Look to the northern night skies for the origin of septentrional. Latin Septentriones (or Septemtriones) refers to the seven stars in Ursa Major that make up the Big Dipper, or sometimes to the seven stars in Ursa Minor that comprise the Little Dipper. Because of the reliable northerly presence of these stars, Septentriones was extended to mean "northern quarter of the sky," or simply "the north"-hence, our borrowed adjective septentrional, meaning "northern." The noun septentrion also appears in works in Middle and Early Modern English to designate "northern regions" or "the north." In Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part III, for example, the Duke of York rebukes Queen Margaret, saying: "Thou art as opposite to every good … as the South to the Septentrion."
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