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zodiac

[zoh-dee-ak] /ˈzoʊ diˌæk/
noun
1.
an imaginary belt of the heavens, extending about 8° on each side of the ecliptic, within which are the apparent paths of the sun, moon, and principal planets. It contains twelve constellations and hence twelve divisions called signs of the zodiac. Each division, however, because of the precession of the equinoxes, now contains the constellation west of the one from which it took its name.
2.
a circular or elliptical diagram representing this belt, and usually containing pictures of the animals, human figures, etc., that are associated with the constellations and signs.
3.
a circuit or round.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English zodiaque < Latin zōdiacus < Greek zōidiakòs (kýklos) signal (circle), equivalent to zṓidi(on) animal sign ((ion) animal + -idion diminutive suffix) + -akos -ac
Related forms
zodiacal
[zoh-dahy-uh-kuh l] /zoʊˈdaɪ ə kəl/ (Show IPA),
adjective
nonzodiacal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for zodiac
  • The obverse of each piece bears a representation of one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
  • The tiles will display the date and the constellations of the zodiac.
  • Twelve drawings representing signs of the zodiac, each with a caption telling of future events, all of which are calamitous.
  • In addition, the marina has a small fleet of kayaks, a zodiac and parasails.
  • This constellation is the dimmest in the zodiac besides cancer.
British Dictionary definitions for zodiac

zodiac

/ˈzəʊdɪˌæk/
noun
1.
an imaginary belt extending 8° either side of the ecliptic, which contains the 12 zodiacal constellations and within which the moon and planets appear to move. It is divided into 12 equal areas, called signs of the zodiac, each named after the constellation which once lay in it See zodiacal constellation
2.
(astrology) a diagram, usually circular, representing this belt and showing the symbols, illustrations, etc, associated with each of the 12 signs of the zodiac, used to predict the future
3.
(rare) a complete circuit; circle
Derived Forms
zodiacal (zəʊˈdaɪəkəl) adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zōdiacus, from Greek zōidiakos (kuklos) (circle) of signs, from zōidion animal sign, carved figure, from zōion animal
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 zodiac
n.

late 14c., from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zodiacus "zodiac," from Greek zodiakos (kyklos) "zodiac (circle)," literally "circle of little animals," from zodiaion, diminutive of zoion "animal" (see zoo).

Libra is not an animal, but it was not a zodiac constellation to the Greeks, who reckoned 11 but counted Scorpio and its claws (including what is now Libra) as a "double constellation." Libra was figured back in by the Romans. In Old English the zodiac was twelf tacna "the twelve signs," and in Middle English also Our Ladye's Waye and the Girdle of the Sky.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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zodiac in Science
zodiac
  (zō'dē-āk')   
A band of the celestial sphere extending about eight degrees north and south of the ecliptic, representing the portion of the sky within which the paths of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets are found. In astrology, the zodiac is divided into 12 equal segments, each of which is named after a constellation through which the ecliptic passes in that region of the sky. The traditional beginning point of constellations is Aries, followed in calendrical order by Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. See also equinox.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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zodiac in Culture

zodiac definition


A band of the sky along which the sun, the moon, and most of the planets move. It is divided into twelve parts, with each part named for a nearby constellation.

Note: The twelve constellations, or signs, of the zodiac are important in astrology.

zodiac definition


The imaginary band in the sky through which the sun, the moon, and the planets appear to move. The twelve constellations in the band (Aquarius, Pisces, and so on) are the familiar signs of the zodiac used in astrology.

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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