Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Lodestar


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is lodestar. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Lodestar is a formal word that refers to something or someone that serves as an inspiration, model, or guide.

// The new arts district became a lodestar for the city’s bright future.

LODESTAR in Context

“There’s no getting around John Wilson’s ‘Maquette for Eternal Presence,’ a stoic bronze bust … in the middle of the first gallery on the third floor of the Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This is very much the point. The museum opened its reinstalled 20th-century American art collections in late May, and everything revolves around it, a lodestar for renewed vows of breadth and inclusion.” — Murray Whyte, The Boston Globe, 27 July 2022

Did You Know?

If you’re looking for inspiration, lodestar may represent the mother lode. The literal, albeit archaic, meaning of lodestar is “a star that leads or guides”; it is a term that has been used especially in reference to the North Star, a star in the Ursa Minor, or Little Dipper, constellation. The lode in both lodestar and mother lode comes from the Middle English word for “course” (lode is still used in some parts of England to mean “waterway”). Both the starry sense of lodestar and the more earthly “something or someone that leads or guides a person or group of people” meaning date back to the 14th century, the time of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who used both in his work. The literal sense had mostly fallen out of use by the early 17th century, but the figurative use shines on.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply