Word of the Day : January 20, 2015

septentrional

play
adjective sep-TEN-tree-uh-nul

Definition

: northern

Did You Know?

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

When he tired of the long, septentrional winters of New England, Grandfather retired to Florida.

"Once the tourists have filtered back to their septentrional homes in Europe, the men of Spetsai resume their norm of shooting birds…." - C. L. Sulzberger, The New York Times, September 28, 1986



Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create another name for the [North Star](/dictionary/north star): RILSPAO. The answer is …


Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!