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meteor

[mee-tee-er, -awr] /ˈmi ti ər, -ˌɔr/
noun
1.
Astronomy.
  1. a meteoroid that has entered the earth's atmosphere.
  2. a transient fiery streak in the sky produced by a meteoroid passing through the earth's atmosphere; a shooting star or bolide.
2.
any person or object that moves, progresses, becomes famous, etc., with spectacular speed.
3.
(formerly) any atmospheric phenomenon, as hail or a typhoon.
4.
(initial capital letter) Military. Britain's first operational jet fighter, a twin-engine aircraft that entered service in 1944.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80; < Neo-Latin meteōrum < Greek metéōron meteor, a thing in the air, noun use of neuter of metéōros raised in the air, equivalent to met- met- + eōr- (variant stem of aéirein to raise) + -os adj. suffix
Related forms
meteorlike, adjective
Can be confused
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for meteors
  • meteors, comets or primordial ponds of hydrogen cyanide would still need to provide those molecules.
  • These will probably be accompanied by asteroids and meteors attached to that system.
  • They are not expected to withstand direct hits from large meteors or alien attacks.
  • Also, parts of the meteorite--what meteors are termed once they touch down--are probably quite big.
  • The sky becomes filled with gazillions of meteors, a shower of particles that burn up in the atmosphere on their way down.
  • My boots and chair and candlestick are fairies in disguise, meteors and constellations.
  • Those meteors ripped through the lava, exposing the older layers underneath.
  • The bright moon will make the fainter meteors harder to see.
  • Scientists can determine the age of a lunar landscape by counting the craters that have been blasted into its surface by meteors.
  • Asteroids, comets and meteors are cosmic debris left from the formation of the solar system.
British Dictionary definitions for meteors

meteor

/ˈmiːtɪə/
noun
1.
a very small meteoroid that has entered the earth's atmosphere. Such objects have speeds approaching 70 kilometres per second
2.
Also called shooting star, falling star. the bright streak of light appearing in the sky due to the incandescence of such a body heated by friction at its surface
Word Origin
C15: from Medieval Latin meteōrum, from Greek meteōron something aloft, from meteōros lofty, from meta- (intensifier) + aeirein to raise
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for meteors

meteor

n.

late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Middle French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteora "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteoron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteoros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta- "over, beyond" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (see aorta).

Specific sense of "fireball, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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meteors in Science
meteor
  (mē'tē-ər)   
  1. A bright trail or streak of light that appears in the night sky when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere. The friction with the air causes the rock to glow with heat. Also called shooting star.

  2. A rocky body that produces such light. Most meteors burn up before reaching the Earth's surface. See Note at solar system.


Our Living Language  : The streaks of light we sometimes see in the night sky and call meteors were not identified as interplanetary rocks until the 19th century. Before then, the streaks of light were considered only one of a variety of atmospheric phenomena, all of which bore the name meteor. Rain was an aqueous meteor, winds and storms were airy meteors, and streaks of light in the sky were fiery meteors. This general use of meteor survives in our word meteorology, the study of the weather and atmospheric phenomena. Nowadays, astronomers use any of three words for rocks from interplanetary space, depending on their stage of descent to the Earth. A meteoroid is a rock in space that has the potential to collide with the Earth's atmosphere. Meteoroids range in size from a speck of dust to a chunk about 100 meters in diameter, though most are smaller than a pebble. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, it becomes a meteor. The light that it gives off when heated by friction with the atmosphere is also called a meteor. If the rock is not obliterated by the friction and lands on the ground, it is called a meteorite. For this term, scientists borrowed the -ite suffix used in the names of minerals like malachite and pyrite.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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meteors in Culture

meteor definition


A streak of light in the sky, often called a “shooting star,” that occurs when a bit of extraterrestrial matter falls into the atmosphere of the Earth and burns up.

Note: Meteor showers occur at regular times during the year.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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