He shall not seek to weave, In weak unhappy times, Efficacious rhymes; Wait his returning strength, Bird, that from the nadir’s floor, To the zenith’s top could soar, The soaring orbit of the muse exceeds that journey’s length!
Nadir is an ancient word coming from Arabic and is part of a rich vocabulary of ancient words related to maths, physics, astronomy and chemistry. Nadir in Arabic means opposite. The word exists in relation to zenith, which means the highest point of the celestial sphere. In Arabic, Zenith means ‘the way over one’s head’.
Treatise on the Astrolabe, c.1391 by Chaucer
The first known instance of the word in English.
A star map from ancient Persia featuring zenith and nadir
Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.
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3 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Nadir”
Brilliant word! Zenith too. Arabic has some cool words
Yeah definitely. It sort of rolls off the tongue, it is still weird and exotic enough to sound fancy to everyday English…at least for me. To drop nadir or zenith into a conversation sounds rather fancy haha
Especially into the same conversation!