1. the curved path, usually elliptical, described by a planet, satellite, spaceship, etc., around a celestial body, as the sun.
  2. the usual course of one’s life or range of one’s activities.
  3. the sphere of power or influence, as of a nation or person: a small nation in the Russian orbit.
  4. Physics. (in Bohr theory) the path traced by an electron revolving around the nucleus of an atom.
  5. an orb or sphere.
  6. Anatomy.
    1. the bony cavity of the skull that contains the eye; eye socket.
    2. the eye.
  7. Zoology. the part surrounding the eye of a bird or insect.

verb (used with object)

  1. to move or travel around in an orbital or elliptical path: The earth orbits the sun once every 365.25 days.
  2. to send into orbit, as a satellite.

verb (used without object)

  1. to go or travel in an orbit.


  1. astronomy the curved path, usually elliptical, followed by a planet, satellite, comet, etc, in its motion around another celestial body under the influence of gravitation
  2. a range or field of action or influence; spherehe is out of my orbit
  3. anatomy the bony cavity containing the eyeballNontechnical name: eye socket
  4. zoology
    1. the skin surrounding the eye of a bird
    2. the hollow in which lies the eye or eyestalk of an insect or other arthropod
  5. physics the path of an electron in its motion around the nucleus of an atom


  1. to move around (a body) in a curved path, usually circular or elliptical
  2. (tr) to send (a satellite, spacecraft, etc) into orbit
  3. (intr) to move in or as if in an orbit

v.1946, from orbit (n.). Related: Orbited; orbiting. n.late 14c., “the eye socket,” from Old French orbite or directly from Medieval Latin orbita, transferred use of Latin orbita “wheel track, beaten path, rut, course, orbit” (see orb). Astronomical sense first recorded 1690s in English; it was in classical Latin, revived in Gerard of Cremona’s translation of Avicenna. n.

  1. orbital cavity


  1. The path followed by a celestial body or artificial satellite as it revolves around another body due to the force of gravity. Orbits are nearly elliptical or circular in shape and are very closely approximated by Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.
  2. One complete revolution of such a body. See Note at solar system.
  3. A stable quantum state of an electron (or other particle) in motion around an atomic nucleus. See more at orbital.
  4. Either of two bony hollows in the skull containing the eye and its associated structures.


  1. To move in an orbit around another body.
  2. To put into an orbit, as a satellite is put into orbit around the Earth.

In astronomy, the path followed by an object revolving around another object, under the influence of gravitation (see satellite). In physics, the path followed by an electron within an atom. The planets follow elliptical orbits around the sun (see ellipse). see in orbit.

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