asterisk

noun
as·​ter·​isk | \ ˈas-tə-ˌrisk How to pronounce asterisk (audio) , 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 How to pronounce asteriskless (audio) \ 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

Instead of a standard checklist, bullet journaling requires daily, monthly, and yearly reflections along with bullet points and asterisks galore. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "What Is a Bullet Journal? Everything You Need to Know Before You BuJo," 30 Jan. 2019 The asterisk in the headline doesn’t refer to Herman and Slaughter. Ted Berg, For The Win, "Mike Trout Monday: The 5* Hall of Famers Mike Trout has surpassed in WAR in April," 30 Apr. 2018 The power and privilege that come along with that — being the base model, a person with no asterisk — are invisible to many white men. David Roberts, Vox, "American white people really hate being called “white people”," 26 July 2018 And Systrom doesn’t want that success to go down in history with an asterisk next to it. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "‘Stories’ was Instagram’s smartest move yet," 8 Aug. 2018 State law requires the mailer to carry an asterisk next to names of candidates who paid for the spot. Taryn Luna, sacbee, "That political mailer on your kitchen counter isn't what it seems," 30 May 2018 The only other big-time swingers to play Warped were the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, a band that should probably appear in the story of neo-swing with an asterisk next to their name. Kenneth Partridge, Billboard, "In Defense of the Swing Revival: Why America Flipped for '40s Sounds in 1998," 29 May 2018 While the device does act as an e-reader or sorts, there's a huge asterisk next to that label. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Lenovo Yoga Book 2018 review: The keyless keyboard returns, now in E Ink," 2 Nov. 2018 Selections cause menu items containing those ingredients to be flagged with a red asterisk so the guests know to avoid them, and the selections are saved for future orders. Julie Jargon, WSJ, "How Restaurants Are Using Big Data as a Competitive Tool," 2 Oct. 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 and Verb

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

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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 How to pronounce asterisk (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on asterisk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with asterisk

Spanish Central: Translation of asterisk

Nglish: Translation of asterisk for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asterisk for Arabic Speakers

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