sep·​ten·​tri·​o·​nal | \ sep-ˈten-trē-ə-nᵊl How to pronounce septentrional (audio) \

Definition of septentrional

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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."

Examples of septentrional in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Dominican Republic flyovers could help scientists understand future earthquakes on the Septentrional fault. Betsy Mason, WIRED, 27 Jan. 2010

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

First Known Use of septentrional

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Cite this Entry

“Septentrional.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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