con·​stel·​la·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce constellation (audio)
: the configuration of stars especially at one's birth
: any of 88 arbitrary configurations of stars or an area of the celestial sphere covering one of these configurations
the constellation Orion
: an assemblage, collection, or group of usually related persons, qualities, or things
… a constellation of … relatives, friends, and hangers-on …Brendan Gill
a constellation of symptoms
: pattern, arrangement
… taking advantage of the shifting constellation of power throughout the known world.H. D. Lasswell
constellatory adjective

Examples of constellation in a Sentence

The constellation Ursa Major contains the stars of the Big Dipper. A large constellation of relatives and friends attended the funeral. The patient presented a constellation of symptoms.
Recent Examples on the Web House of Transformations and various limited liability companies that use the same office address and same name, or similar names, are among a constellation of nonprofits and businesses the couple created in recent years. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, 28 Sep. 2023 The dissolution of Nagorno-Karabakh as a breakaway state is a seminal point — a rare supernova among the constellation of ethnic conflicts left by the implosion of the then-Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Matt Bradley, NBC News, 28 Sep. 2023 Inside the constellation Auriga blazes the yellow star, Capella — the sixth brightest star seen from Earth. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 21 Sep. 2023 Starlink represents just one satellite constellation currently under construction that aims to offer Internet access. Pouria Nazemi, Scientific American, 18 Sep. 2023 Over the last few years, a flurry of theoretical and experimental research has uncovered a strange new face of the phenomenon — one that shows itself not in pairs, but in constellations of particles. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, 11 Sep. 2023 In the winter, visitors are often treated to views of the Pleiades open star cluster and the Orion constellation. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 11 Sep. 2023 Accordingly, part of the service’s deterrence strategy involves talking up Silent Barker’s existence so that Russia and China know their high-orbit space activities may be more closely monitored once constellation is deployed. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 5 Sep. 2023 More than sixteen thousand years ago, cave explorers in what’s now Lascaux, France, painted animals that are believed to represent the constellations. Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English constellacioun, from Anglo-French constellation, from Late Latin constellation-, constellatio, from Latin com- + stella star — more at star

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of constellation was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near constellation

Cite this Entry

“Constellation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​stel·​la·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce constellation (audio)
: any of 88 groups of stars forming patterns

Middle English constellacioun "the position of the stars in the sky at the time of a person's birth," from early French constellation (same meaning), from Latin con-, com- "with" and stella "star"

Medical Definition


con·​stel·​la·​tion ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce constellation (audio)
: a set of ideas, conditions, symptoms, or traits that fall into or appear to fall into a pattern: as
: a group of stimulus conditions or factors affecting personality and behavior development
the way in which family constellation and handling of punishment influenced this particular boyS. B. Sarason
: a group of behavioral or personality traits
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