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noun (1)

no·​va ˈnō-və How to pronounce nova (audio)
plural novas or novae ˈnō-(ˌ)vē How to pronounce nova (audio)
: a star that suddenly increases its light output tremendously and then fades away to its former obscurity in a few months or years
novalike adjective


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noun (2)

often capitalized
: cured and smoked salmon
especially : salmon that has been cured in a mixture of salt and sugar and smoked at a low temperature

Word History


Noun (1)

borrowed from New Latin, "newly visible star or nebula" (probably originally as ellipsis of nebula nova, later taken as ellipsis of stella nova "new star"), from feminine of Latin novus "new" — more at new entry 1

Noun (2)

short for Nova Scotia salmon

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1927, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1964, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nova was in 1927

Dictionary Entries Near nova

Cite this Entry

“Nova.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural novas or novae
: a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness and then within a few months or years grows dim again

More from Merriam-Webster on nova

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