zodiac

[zoh-dee-ak]
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. Compare sign of the zodiac.
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; Middle English zodiaque < Latin zōdiacus < Greek zōidiakòs (kýklos) signal (circle), equivalent to zṓidi(on) animal sign ((ion) animal + -idion diminutive suffix) + -akos -ac

zodiacal [zoh-dahy-uh-kuhl] , adjective
nonzodiacal, adjective
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Collins
World English Dictionary
zodiac (ˈzəʊdɪˌæk)
 
n
1.  See zodiacal constellation 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
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
 
[C14: from Old French zodiaque, from Latin zōdiacus, from Greek zōidiakos (kuklos) (circle) of signs, from zōidion animal sign, carved figure, from zōion animal]
 
zodiacal
 
adj

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

zodiac
late 14c., from O.Fr. zodiaque, from L. zodiacus "zodiac," from Gk. zodiakos (kyklos) "zodiac (circle)," lit. "circle of little animals," from zodiaion, dim. 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 O.E. the zodiac was twelf tacna "the twelve signs," and in M.E. also Our Ladye's Waye and the Girdle of the Sky.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
zodiac   (zō'dē-āk')  Pronunciation Key 
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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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Example sentences
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.
This constellation is the dimmest in the zodiac besides cancer.
Twelve drawings representing signs of the zodiac, each with a caption telling of future events, all of which are calamitous.
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