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See also: Meridian



Etymology 1[edit]

PIE word

From Late Middle English meridian, meridien (relating to midday or noon; southern; (astronomy) relating to the celestial meridian) [and other forms],[1] from Middle French meridien, Old French meridiane (relating to midday; southern) (whence Anglo-Norman meridien; modern French méridien), and from their etymon Latin merīdiānus (relating to midday; southern), from merīdiēs (midday, noon; the south (due to the southward orientation of the sun at noon in the Northern Hemisphere)) + -ānus (suffix meaning ‘of or pertaining to’). Merīdiēs is a dissimilated form of Old Latin medīdiēs (with the -d- sound shifted to -r-), from medius (middle) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *médʰyos (middle)) + diēs (day) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dyew- (heaven, sky; to be bright)).[2]


meridian (not comparable)

  1. Relating to a meridian (in various senses); meridional.
  2. (archaic except literary) Relating to midday or noon.
  3. (obsolete)
    1. Relating to the culmination or highest point.
    2. Relating to the south; meridional, southern.
      • 1819, Lord Byron, “Notices of the Life of Lord Byron”, in Thomas Moore, editor, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron: With Notices of His Life, [], volume II, London: John Murray, [], published 1830, →OCLC, page 214:
        A stranger loves the lady of the land, / Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood / Is all meridian, as if never fann'd / By the black wind that chills the polar flood.

Etymology 2[edit]

An illustration of a celestial meridian (sense 1.1), which is a great circle passing through the poles of the celestial sphere (a notional sphere which serves as the imaginary backdrop for celestial objects) and the zenith for a particular point on the Earth’s surface.
The prime meridian at 0° longitude is a terrestrial meridian (sense 1.2). This illustration shows half of a great circle extending from the terrestrial North Pole to the terrestrial South Pole.
The meridian (sense 2.2) of this artificial globe is a half-ring with markings within which the globe spins.

The noun is derived from Late Middle English meridian, meridien (midday, noon; position of the sun at noon; the south; longitude of a place; (astronomy) celestial meridian) [and other forms],[3] from Anglo-Norman meridien (midday), Middle French meridien (midday; the south; terrestrial meridian; (astronomy) celestial meridian) (modern French méridien), and Old French meridiane, meridiiene, and from their etymon Latin merīdiānum (midday; position of the sun at noon; the south), a noun use of the neuter form of merīdiānus (relating to midday; southern); see further at etymology 1.[4]

Sense 1.1 (“celestial meridian”) is ultimately modelled after Latin merīdiāna līnea (meridian line). Sense 5.2 (“midday rest; siesta”) is modelled after Late Latin meridiana (midday; midday rest), probably short for Latin merīdiāna hōra (midday time).[4]

The verb is derived from the noun.[5]


meridian (plural meridians)

  1. (astronomy)
    1. In full celestial meridian: a great circle passing through the poles of the celestial sphere and the zenith for a particular point on the Earth's surface. [from 14th c.]
    2. (also geography) In full terrestrial meridian: a great circle on the Earth's surface, passing through the geographic poles (the terrestrial North Pole and South Pole); also, half of such a circle extending from pole to pole, all points of which have the same longitude. [from 14th c.]
  2. (by extension)
    1. The place on the celestial meridian where it is crossed by the sun or a star at its highest point.
      1. (figurative) The highest or most developed point, or most splendid stage, of something; culmination, peak, zenith. [from 16th c.]
      2. (figurative, specifically) Chiefly followed by of: the middle period of someone's life, when they are at their full abilities or strength; one's prime. [from 17th c.]
        • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Youth and Age. XLII.”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC, pages 247–248:
          Natures that haue much Heat, and great and violent deſires and Perturbations, are not ripe for Action, till they haue paſſed the Meridian of their yeares: As it was with Iulius Cæſar, and Septimius Seuerus.
        • 1645 May 8 (Gregorian calendar), James Howell, “LX. To Tho. Young, Esq”, in Epistolæ Ho-Elianæ. Familiar Letters Domestic and Forren. [], 3rd edition, volume I, London: [] Humphrey Mos[e]ley, [], published 1655, →OCLC, section VI, page 284:
          You ſeem to marvel I do not Marry all this vvhile, conſidering that I am paſt the Meridian of my Age, and that to you Knovvledge there have been overtures made me of Parties above my Degree.
        • 1819, Thomas Moore, “Notices of the Life of Lord Byron”, in Lord Byron, edited by Thomas Moore, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron: With Notices of His Life, [], volume I, London: John Murray, [], published 1830, →OCLC, page 211:
          And here [Missolonghi],—it is impossible not to pause, and send a mournful thought forward to the visit which, fifteen years later, he paid to this same spot,—when, in the full meridian both of his age and fame, he came to lay down his life as the champion of that land, through which he now wandered a stripling and a stranger.
    2. A ring or half-ring with markings in which an artificial globe is installed and may spin.
      • [1633], George Herbert, “The Size”, in [Nicholas Ferrar], editor, The Temple: Sacred Poems, and Private Ejaculations, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: [] Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel; and are to be sold by Francis Green, [], →OCLC; reprinted London: Elliot Stock, [], 1885, →OCLC, page 132:
        Call to mind thy dream, / An earthly globe, / On whoſe meridian was engraven, / Theſe ſeas are tears, and heav'n the haven.
    3. (mathematics) A line passing through the poles of any sphere; a notional line on the surface of a curved or round body (in particular, an eyeball). [from 18th c.]
  3. (US, printing, dated) The size of type between double great primer and canon, standardized as 44-point.
  4. (obsolete)
    1. The south. [14th–17th c.]
    2. Midday, noon. [14th–19th c.]
      Synonyms: noontide; see also Thesaurus:midday
      • 1637, Tho[mas] Heywood, “The Speech of the Second Shovv, Delivered in Paules Church-yard”, in Londini Speculum: Or, Londons Mirror, [], London: [] I[ohn] Okes [], →OCLC, signature C, verso:
        He acts his vvhole life on this earthly ſtage, / In Child-hood, Youth, Man-hood, Decripit age. / The very day that doth afford him light, / Is Morning, the Meridian, Evening, Night.
    3. A midday rest; a siesta.
    4. A particular area or situation considered as having a specific characteristic or identity; also, the characteristics, habits, or tastes of a specific group, locale, etc. [16th–19th c.]
      • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Diet Rectified in Substance”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 2, section 2, member 1, subsection 1, pages 200–201:
        Diet, [] comprehends thoſe ſixe non naturall things, vvhich I haue before ſpecified, are eſpeciall cauſes, and being rectified, a ſole or chiefe part of the Cure. [] VVhich hovvſoeuer I treat of, as proper to the Meridian of melancholy, yet neuertheleſſe that vvhich is here ſaid, vvill generally ſerue moſt other diſeaſes, and eaſe them likevviſe, if it be obſerued.
      • 1625 (first performance), Ben[jamin] Jonson, “The Prologue for the Court”, in The Staple of Newes. [], London: [] I[ohn] B[eale] for Robert Allot [], published 1631, →OCLC, page 6:
        A VVorke not ſmelling of the Lampe, to night, / But fitted for your Maieſties diſport, / And vvrit to the Meridian of your Court, / VVe bring; and hope it may produce delight: []
      • a. 1677, Matthew Hale, “The Introduction, Declaring the Reason of the Choice of This Subject, and the Method of the Intended Discourse”, in The Primitive Origination of Mankind, Considered and Examined According to the Light of Nature, London: [] William Godbid, for William Shrowsbery, [], published 1677, →OCLC, section I, page 7:
        All other knowledge meerly or principally ſerves the concerns of this Life, and is fitted to the meridian thereof: []
      • 1712, Humphry Polesworth [pseudonym; John Arbuthnot], “The Publisher’s Preface”, in John Bull Still in His Senses: Being the Third Part of Law is a Bottomless-Pit. [], London: [] John Morphew, [], →OCLC, page 5:
        I repreſented to him the good Reception the two firſt Parts had met, that tho' they had been calculated by him, only for the Meridian of Grub-ſtreet, yet they were taken notice of by the better ſort; []
      • 1748, [Tobias Smollett], chapter XXVIII, in The Adventures of Roderick Random. [], 2nd edition, volume I, London: [] J. Osborn [], →OCLC, page 253:
        This ſuggeſtion, improbable as it vvas, had the deſired effect upon the captain, being exactly calculated for the meridian of his intellects; []
      • 1751, [Tobias] Smollett, “The Two Friends Eclipse All Their Competitors in Gallantry, and Practise a Pleasant Project of Revenge upon the Physicians of the Place”, in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: Harrison and Co., [], →OCLC, page 202, column 2:
        [H]is accompliſhments were exactly calculated for the meridian of female taſte; and with certain individuals of that ſex, his muſcular frame, and the robuſt connection of his limbs, were more attractive than the delicate proportions of his companion.
      • 1835, [Washington Irving], “[Newstead Abbey.] Superstitions of the Abbey.”, in Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey (The Crayon Miscellany; no. 2), Philadelphia, Pa.: [Henry Charles] Carey, [Isaac] Lea, & Blanchard, →OCLC, page 140:
        She loves to gossip about the Abbey and Lord Byron, and was soon drawn into a course of anecdotes, though mostly of a humble kind, suited to the meridian of the housekeeper's room and servants' hall.
    5. (Scotland) An alcoholic drink taken at midday. [18th–19th c.]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


meridian (third-person singular simple present meridians, present participle meridianing, simple past and past participle meridianed) (rare, also figurative)

  1. (transitive) To cause an object to reach the meridian or highest point of (something).
    • 1889, Frederic Alva Dean, “Description of the Ancient Petoséga”, in The Heroines of Petoséga [], New York, N.Y.: Hawthorne Publishing Company [], →OCLC, page 10:
      Simultaneously with the coming of the mist over earth and sea, where both seem merged into one, slowly and exactly at the same time on each side to the right and left rise and form gorgeous rainbows, that move gently up the sky. They ascend in pairs of the most brilliant color and hue. Upward they move until all the sky is meridianed with bows, which meet in a grand symphony of color in the zenith.
    • 1922 July, “The Eighty-fifth Annual Report of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America [Shantung Mission]”, in Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. [...] Part III: The Reports of the Boards and Permanent Committees to the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth General Assembly, Des Moines, Iowa, May 18–25, 1922, volume I (Third Series), Philadelphia, Pa.: Office of the General Assembly, [], →OCLC, page 157:
      At the foot of the promontory on which stands Peng Lai Temple is the little Christian Church of Water City, a suburb of Teng-chou. In the church are hung these words: "One volume, Old and New Testaments, circling earth, meridianing Heaven. One seven-roomed Worship Hall, backing the sea, facing the City."
    • 1954, E[dward] L[eslie] Mayo, “‘Whose Center is Everywhere’”, in David Ray, editor, Collected Poems (A New Letters Book), Kansas City, Mo.: University of Missouri; Athens, Oh.: Swallow Press, Ohio University Press, published 1981, →ISBN, page 86:
      [T]reetops stare / Vertiginous and of two minds; and one / Is to let go; // The other, though, / Is to cling on, seeing clear / It is meridianed and centered by / The pure blue, the apple of its eye.
  2. (intransitive) Of a celestial body: to reach its meridian.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

A woodcut in a 1537 Chinese acupuncture work depicting meridians associated with the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, and stomach.

Borrowed from French méridien or German Meridian (pathway on the body along which life force is thought to flow), from Latin merīdiānum (midday; position of the sun at noon; the south) (see further at etymology 2); the French and German words are calques of Mandarin , (jīng, pathway on the body along which life force is thought to flow; longitude; warp of woven fabric; to go or pass through).[4]


meridian (plural meridians)

  1. (acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine) Any of the pathways on the body along which chi or qi (life force) is thought to flow and, therefore, the acupoints are distributed; especially, one of twelve such pathways associated with organs of the body. [from 20th c.]


  1. ^ merī̆diā̆n, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ meridian, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “meridian, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ merī̆diā̆n, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 meridian, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “meridian, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  5. ^ meridian, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2018.

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from French méridien.


meridian n (plural meridiane)

  1. meridian




meridian c

  1. (astronomy, geography) a meridian
  2. a meridian (ring or half-ring with markings in which an artificial globe is installed and may spin)


Declension of meridian 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative meridian meridianen meridianer meridianerna
Genitive meridians meridianens meridianers meridianernas