noun cy·no·sure \ ˈsī-nə-ˌshu̇r , ˈsi- \

Definition of cynosure

1 capitalized : the northern constellation Ursa Minor; also : north star
2 : one that serves to direct or guide
3 : a center of attraction or attention
  • … they have turned an eyesore into a cynosure.
  • —Catherine Reynolds
  • … his rapidly increasing wealth has made him a cynosure in political circles.
  • —Larissa MacFarquhar

cynosure was our Word of the Day on 01/24/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of cynosure in a Sentence

  1. with an unwavering commitment to equal rights for all as his only cynosure

  2. that company is the cynosure for anyone wishing to make it in the music business

Recent Examples of cynosure from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Ancient mariners noted that all the stars in the heavens seem to revolve around a particular star, and they relied on it to guide their navigation. The constellation that this bright star appears in is known to English speakers today as Ursa Minor, or the Little Dipper, but the Ancient Greeks called it Kynosoura, a term that comes from a phrase meaning "dog's tail." Kynosoura passed into Latin and Middle French, becoming cynosure. When English speakers adopted the term in the mid-16th century, they used it as a name for the constellation and the star (which is also known as the North Star) and also to identify a guide of any kind. By the early 17th century, cynosure was also being used figuratively for anything or anyone that, like the North Star, was the focus of attention or observation.

Origin and Etymology of cynosure

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French Cynosure "Ursa Minor," borrowed from Latin Cynosūra, borrowed from Greek Kynósoura, from kynós, genitive of kýōn "dog" + ourá "tail" — more at 1hound, 2ass
Note: The reason for the Greeks' application of a compound "dog's tail" to the constellation Ursa Minor is mysterious, there being no nearby constellation called "the dog" that would seem to justify such a name. The word may have been distorted by folk etymology from a borrowed name, but if so, the source language is unknown.

CYNOSURE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of cynosure for English Language Learners

  • : a person or thing that attracts a lot of attention or interest

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peaceful, happy, or prosperous

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