August 16th, 2019

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Friday word: Lodestar

lodestar, noun
lode·​star | \ ˈlōd-ˌstär

1: archaic : a star that leads or guides especially : north star
2: one that serves as an inspiration, model, or guide

Did You Know?

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.

Example:

Social Note

Lady, lady, should you meet
One whose ways are all discreet,
One who murmurs that his wife
Is the lodestar of his life,
One who keeps assuring you
That he never was untrue,
Never loved another one . . .
Lady, lady, better run!

(Dorothy Parker)

And more from Merriam-Webster:


The idea of public service has been a lodestar for her throughout her life.

...a society seemingly with unbridled greed as its only lodestar

Economists typically treat rational self-interest as the lodestar of human behaviour. — The Economist, "A society’s values and beliefs matter for its economy," 25 July 2019

An important truth, and the lodestar of Harry Jaffa’s life. — Mike Potemra, National Review, "Born on the Fourth of July," 4 July 2019

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Etymology

Middle English lode sterre, from lode course, from Old English lād