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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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 Thus Wagner, Brahms, Schubert and Schumann predictably loom large, as does Beethoven, the conductor’s lodestar, whose symphonies dominate this box. David Mermelstein, WSJ, 12 Oct. 2021 Today the album is a lodestar for every messy, moody, mascara-wearing social-outcast garage band that fancies itself a bit Downtown. Kyle Smith, National Review, 6 Oct. 2021 For singers who wanted to edge into a contemporary aesthetic without alienating the old folks, the new lodestar was Streisand. Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2021 Flipping between the drab suburban landscape of the present and hallucinatory visions of the prison, Dynan turned to inspirations from Schrader’s lodestar, Robert Bresson, to VR videos to Caravaggio to help deliver Schrader’s vision. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 12 Sep. 2021 His lodestar was a 1976 case, Washington v. Davis, in which the Supreme Court held that to win an equal protection case, a plaintiff must show that the government acted with discriminatory purpose. Noah Feldman Bloomberg Opinion, Star Tribune, 27 July 2021 This steady stream of counterintuitive advice has made Oster a lodestar for a certain set of parents, generally college-educated, liberal and affluent. BostonGlobe.com, 22 June 2021 But whether the region becomes a national lodestar or remains on its lonesome remains an open question. Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2021 Ryder, who grew up in New Bedford, is an unheralded lodestar in American art. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 15 July 2021

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

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lodestar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lodestar. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of lodestar

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on lodestar

Nglish: Translation of lodestar for Spanish Speakers


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