1. A sphere or spherical object.
a. A celestial body, such as the sun or moon.
b. Archaic The earth.
3. One of a series of concentric transparent spheres thought by ancient and medieval astronomers to rotate about the earth and carry the celestial bodies.
4. A globe surmounted by a cross, used as a symbol of monarchial power and justice.
5. An eye or eyeball.
6. Archaic Something of circular form; a circle or orbit.
v. orbed, orb·ing, orbs
1. To shape into a circle or sphere.
2. Archaic To encircle; enclose.
To move in an orbit.
[Middle English orbe, orbit, from Old French, from Latin orbis, circle, disk, orbit; see orbh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)orb
late 12th-century German Imperial Orb of the
Holy Roman Empire
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.