Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Cynosure

cynosure [sahy-nuh-shoor, sin-uh- ]

1 one that serves to direct or guide
2 a center of attraction or attention
3 (capitalised) the northern constellation Ursa Minor


The Indian fencer is the cynosure of Indian sports at this point in time and the 27-year-old is enjoying every moment of attention and adulation. (Bhavani Devi, Respect Bhavani Devi’s first gain, The Telegraph India, March 2021)

When completed, the monument will serve as tourist attraction of international grade and a cynosure of interest to the community of which the citizens could be proud of.(Omotayo Edubi, Oluwo Builds First Nigeria Arc of Triumph Monument in Iwo, The Sun Nigeria, October 2018)

Yes, we have throned Him in our minds and hearts - the cynosure of our wandering thoughts - the monarch of our warmest affections, hopes, desires. (Richard Fuller, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers)

We were the cynosure of every eye. (Jerome K Jerome, Three Men in a Boat)


'something that strongly attracts attention,' 1590s, from French cynosure (16c), from Latin Cynosura, literally 'dog's tail,' an old name of the constellation (now Ursa Minor) containing what is now (but was not in ancient times) the North Star, the focus of navigation, at the tip of its tail; from Greek kynosoura, literally 'dog's tail,' from kyōn (genitive kynos; from PIE root kwon- 'dog') + oura 'tail'. Apparently in ancient times the whole constellation was used as a rough indicator of the celestial north pole (Online Etymology Dictionary)

Ancient mariners noted that all the stars in the heavens seem to revolve around a particular star, and they relied on it to guide their navigation. The constellation that this bright star appears in is known to English speakers today as Ursa Minor, or the Little Dipper, but the Ancient Greeks called it Kynosoura, a term that comes from a phrase meaning 'dog's tail.' Kynosoura passed into Latin and Middle French, becoming cynosure. When English speakers adopted the term in the mid-16th century, they used it as a name for the constellation and the star (which is also known as the North Star) and also to identify a guide of any kind. By the early 17th century, cynosure was also being used figuratively for anything or anyone that, like the North Star, was the focus of attention or observation. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: c, greek, latin, middle french, noun, wordsmith: sallymn

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