1

asterisk

noun as·ter·isk \ ˈas-tə-ˌrisk , especially in plural also nonstandard -ˌrik \
Updated on: 18 Nov 2017

Definition of asterisk

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

asteriskless

play \-ləs\ adjective

asterisk was our Word of the Day on 03/01/2010. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of asterisk from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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."

Origin and Etymology of asterisk

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

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


2

asterisk

verb

Definition of asterisk

transitive verb
: to mark with an asterisk : star

Recent Examples of asterisk from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of asterisk


ASTERISK Defined for English Language Learners

asterisk

noun

Definition of asterisk for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

asterisk

noun as·ter·isk \ ˈa-stə-ˌrisk \

Definition of asterisk for Students

: 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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