
102 Moby Thesaurus words for "zenith":
Olympian heights, acme, aerial heights, apex, apogee, authority,
authorization, be-all and end-all, blue ribbon, brow, cap,
capstone, championship, climax, cloud nine, command, control,
crest, crown, culmen, culmination, directorship, dizzy heights,
dominion, edge, effectiveness, elevation, eminence, ether,
extreme limit, extremity, first place, first prize, headship,
heaven, heavens, hegemony, height, heights, high noon, high point,
highest, highest pitch, highest point, imperium, influence,
jurisdiction, kingship, leadership, lift, limit, lordship,
management, mastership, mastery, maximum, meridian, most,
mountaintop, ne plus ultra, new high, no place higher, noon, palms,
paramountcy, peak, pinnacle, pitch, point, pole, power, presidency,
primacy, raise, record, ridge, rise, rising ground, rule, say,
seventh heaven, sky, sovereignty, spire, steep, stratosphere,
summit, supremacy, sway, tip, tip-top, top, top spot, upmost,
upper extremity, uppermost, uprise, utmost, vantage ground,
vantage point, vertex, very top
The Devil's Dictionary (1881-1906):
ZENITH, n. The point in the heavens directly overhead to a man
standing or a growing cabbage. A man in bed or a cabbage in the pot
is not considered as having a zenith, though from this view of the
matter there was once a considerably dissent among the learned, some
holding that the posture of the body was immaterial. These were
called Horizontalists, their opponents, Verticalists. The
Horizontalist heresy was finally extinguished by Xanobus, the
philosopher-king of Abara, a zealous Verticalist. Entering an
assembly of philosophers who were debating the matter, he cast a
severed human head at the feet of his opponents and asked them to
determine its zenith, explaining that its body was hanging by the
heels outside. Observing that it was the head of their leader, the
Horizontalists hastened to profess themselves converted to whatever
opinion the Crown might be pleased to hold, and Horizontalism took its
place among _fides defuncti_.