lode·​star | \ ˈlōd-ˌstär How to pronounce lodestar (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of lodestar

1 archaic : a star that leads or guides especially : north star
2 : one that serves as an inspiration, model, or guide

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Did You Know?

The literal, albeit archaic, meaning of "lodestar" is "a star that leads or guides; especially : the North Star." (The first half of the word derives from the Middle English word "lode," meaning "course.") Both the literal and the figurative sense ("an inspiration or guide") date back to the 14th century, the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. The literal sense fell out of use in the 17th century, and so, for a while, did the figurative sense - but it appeared again 170 years later, when Sir Walter Scott used it in his 1813 poem The Bridal of Triermain.

Examples of lodestar in a Sentence

The idea of public service has been a lodestar for her throughout her life. a society seemingly with unbridled greed as its only lodestar
Recent Examples on the Web This suggests seals may use specific lodestars as navigational cues to venture far from shore—the first scientific evidence of a marine mammal orienting by the stars. Fiona Mcmillan, National Geographic, "From dung beetles to seals, these animals navigate by the stars," 4 Nov. 2019 Harbor seals Polynesian sailors have relied on guiding stars, called lodestars, to find their way at sea for thousands of years, but harbor seals may have beat them to it. Fiona Mcmillan, National Geographic, "From dung beetles to seals, these animals navigate by the stars," 4 Nov. 2019 The House should be using the Constitution—not the Star Chamber—as its lodestar. Kyle Whitmire, al, "Alabama’s AG hates secretive closed-door inquiries, except when he doesn’t," 1 Nov. 2019 For my generation of writers of war, this book, and this story in particular, are lodestars. Matt Gallagher, Time, "The Things They Carried Author Tim O'Brien Returns to Contemplate Fatherhood and America at War," 10 Oct. 2019 The domestic edifice is this hugely successful franchise’s reason for being, the explanation for the movie, the lodestar for the show’s fans. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Is ‘Downton Abbey’ a conservative parable or straight from the playbook of Andrew Yang?," 19 Sep. 2019 Zimmerman also took Bloom and Levine to New York, where Bloom was exposed to Chaim Soutine and Georges Rouault, lodestars of his later work. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Artist Hyman Bloom’s body of work is revered. And the bodies are cadavers.," 31 July 2019 Her lodestar is Valerie Solanas, a radical lesbian writer known for shooting Andy Warhol and advocating in her SCUM Manifesto for the elimination of men. Julian Lucas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 16 Sep. 2019 Her lodestar on sustainability is the outdoor gear company Patagonia, with its recycling programs and environmental activism. Washington Post, "Gabriela Hearst is dressing women for a new era of political power," 17 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lodestar.' 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 lodestar

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lodestar

Middle English lode sterre, from lode course, from Old English lād

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Time Traveler for lodestar

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The first known use of lodestar was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Lodestar.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lodestar. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for lodestar


How to pronounce lodestar (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lodestar

formal : something or someone that leads or guides a person or group of people


lode·​star | \ ˈlōd-ˌstär \

Legal Definition of lodestar

: the amount obtained by multiplying the reasonable amount of hours spent by an attorney working on a case by the reasonable hourly billing rate for purposes of calculating an award of attorney's fees

History and Etymology for lodestar

perhaps from the notion of the lodestar as a guiding light or principle

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More from Merriam-Webster on lodestar

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lodestar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lodestar

Spanish Central: Translation of lodestar

Nglish: Translation of lodestar for Spanish Speakers

Comments on lodestar

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


very cautious or careful

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