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[awr-bit] /ˈɔr bɪt/
the curved path, usually elliptical, described by a planet, satellite, spaceship, etc., around a celestial body, as the sun.
the usual course of one's life or range of one's activities.
the sphere of power or influence, as of a nation or person:
a small nation in the Russian orbit.
Physics. (in Bohr theory) the path traced by an electron revolving around the nucleus of an atom.
an orb or sphere.
  1. the bony cavity of the skull that contains the eye; eye socket.
  2. the eye.
Zoology. the part surrounding the eye of a bird or insect.
verb (used with object)
to move or travel around in an orbital or elliptical path:
The earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days.
to send into orbit, as a satellite.
verb (used without object)
to go or travel in an orbit.
Origin of orbit
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin orbita wheel track, course, circuit
Related forms
orbitary, adjective
nonorbiting, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for orbits
  • Many have exotic qualities, bizarre orbits and other characteristics that throw models of planetary formation into spasm.
  • Further, lots of student tend to remember that planetary orbits are elliptical and not perfectly circular.
  • They move in their respective orbits in perfect harmony with the central head and with each other.
  • We try to identify the stellar orbits with our plan of campaign.
  • Because the moon orbits along an egg-shaped ellipse, not a circle, its distance from us changes.
  • If lots of celestial bodies are in similar orbits, they all tend to blur together.
  • So you get a real learning experience when you see how far you have to hike to reach the orbits of the outer planets.
  • These orbits are wide: not only ministers but veterinarians, housekeepers, and social workers all have their say.
  • His jaw was set, his cap pulled down to the orbits of his milk-white eyes.
  • Elliptical orbits do not preclude objects from being planets.
British Dictionary definitions for orbits


(astronomy) the curved path, usually elliptical, followed by a planet, satellite, comet, etc, in its motion around another celestial body under the influence of gravitation
a range or field of action or influence; sphere: he is out of my orbit
(anatomy) the bony cavity containing the eyeball Nontechnical name eye socket
  1. the skin surrounding the eye of a bird
  2. the hollow in which lies the eye or eyestalk of an insect or other arthropod
(physics) the path of an electron in its motion around the nucleus of an atom
to move around (a body) in a curved path, usually circular or elliptical
(transitive) to send (a satellite, spacecraft, etc) into orbit
(intransitive) to move in or as if in an orbit
Word Origin
C16: from Latin orbita course, from orbis circle, orb
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 orbits



late 14c., "the eye socket," from Old French orbite or directly from Medieval Latin orbita, transferred use of Latin orbita "wheel track, beaten path, rut, course, orbit" (see orb). Astronomical sense first recorded 1690s in English; it was in classical Latin, revived in Gerard of Cremona's translation of Avicenna.


1946, from orbit (n.). Related: Orbited; orbiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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orbits in Medicine

orbit or·bit (ôr'bĭt)
See orbital cavity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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orbits in Science
  1. The path followed by a celestial body or artificial satellite as it revolves around another body due to the force of gravity. Orbits are nearly elliptical or circular in shape and are very closely approximated by Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

  2. One complete revolution of such a body. See Note at solar system.

  3. A stable quantum state of an electron (or other particle) in motion around an atomic nucleus. See more at orbital.

  4. Either of two bony hollows in the skull containing the eye and its associated structures.

  1. To move in an orbit around another body.

  2. To put into an orbit, as a satellite is put into orbit around the Earth.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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orbits in Culture

orbit definition

In astronomy, the path followed by an object revolving around another object, under the influence of gravitation (see satellite). In physics, the path followed by an electron within an atom. The planets follow elliptical orbits around the sun (see ellipse).

Note: Informally, something is “in orbit” when its actions are controlled by an external agency or force: “The countries of eastern Europe were once in the orbit of the Soviet Union.”
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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Slang definitions & phrases for orbits


Related Terms

go into orbit, in orbit

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with orbits


see: in orbit
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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