- [Astron] An interception or obscuration of the light of the sun, moon, or other luminous body, by the intervention of some other body, either between it and the eye, or between the luminous body and that illuminated by it. A lunar eclipse is caused by the moon passing through the earth's shadow; a solar eclipse, by the moon coming between the sun and the observer. A satellite is eclipsed by entering the shadow of its primary. The obscuration of a planet or star by the moon or a planet, though of the nature of an eclipse, is called an occultation. The eclipse of a small portion of the sun by Mercury or Venus is called a transit of the planet."That fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark." [Milton.]
- The loss, usually temporary or partial, of light, brilliancy, luster, honor, consciousness, etc.; obscuration; gloom; darkness."All the posterity of our fist parents suffered a perpetual eclipse of spiritual life." [Sir W. Raleigh.]"As in the soft and sweet eclipse, When soul meets soul on lovers' lips." [Shelley.]
Note: ☞ In ancient times, eclipses were, and among unenlightened people they still are, superstitiously regarded as forerunners of evil fortune, a sentiment of which occasional use is made in literature.
Etymology: F. éclipse, L. eclipsis, fr. Gr. 'e`kleipsis, prop., a forsaking, failing, fr. 'eklei`pein to leave out, forsake; 'ek out + lei`pein to leave. See Ex-, and Loan