Al·​deb·​a·​ran al-ˈde-bə-rən How to pronounce Aldebaran (audio)
: a red star of the first magnitude that is seen in the eye of Taurus and is the brightest star in the Hyades

Word History


borrowed from Medieval Latin, borrowed from Arabic al-dabarān, probably a name for the Hyades star cluster

Note: Arabic usage is not uniform in regard to whether al-dabarān is to be interpreted as the star α Tauri, or the entire Hyades star cluster, though the phrase in the Almagest, translating Ptolemy's Greek text, suggests the latter. Arabic authors took dabarān as a derivative of the root d-b-r, with meanings related to "back" (hence dabarī "trailing behind"), on the grounds that the Hyades, along with α Tauri, trailed behind or followed the Pleiades. This has the appearance of an after-the-fact etymology, however, and dabarān may be a pre-Islamic name for the cluster, of unknown origin. See Paul Kunitzsch, Arabische Sternnamen in Europa (Wiesbaden, 1959) pp. 109-10.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Aldebaran was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near Aldebaran

Cite this Entry

“Aldebaran.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


Al·​deb·​a·​ran al-ˈdeb-ə-rən How to pronounce Aldebaran (audio)
: a very bright red star in Taurus
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