[zee-nith or, esp. British, zen-ith]
the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer. Compare nadir.
a highest point or state; culmination.

1350–1400; Middle English cenith < Medieval Latin < Old Spanish zenit, scribal error for zemt < Arabic samt road, incorrectly read as senit by medieval scribes (compare Arabic samt ar-rās road above (over) one's head, the opposite of nadir)

nadir, zenith.

2. apex, summit.

1, 2. nadir.
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World English Dictionary
zenith (ˈzɛnɪθ, US ˈziːnɪθ)
1.  astronomy the point on the celestial sphere vertically above an observer
2.  the highest point; peak; acme: the zenith of someone's achievements
[C17: from French cenith, from Medieval Latin, from Old Spanish zenit, based on Arabic samt, as in samt arrās path over one's head, from samt way, path + al the + rās head]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., from O.Fr. cenith (Fr. zénith), from M.L. cenit, senit, bungled scribal transliteration of Arabic samt "road, path," abbreviation of samt ar-ras, lit. "the way over the head." Letter -m- misread as -ni-. The M.L. word may as well be influenced by the rough agreement of the Arabic term
with classical L. semita "sidetrack, side path" (notion of "thing going off to the side"), from se- "apart" + *mi-ta-, suffixed zero-grade form of PIE base *mei- "to change" (see mutable)
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
zenith   (zē'nĭth)  Pronunciation Key 
The point on the celestial sphere that is directly above the observer (90 degrees above the celestial horizon). Compare nadir.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


point on the celestial sphere directly above an observer on the Earth. The point 180 opposite the zenith, directly underfoot, is the nadir. Astronomical zenith is defined by gravity; i.e., by sighting up a plumb line. If the line were not deflected by such local irregularities in the Earth's mass as mountains, it would point to the geographic zenith. Because the Earth rotates and is not a perfect sphere, the geocentric zenith is slightly different from the geographic zenith except at the Equator and the poles. Geocentric zenith is the intersection with the celestial sphere of a straight line drawn through the observer's position from the geometric centre of the Earth

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The blue zenith is the point in which romance and reality meet.
Only later did she realize that she had cut down what represented the zenith of
  that species.
He was near the zenith of his influence as the war was planned.
Nor does beauty reach its zenith under the age of thirty-five or forty.
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