Is it farther or further?


[awr-bi-tl] /ˈɔr bɪ tl/
of or relating to an orbit.
Physics, Chemistry.
  1. a wave function describing the state of a single electron in an atom (atomic orbital) or in a molecule (molecular orbital)
  2. the electron in that state.
1535-45; < New Latin, Medieval Latin orbitālis; see orbit, -al1
Related forms
interorbital, adjective
interorbitally, adverb
preorbital, adjective
superorbital, adjective
transorbital, adjective
unorbital, adjective
unorbitally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for orbitals
  • As these electrons fall back into their original orbitals, they give off light, which bounces back and forth between the mirrors.
  • If the light is sufficiently intense, it will distort the electron orbitals and alter how the material interacts with light.
  • Gold's s- and d-orbitals are relativistically contracted toward the nucleus.
  • The first pictures of atomic orbitals are confirming theories and resolving controversies.
  • As in atoms, the electrons fill the dot by taking up positions in successive orbitals around the center.
  • The type of chemistry reaction talked about here is really simple using elements that have spherical orbitals.
  • Improved field-emission microscope images electron orbitals, confirming their theoretical shapes.
  • The hybrid orbitals are produced in a mathematical sense by adding up atomic orbitals, using the wave properties of the orbitals.
  • Thus, electrons fill orbitals in the order specified by the energy sequence given above.
British Dictionary definitions for orbitals


of or denoting an orbit
(of a motorway or major road circuit) circling a large city
a region surrounding an atomic nucleus in which the probability distribution of the electrons is given by a wave function
an orbital road
Derived Forms
orbitally, adverb
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for orbitals



1540s, with reference to eye sockets; 1839 with reference to heavenly bodies; from orbit (n.) + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
orbitals in Medicine

orbital or·bit·al (ôr'bĭ-tl)
Relating to an orbit.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
orbitals in Science

A partial description of the quantum state of an electron (or other particle) orbiting the nucleus of an atom. Different orbitals have different shapes and orientations, depending on the energy of the electron, its angular momentum, and its magnetic number. Orbitals have no clear boundaries; the shape of an orbital, as depicted graphically, shows only the regions around the nucleus in which an electron has a relatively high probability of being found. No more than two electrons (each with opposite spin) can coexist in a single orbital because of the Pauli exclusion principle. See also probability wave, quantum number, shell..

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for orbital

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for orbitals

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for orbitals