Word of the Day



the worst time in someone’s life or in a situation

Origin and usage

The word nadir comes from the Arabic word ‘nazir’ meaning ‘opposite’. It first appeared in English around the late 14th century, but it wasn’t until 1793 that nadir came to refer to the lowest point or worst part of something.


Nadir is a word that refers to the worst time in a situation or a person’s life. These low points can occur in many different ways.
In the treatment of cancer, nadir describes the lowest point a person’s blood cell count reaches as a result of chemotherapy and other medical interventions.

In business, a nadir would be the point at which a company has lost so much money that it must close its doors or make drastic changes in order to continue doing business.

A nadir in sports could describe a string of consecutive losses by a team or a player’s career-ending injury.

The nadir of an ocean tide is the point at which the water reaches its absolute lowest level before the tide begins to come back in and the waters rise again.

Nadir is the opposite of ‘zenith’, a word that means the highest point in a person’s life or in a situation. Therefore, a nadir is almost always followed by improvement and a climb back up to a high point. Nadir is the worst and lowest a person or circumstance can get, so it makes sense that a nadir is also a turning point from which things begin to change for the better.


“I think 1973 was the nadir of fashion. When you watch the coverage from that era, you’re struck by the astonishing ugliness of the clothes.”

(John Malkovich)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

About the author

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

Leave a Comment