asterisk

noun
as·ter·isk | \ˈas-tə-ˌrisk, especially in plural also nonstandard -ˌrik\
plural asterisks

Definition of asterisk 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the character * used in printing or writing as a reference mark, as an indication of the omission of letters or words, to denote a hypothetical or unattested linguistic form, or for various arbitrary meanings

2 : the character * thought of as being appended to something (such as an athletic accomplishment included in a record book) typically in order to indicate that there is a limiting fact or consideration which makes that thing less important or impressive than it would otherwise be But the men's triumph came with an asterisk: The Soviets, three-time gold medalists, had boycotted the Games.— Brad Young

3 : someone or something considered too minor for prominent mention : footnote At fifty-four, he had followed war from the hills of Italy to the islands of the Pacific to the mountains of Korea, and countless other places already becoming asterisks in the history books.— William Prochnau

asterisk

verb
asterisked; asterisking; asterisks

Definition of asterisk (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to mark with an asterisk : star

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Other Words from asterisk

Noun

asteriskless \-ləs \ adjective

Did You Know?

Noun

If someone asked you to associate the word asterisk with a heavenly body, you would probably have no problem relating it to a star - even if you didn't know that the word asterisk derives from "asteriskos," a Greek word meaning "little star." "Asterisk" has been a part of the constellation of English since at least the late 1300s, but it is far from the only shining star in our language. The Greek forms astēr, "astro," and "astrum" (all of which mean "star") still cast their light in English by way of such words as "asteroid," "astral," and "disaster" (which originally meant "an unfavorable aspect of a planet or star"). Even "star" itself is a distant relative of "asterisk."

Examples of asterisk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There a few asterisks besides some of those names; more on that in a moment. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, "Who in Hollywood is using inclusion riders? Nobody's keeping track — including the group pushing for them," 19 Apr. 2018 Below, find a full list of nominees in each category, with winners signified by an asterisk (*) and italicized boldface. Mike Scott, NOLA.com, "Golden Globes 2018 full winners list," 8 Jan. 2018 The other big asterisk is that this special offer requires porting a number from another carrier. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Sprint offering $15 unlimited plan to those willing to switch carriers," 7 June 2018 Normally, closed caption subtitling bleeps words in a variety of different ways: phrases, such as (bleep), [expletive], or [censored] may be used, though sometimes hyphens or asterisks are substituted instead (f–k, f---, or f*** are all examples. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 July 2018 The Democrats’ only win in the nearly three decades between 1964 and 1992 was Jimmy Carter’s improbable victory in 1976, an asterisk made possible by a powerful post-Watergate backlash. Neil Swidey, BostonGlobe.com, "How Democrats would be better off if Bill Clinton had never been president," 10 July 2018 The Poor People’s Campaign has got to have an asterisk on it. Matt Stieb, Daily Intelligencer, "The Return of the Poor People’s Campaign," 19 June 2018 Shows marked with asterisks (**) are already on sale through Ticketmaster. George Varga, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Humphreys 2018 lineup mixes Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Coachella buzz acts, and more," 1 Apr. 2018 New Indy Eleven coach Martin Rennie should probably have an asterisk beside his official title. Kevin Johnston, Indianapolis Star, "Indy Eleven coach Martin Rennie has a lot to do in a hurry," 18 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The game validated all of the improvement that was asterisked by the low level of Ohio State's competition since the loss to Oklahoma. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Josh Gordon arrived in NY to meet with Roger Goodell about reinstatment," 31 Oct. 2017 The movie made $60 million domestically (another $40 million internationally, asterisked by the fact that this was the era before international box-office dominated performance) on a budget of $66 million. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hellboy' Reboot in the Works With 'Stranger Things' Star David Harbour," 8 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'asterisk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of asterisk

Noun

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1733, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for asterisk

Noun

Middle English, astarisc, from Late Latin asteriscus, from Greek asteriskos, literally, little star, diminutive of aster-, astēr

Verb

see asterisk entry 1

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Statistics for asterisk

Last Updated

28 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for asterisk

The first known use of asterisk was in 1612

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More Definitions for asterisk

asterisk

noun

English Language Learners Definition of asterisk

: a symbol * that is used in printed text especially to tell someone to read a note that can be found at the bottom of a page

asterisk

noun
as·ter·isk | \ˈa-stə-ˌrisk \

Kids Definition of asterisk

: a symbol * used in printing or in writing especially to refer a reader to a note usually at the bottom of a page

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Comments on asterisk

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to reject or criticize sharply

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