o·ri·ent (ôrē-ənt, -ĕnt′)
1. Orient The countries of Asia, especially of eastern Asia.
a. The luster characteristic of a pearl of high quality.
b. A pearl having exceptional luster.
3. Archaic The place on the horizon where the sun rises; the east.
1. Having exceptional luster: orient gemstones.
2. Archaic Eastern; oriental.
tr.v. (ôrē-ĕnt′) or·i·ent·ed, or·i·ent·ing, or·i·ents
a. To align or position in a particular direction or in a particular relation to the points of the compass: orient the swimming pool north and south; oriented the telescope toward the moon.
b. To build (a church) with the nave laid out in an east-west direction and the main altar usually at the eastern end.
2. To determine the bearings of (oneself); cause (one) to know one's position in relation to the surroundings: oriented himself by the neon sign on top of the building.
3. To make familiar with a new situation: events to help students get oriented to life on campus.
4. To provide with a primary purpose or focus of attention: a medical system that is oriented toward the prevention of disease.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin oriēns, orient-, rising sun, east, from present participle of orīrī, to arise, be born; see er-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.