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asterisk

Syllabification: as·ter·isk
Pronunciation: /ˈastəˌrisk
 
/

Definition of asterisk in English:

noun

1A symbol (*) used to mark printed or written text, typically as a reference to an annotation or to stand for omitted matter.
Example sentences
  • Scholarly notes are usually signalled by superscript numbers at appropriate points in a text, but such symbols as asterisks and obelisks may be used instead for footnotes.
  • Many search engines employ wild cards - special symbols, usually an asterisk (*), that you add to a term to indicate different possibilities.
  • Everything should have asterisks and footnotes.
1.1A thing resembling a star in shape: soft asterisks of pollen
More example sentences
  • Toward the end, two dancers madly etched a blood-red asterisk shape, which took on a glow.

verb

[with object] (usually as adjective asterisked) Back to top  
Mark (printed or written text) with an asterisk: asterisked entries
More example sentences
  • It seems only fair that the new records be somehow asterisked.
  • Newspapers still asterisk a word that's common currency in newsrooms up and down the country, but in literature the Chatterley classes started taking it as read.
  • All asterisked celebrities were pointed out to me by Seth, who is much better at recognizing famous people than I am, bless him.

Origin

late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek asteriskos 'small star', diminutive of astēr.

More
  • The Greeks had two words for ‘star’, astēr and astron. They go back to an ancient root that is also the source of the Latin word stella, which gave us star itself and also stellar (mid 17th century). An asterisk is a little star, the meaning of its source, Greek asteriskos. Asteriskos is from astēr, which is also the root of asteroeidēs, ‘star-like’. This entered English in the early 19th century as asteroid (early 19th century), a term coined by the astronomer William Herschel. Astēr also gave us our name for the plant aster (early 18th century), which has petals rather like an asterisk. Words beginning with astro- come from astron. In the Middle Ages astronomy (Middle English) covered not only astronomy but astrology too. The Greek word it descends from meant ‘star-arranging’. Rather poetically, an astronaut [1920s] is literally a ‘star sailor’. The word comes from Greek astron ‘star’ and nautēs ‘sailor’. It was modelled on aeronaut (late 18th century), a word for a traveller in a hot-air balloon or airship. Cosmonaut [1950s], the Russian equivalent of astronaut, literally means ‘sailor in the cosmos’. See also disaster

Usage

Even though asterisk does not look like a tricky word to pronounce, it can be problematic. In both its singular and plural forms, it is often mispronounced as if it ends with -rix. Pronounced correctly, it ends with a -risk sound when singular and -risks when plural.

Words that rhyme with asterisk

odalisquetamarisk

Definition of asterisk in:

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