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See also: Orient


Etymology 1[edit]

A 1635 map of the orient (sense 1) or Asia by Willem Blaeu
The sunrise seen in the orient (sense 2) or east direction from Aci Castello, Sicily, Italy

The noun is derived from Middle English orient, oriente, oryent, oryente, oryentte (the east direction; eastern horizon or sky; eastern regions of the world, Asia, Orient; eastern edge of the world),[1] borrowed from Anglo-Norman orient, oriente, and Old French orient (east direction; Asia, Orient) (modern French orient), or directly from its etymon Latin oriēns (the east; daybreak, dawn; sunrise; (participle) rising; appearing; originating), present active participle of orior (to get up, rise; to appear, become visible; to be born, come to exist, originate), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃er- (to move, stir; to rise, spring).[2]

The adjective is derived from Middle English orient (eastern; from Asia or the Orient; brilliant, shining (characteristic of jewels from the Orient)), from Middle English orient (noun); see above.[3]


Proper noun[edit]


  1. Usually preceded by the: alternative letter-case form of Orient (a region or a part of the world to the east of a certain place; countries of Asia, the East (especially East Asia)) [from 14th c.]
    Antonym: occident
    • c. 1596–1599, William Shakespeare, “King Henry IV. Part II.”, in The Plays of William Shakespeare, volume IX, London: Printed for T[homas] Longman [et al.], published 1793, OCLC 848144125, Act I, induction [prologue], page 6:
      I, from the orient to the drooping weſt, / Making the wind my poſthorſe, ſtill unfold / The acts commenced on this ball of earth: []
    • 1834, “St. Basil’s Homily on Paradise”, in Hugh Stuart Boyd, transl., The Fathers not Papists: Or, Six Discourses by the Most Eloquent Fathers of the Church: [] Translated from the Greek, new edition, London: Samuel Bagster, []; Sidmouth, Devon: John Harvey, OCLC 558456946, page 70:
      God planted Paradise in Eden, in the orients; and placed there the man whom he had formed.
    • 1855, Bayard Taylor, “Proem Dedicatory. An Epistle from Mount Tmolus.”, in Poems of the Orient, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, OCLC 15110630, stanza IV, pages 10–11:
      I pitch my tent upon the naked sands, / And the tall palm, that plumes the orient lands, / Can with its beauty satisfy my heart.


orient (plural orients)

  1. The part of the horizon where the sun first appears in the morning; the east.
  2. (obsolete) A pearl originating from the Indian region, reputed to be of great brilliance; (by extension) any pearl of particular beauty and value. [19th c.]
  3. (by extension) The brilliance or colour of a high-quality pearl.


orient (not comparable)

  1. (dated, poetic, also figuratively) Rising, like the morning sun.
  2. (dated, poetic) Of the colour of the sky at daybreak; bright in colour, from red to yellow.
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 2, page 278:
      Then, I do so like the one or two principal walks, neatly edged with box, cut with most precise regularity, keeping guard over favourite plants:—columbines, bending on their slender stems; rose-bushes, covered with buds enough to furnish roses for months; pinks, with their dark eyes; and the orient glow of the marigold.
    Synonym: Orient red
  3. (obsolete except poetic) Of, facing, or located in the east; eastern, oriental.
    Antonym: occidental
  4. (obsolete except poetic) Of a pearl or other gem: of great brilliance and value; (by extension) bright, lustrous.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:shining

Etymology 2[edit]

The verb is derived from French orienter (to orientate; to guide; to set to north) from French orient (noun) (see above) + -er (suffix forming infinitives of first-conjugation verbs).[4]



orient (third-person singular simple present orients, present participle orienting, simple past and past participle oriented) (often US)

  1. (transitive) To build or place (something) so as to face eastward.
    • 1868 August 25, George Rolleston, “On the Modes of Sepulture Observable in Late Romano-British and Early Anglo-Saxon Times in This Country”, in International Congress of Prehistoric Archæology: Transactions of the Third Session [], London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1869, OCLC 1066766778, pages 176–177:
      The first kind of interment was that of leaden coffins, rectangular in shape, covered with a lid, occupying deeper graves than any of the other interments, more or less accurately oriented, sometimes containing coins, as of the Emperor Gratian (ob. 383), and sometimes not. [...] The second type of interment, also of Romans or Romanised Britons, resembled the first in being more or less perfectly oriented, the orientation varying, probably according as it had taken place in summer or in winter, from E.N.E. to E.S.E. over about 45°; [...]
  2. (transitive, by extension) To align or place (a person or object) so that his, her, or its east side, north side, etc., is positioned toward the corresponding points of the compass; (specifically, surveying) to rotate (a map attached to a plane table) until the line of direction between any two of its points is parallel to the corresponding direction in nature.
    Synonym: (commonly Britain) orientate
    • 1855, W. M. Gillespie, “Part VIII. Plane Table Surveying.”, in A Treatise on Land-surveying: [], New York, N.Y.; London: D. Appleton & Co., [], OCLC 495225117, paragraph 456 (To Orient the Table), page 309:
      Without a compass the table is oriented, when set at one end of a line previously determined, by sighting back on this line, [...]. To orient the table, when at a station unconnected with others, is more difficult.
    • 1963, Karl E. Moessner, Accuracy of Ground Point Location from Aerial Photographs (U.S. Forest Service Research Note; INT-5), Ogden, Ut.: Intermountain Forest & Range Experiment Station, Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, OCLC 630805879, page 4:
      He orients his photo-scale protractor over the intersection of the base line and compass line extended, by means of the bearing of base line AB (S. 32° W.) and reads bearing of compass line RP to 7 (N. 80° W.).
  3. (transitive) To direct towards or point at a particular direction.
    Synonym: (commonly Britain) orientate
    The workers oriented all the signs to face the road.
    • 1931 December 1, C[harles] G. Weber; F[rederick] T. Carson; L[eo] W[illiam] Snyder, “Properties Studied and Test Methods Used”, in Properties of Fiber Building Boards (Miscellaneous Publication, Bureau of Standards; no. 132), Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 28006596, section 3 (Insulating Values), page 13:
      The present methods of manufacture of fiber boards tend to orient the fibers so that they are most effective for insulation.
    • 1963 November, M. E. Whitten; L. A. Baumann, “Theory of Dielectric Constant Measurements”, in Evaluation of a Rapid Method of Determining Oil Content of Soybeans (United States Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin; no. 1296), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, OCLC 247004459, page 7:
      When a substance is placed in an electric field, the molecules tend to orient themselves in a definite pattern with respect to the direction of the field. The dielectric constant of the material can, for simplicity, be defined as a measure of the degree to which the individual particles are oriented or the material polarized.
    • 2007 November, Gil Schwartz, “Escape from the job monster”, in Men's Health, volume 22, number 9, ISSN 1054-4836, page 122:
      The goal is to draw on reservoirs of strength that defy rational thought, so you can wrench your poor, obsessed spirit away from work and orient it toward stuff that matters.
  4. (transitive, reflexive) To determine which direction one is facing.
    Let me just orient myself and we can be on our way.
    • 1850, Horace Mann, A Few Thoughts for a Young Man: A Lecture, Delivered before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, on Its 29th Anniversary, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, OCLC 12252945, page 84:
      All around your spirit, the universe lies open and free, and you can go where you will. Orient yourself! Orient yourself! [...] [S]tudy and obey the sublime laws on which the frame of nature was constructed; study and obey the sublimer laws on which the soul of man was formed; and the fulness of the power and the wisdom and the blessedness, with which God has filled and lighted up this resplendent universe, shall all be yours!
    • 1879 March, James French, “The Great Pyramid in Connection with the Pleiades; or, The Last Anniversary of the Great Year of the Pleiades. When, How, and Why Celebrated.”, in Kansas City Review of Science and Industry, a Monthly Record of Progress in Science, Mechanic Arts and Literature, volume II, number 12, Kansas City, Mo.: Journal of Commerce Printing and Publishing House, OCLC 1755009, page 758:
      The two stars, one at the Pole and the other at the Equator, were essential to both orienting and dating the structure. Hence the conclusion that the Great Pyramid could not have accomplished its design as a monumental witnessing pillar at any other time, and that the only time when the aid indispensable was possible was B.C. 2170.
  5. (transitive, often reflexive, figuratively) To familiarize (oneself or someone) with a circumstance or situation.
    Synonym: (commonly Britain) orientate
    Antonyms: disorient, disorientate
    Give him time to orient himself within the new hierarchy.
    • 1913, G[eorge] R[obert] S[towe] Mead, “Vaihinger’s Philosophy of the ‘As If’”, in Quests Old and New, London: G[eorge] Bell & Sons, Ltd., OCLC 3141009, page 257:
      Thus the thought-world is a symbol, or system of symbols, which serves the organic beings of the real world for orienting themselves in the world of actual being, and is the means whereby they translate the proceedings of this world into the language of the soul.
    • 1991 September, “Appendix B: Occupational Descriptions”, in Area Wage Survey: Charlotte—Gastonia—Rock Hill; North Carolina—South Carolina Metropolitan Area (Bulletin; 3060-27), [Washington, D.C.]: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, OCLC 315749645, page 41:
      Computer Systems Analyst II [...] Determines and resolves data processing problems and coordinates the work with program, users, etc.; orients user personnel on new or changed procedures.
    • 1996, Holly Alliger Ruff; Mary Klevjord Rothbart, Attention in Early Development: Themes and Variations, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 114:
      The first system of attention underlies orienting to and exploration of objects in the environment and is composed of at least two networks involved in orienting to locations in space and object recognition, respectively [...].
  6. (transitive, figuratively) To set the focus of (something) so as to appeal or relate to a certain group.
    We will orient our campaign to the youth who are often disinterested.
    • 1961, C. K. Yang [i.e., Ch’ing-k’un Yang], “Communal Aspects of Popular Cults”, in Religion in Chinese Society: A Study of Contemporary Social Functions of Religion and Some of Their Historical Factors, Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, page 81:
      Whatever the occasion of the public religious observance, whether it was the holding of a temple fair, praying for rain, or celebrating a popular festival, religion came to serve as a symbol of common devotion in bringing people out of their divergent routines and orienting them toward community activities.
  7. (intransitive) To change direction to face a certain way.
    • 1984 February, “Appendix T: Biological Opinion from National Marine Fisheries Service for Proposed Southern California Lease Offering, February 1984”, in EIS: Environmental Impact Statement: Proposed Southern California Lease Offering, final volume 2, Los Angeles, Calif.: Prepared by the Minerals Management Service, Pacific OCS Region, published April 1984, OCLC 11444464, page 8-239:
      Observation stations were established at vantage points along the coast to monitor gray whale responses to the sounds generated by the air gun array. [...] At 3 miles some whales appeared to orient toward the sound.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ orient(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 11 June 2019.
  2. ^ Compare “orient, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2004; “orient”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ orient, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 11 June 2019.
  4. ^ orient, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2004.

Further reading[edit]




Borrowed from Latin oriens, orientem.



orient m (plural orients)

  1. Orient
  2. east
    Synonym: est
    Antonyms: occident, oest

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Old French[edit]


orient m (nominative singular orienz or orientz)

  1. Alternative form of oriant



Borrowed from French orient, Latin oriens, orientem.


orient n (uncountable)

  1. east, Orient



Related terms[edit]