Al·​tair al-ˈtī(-ə)r How to pronounce Altair (audio)
: the brightest star in the constellation Aquila

Examples of Altair in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The brightest is Vega, the southernmost is Altair and the northern apex is Deneb. Geoff Chester, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 Look to the southern sky between the Altair and Cebalrai stars to see three clusters well. Stephanie Vermillion, Travel + Leisure, 1 Aug. 2023 In early summer, like now, Altair is roughly 30 degrees above the horizon, a third of the way to the zenith. Phil Plait, Scientific American, 14 July 2023 Its 8080 microprocessor was in the Altair 8800, introduced in 1975 and widely considered the first successful personal computer. Laurence Arnold, Fortune, 25 Mar. 2023 On December 15, several of Aaron’s co-workers at VSP Vision Care/Altair Eyewear set up a crowd-funding account to help offset medical bills the family will be facing. Brian Metzler, Outside Online, 19 Dec. 2022 To find the planets, start at the bright star Altair (in the constellation of Aquila the eagle) and follow a line straight down to a cluster of three bright objects near the horizon. Nora McGreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Jan. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Altair.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, shortened from Arabic al-nasr al-ṭāʼir "the flying eagle," a name for the line of stars Alpha, Beta and Gamma Aquilae

Note: According to Paul Kunitzsch, Arabische Sternnamen in Europa (Wiesbaden, 1959), the Arabic name (with many variants) was applied to the single star Alpha Aquilae for convenience in astrolabe manuals. In Arabic star nomenclature, al-nasr al-ṭāʼir, "the flying eagle" in Aquila was opposed to al-nasr al-wāqiʻ, "the falling eagle," applied to the three stars Alpha, Epsilon and Zeta Lyrae.

First Known Use

1730, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Altair was in 1730

Dictionary Entries Near Altair

Cite this Entry

“Altair.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!