Definition of satellite in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsadlˌīt/


1 (also artificial satellite) An artificial body placed in orbit around the earth or moon or another planet in order to collect information or for communication.
Example sentences
  • The crash was recorded by the US Space Command, which tracks around 8000 artificial satellites in Earth orbit.
  • In October, 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite, into orbit, Americans were stunned.
  • All communication and observation satellites orbiting Mars suddenly failed.
space station, space capsule, spacecraft;
communications satellite, weather satellite
1.1 [as modifier] Transmitted by satellite; using or relating to satellite technology: satellite broadcasting
More example sentences
  • There have been videoconferences, webcasts, satellite broadcasts and exchanges between scientists on a secure website.
  • This programme will use satellite technology to reflect the diversity of accents and colour of communities across Wales.
  • Harry predicted that Internet broadcasting would largely replace satellite transmission of events.
1.2Satellite television: a news service on satellite
More example sentences
  • This means there are now three ways to access the BBC's services: satellite, cable and Freeview.
  • Listening to radio through digital television sets, whether by digital satellite or digital cable, has become increasingly popular over recent years.
  • The groundbreaking initiative means viewers with digital satellite or cable can enjoy audio and animated visuals from the gig at the push of the button for a week after transmission.
2 Astronomy A celestial body orbiting the earth or another planet.
Example sentences
  • Deep in the outer reaches of the Solar system, a planet, orbited by two moons and several satellites, moved in its orbit around the star known as the Sun by the system's inhabitants.
  • Overhead, uncounted billions of stars, planets, and satellites swirl, creating a heavenly light show that changes every night, and it's one the entire family can share.
  • Huygens has taken seven years to reach Titan, the second largest satellite in the solar system, and the only one with an atmosphere.
moon, secondary planet
3 [usually as modifier] Something that is separated from or on the periphery of something else but is nevertheless dependent on or controlled by it: satellite offices in London and New York
More example sentences
  • Word has it that the company are planning on setting up shop right here in Montreal in the form of some sort of satellite office, but I'm sure we'll hear more soon enough.
  • They have 13 employees and satellite offices in Florida, North Carolina, the Bahamas, Toronto, and British Columbia.
  • Simmonds's company has satellite offices all over the world, and, he said, they're constantly opening, closing, or relocating them.
dependent, subordinate, subsidiary
3.1A small country or state politically or economically dependent on another.
Example sentences
  • It achieved little until 1962, when agreements restricting the satellite countries to limited production and to economic dependency on the Soviet Union were enforced.
  • What was possible in Moscow, however, was political in the satellite republics.
  • This former Soviet satellite country struggling to re-orientate its national economy towards the West is still heavily dependent on Russian natural gas imports.
branch, colony, protectorate, puppet state, possession, holding
historical fief, vassal
informal offshoot
4 Biology A portion of the DNA of a genome with repeating base sequences and of different density from the main sequence.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'follower, obsequious underling'): from French satellite or Latin satelles, satellit- 'attendant'.

  • In 1611 the German astronomer Johannes Kepler, writing in Latin, gave the name satellites to the moons of Jupiter, which Galileo had recently discovered. An English publication referred to ‘a Satellite of Jupiter’ in 1665. In Latin satelles, of which satellites is the plural, meant ‘an attendant or guard’, a use occasionally found in English from the mid 16th century, usually with overtones of subservience or fawning attentiveness. Until the 1930s the only satellites in space were natural bodies such as planets and moons, but in 1936 the word was first applied to a man-made object (at that point just a theoretical one) put into orbit around the earth. The first artificial satellite to be launched was the Russian Sputnik 1, in 1957, and in 1962 the Telstar satellite relayed the first satellite television signal. Sputnik means ‘fellow traveller’ in Russian, while Telstar got its name because it was built by Bell Telephone Laboratories and used for telecommunications.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sat·el·lite

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