• lodestar
  • audio pronunciation
  • \LOHD-stahr\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: one that serves as an inspiration, model, or guide
  • EXAMPLES

When she started her own business, Melinda used her father's motto—"Trust your instincts"—as her lodestar.

"For a generation of computer programmers, astrophysicists and other scientists, Mr. Munroe and his online comic, xkcd, have been lodestars." — From an article by Noam Cohen in The New York Times, March 17, 2014

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The literal, albeit archaic, meaning of "lodestar" is "a star that leads or guides" and it is a term that has been used especially in reference to the North Star. (The first half of the word derives from the Middle English word "lode," meaning "course.") Both the literal and the figurative sense ("an inspiration or guide") date back to the 14th century, the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. The literal sense fell out of use in the 17th century, and so, for a while, did the figurative sense—but it appeared again 170 years later, when Sir Walter Scott used it in his 1813 poem The Bridal of Triermain.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "verboten," our Word of the Day from March 18? The answer is …

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE

An expressive t-shirt:

"Use Your Words"

Browse all items »

  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account