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


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


asteriskless \ -​ləs How to pronounce asteriskless (audio) \ adjective

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."

Examples of asterisk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The chart’s source was incorrectly omitted, as was the asterisk denoting that the data were adjusted for inflation. WSJ, "Corrections & Amplifications," 19 Dec. 2018 The asterisk will be that Garcia one-putted for his octuple-bogey. Tod Leonard,, "13! Defending champ Garcia finds water five times in Masters," 5 Apr. 2018 Some entries, like a loblolly pine planted at the White House, are marked with an asterisk to note that the tree has died. Mark Thiessen, National Geographic, "Trees that traveled to space now live on Earth. Here's where to find them.," 8 July 2019 There's one asterisk, per Golfweek: But there is a catch. Charles Curtis, USA TODAY, "The 10 best walk-up songs PGA Tour golfers picked," 25 Apr. 2018 Golden State partisans will insist that Toronto’s title comes with an asterisk, as the team lost far more in this year’s Finals than just the chance to three-peat. D.r., The Economist, "The Toronto Raptors’ risky bet on Kawhi Leonard pays off with a title," 14 June 2019 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

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,, "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


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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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Statistics for asterisk

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for asterisk

The first known use of asterisk was in 1612

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More Definitions for asterisk



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


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

Comments on asterisk

What made you want to look up asterisk? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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