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for Wednesday, 8 April 2020

perigee

[ per-i-jee ]

noun

Astronomy

the point in the orbit of a heavenly body, especially the moon, or of an artificial satellite at which it is nearest to the earth.

What is the origin of perigee?

Perigee, “the point in the orbit of a heavenly body, especially the moon or an artificial satellite, at which it is nearest to the earth,” comes via French périgée from the New Latin noun perigēum, perigaeum, from the Greek adjective perígeios, a term in Stoic philosophy meaning “surrounding the earth,” and as an astronomical term, “near the earth (e.g., the moon).” The noun plus adjective phrase perígeion semeîon (“sign, signal”) means “the perigee”; the phrase is also shortened to perígeion, a noun use of the neuter adjective. The Greek preposition and prefix perí, peri– means “around, surrounding”; the combining form  –geios is a derivative of the noun gê “earth.” Perigee entered English at the end of the 16th century.

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Last updated: 8 April 2020

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