early 14c., constellacioun, "position of a planet in the zodiac;" late 14c., "one of the recognized star patterns handed down from antiquity" (in the zodiac or not), from Old French constellacion "constellation, conjuncture (of planets)" and directly from Late Latin constellationem (nominative constellatio) "a collection of stars," especially as supposed to exert influence on human affairs," from constellatus "set with stars," from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + past participle of stellare "to shine," from stella "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star").
The oldest sense is astrological, of the position of planets ("stars") relative to the zodiac signs on a given day, usually the day of one's birth, as a determiner of one's character. "I folwed ay myn inclinacioun/By vertu of my constillacioun" (Chaucer, "Wife's Prologue," c. 1386). In modern use "a group of fixed stars to which a definite name has been given but does not form part of another named group (compare asterism). Figuratively, "any assemblage of a brilliant or distinguished character"(1630s).
The classical northern constellations probably were formed in prehistoric Mesopotamia; the Greeks likely picked them up c. 500 B.C.E., and Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90-c. 168) of Alexandria codified 48 of them, all still current, in his "Almagest" (2c.). The canonical list was expanded from 16c. as Europeans explored southern regions whose stars were invisible from Alexandria and as astronomers filled in the dimmer regions between the established figures, so that by the late 19c. as many as 109 constellations were shown on maps. The modern roster was set at 88 by the International Astronomical Union in 1922.
Old English ramm "male sheep," also "battering ram, instrument for crushing or driving by impact," and the zodiac sign; earlier rom "male sheep," a West Germanic word (cognates: Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German ram), of unknown origin. Perhaps [Klein] connected with Old Norse rammr "strong," Old Church Slavonic ramenu "impetuous, violent."
1590s, "having an angle or angles, pointy," from Latin angularis "having corners or angles," from angulus "angle, corner" (see angle (n.)). It is attested earlier in an astrological sense, "occupying a cardinal point of the zodiac" (late 14c.). Angulous "having many corners" is from mid-15c. Angular as "measured by an angle" is from 1670s, hence angular motion "motion of a body which moves around a fixed point."
southern constellation; ninth sign of the zodiac, late Old English, from Latin, literally "archer," properly "pertaining to arrows," from sagitta "arrow," which probably is from a pre-Latin Mediterranean language.
Meaning "person born under Sagittarius" is attested from 1940 (properly Sagittarian, which is attested by 1911). The star-picture represents a centaur drawing a bow, scholars suspect it to have been originally a Babylonian god, but to modern observers it only looks vaguely like a teapot.
French astronautique (adj.) had been coined 1927 by "J.H. Rosny," pen name of Belgian-born science fiction writer Joseph Henri Honoré Boex, on model of aéronautique, and Astronaut was used in 1880 as the name of a fictional spaceship by English writer Percy Greg in "Across the Zodiac."
Old English tacen "sign, symbol, evidence" (related to verb tæcan "show, explain, teach"), from Proto-Germanic *taikna- (source also of Old Saxon tekan, Old Norse teikn "zodiac sign, omen, token," Old Frisian tekan, Middle Dutch teken, Dutch teken, Old High German zeihhan, German zeichen, Gothic taikn "sign, token"), from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly."
Meaning "coin-like piece of stamped metal" is first recorded 1590s. Older sense of "evidence" is retained in by the same token (mid-15c.), originally "introducing a corroborating circumstance" [OED].
Not a separate constellation in ancient Greece, where it was khelae, "the claws" of adjacent Skorpios. Nativized in Old Norse as skala-merki. Meaning "person born under the sign of Libra" is from 1894. Related: Libral; Libran.
As a noun in astrology, "point of the ecliptic or sign of the zodiac which is on the eastern horizon at the moment of birth." The planet that rules the ascendant is believed to have predominant influence on the horoscope. Hence in the ascendant "ruling, dominant" (not, as is often thought, "rising"), 1670s, and the adjective meaning "superior, dominant," 1806.
Trojan youth taken by Zeus as his cup-bearer (and lover), from Greek Ganymedes, perhaps a non-Greek name, or from ganymai "I rejoice, am glad" (related to ganos "brightness; sheen; gladness, joy; pride") + medea (plural) "counsels, plans, cunning" (see Medea); taken in Greek folk-etymology to mean "delighting in genitals."
Used figuratively of serving-boys (c. 1600) and catamites (1590s). Associated with Aquarius in the zodiac. As the name of one of the four large satellites of Jupiter, proposed in Latin 1610s, but not widely used before 1847.