Noun > Zenith

Noun – Zenith

This word traces back through French and Latin to the Arabic samt ar-ras, meaning “the way over the head.”

Strictly speaking, the zenith is the point in the sky directly above you.

Loosely speaking, the zenith of something is the highest point, or the very best part.

Part of speech:
noun, the countable kind: “the band is at their zenith,” “she was at the zenith of her career.”

Other forms:

The plural is “zeniths.”

The adjective is “zenithal,” said “ZEE nith ull.” But you can also just use “zenith” like an adjective, as in “his zenith year” or “her zenith joy.”

And, to strike a poetic or silly tone, you can use “zenithward” as either an adverb (“the balloon floated zenithward) or an adjective (“a zenithward antenna”).

how to use it:
This common but beautiful word almost always has a positive, dramatic tone.

When you talk about something being at its zenith, you’re comparing it to something celestial or even heavenly, like a star, a moon, or a meteor–but at the same time, you might be suggesting that it’s destined to run a certain course: to rise to a certain height, then fall.

Talk about artists, writers, leaders, careers, trends, movements, relationships and so on being at their zenith, or reaching, hitting, or more poetically, arcing toward their zenith. Or, being past their zenith, or coming down from their zenith.

Someone’s power, impact, influence, creativity, happiness, or desire for something can also reach a zenith.

And we often talk about the zenith of something: “1993, the zenith of grunge music.”

Finally, although a zenith is almost always a good thing, you can certainly talk about bad things reaching their zenith–although in that case, I recommend calling that worst point a nadir instead. Still, here’s an example from the Guardian: “Their fight for control of the drug trade raged for almost a year. At its zenith it saw more than a murder per day.”

“Then he threw the stone into the air. The living brothers caught their breath, as the stone arced up over the clouds. It reached what they were certain must be the zenith of its curve, and then, defying all reason, it continued to rise into the air.”
— Neil Gaiman, Stardust, 2006

“So welcome to the year 1867. The Victorian age is at its zenith and a new, powerful and monied middle class is looking for things to do with their cash.”
— Iwan Morus, The Conversation, 27 October 2017

“‘Check out these dopes goggling at this breathtaking testament to the melding of engineering and human creativity,’ said Eiffel Tower tour guide Henri Bergeron, disdainfully pointing out a large group of vacationers clearly dumbstruck by the zenith of mankind’s structural accomplishments. ‘Oh, what, they’ve never seen a heart-stopping tribute to humanity’s potential before?'”
— The Onion, 8 January 2020