Polaris (n.)

1769, short for stella polaris, Modern Latin, literally "the pole star" (see polar). The ancient Greeks called it Phoenice, "the Phoenician (star)," because the Phoenicians used it for navigation. Due to precession of the equinoxes the pole was a few degrees off (closer to Beta Ursae Minoris), but evidently Polaris was close enough. Also see pole (n.2). The Old English word for it was Scip-steorra "ship-star," also reflecting its importance in navigation. As the name of a U.S. Navy long-range submarine-launched guided nuclear missile, it dates from 1957.

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capital city of Sweden; it arose mid-13c. from a fishing village; the second element in the name is holm "island" (see holm); the first is either stäk "bay" or stock "stake, pole." Related: Stockholmer.

Stockholm Syndrome is from 1978, a psychologists' term; the name derives from the Aug. 23, 1973, violent armed robbery of Sveriges Kreditbank in Stockholm, after which four bank employees were held hostage in a vault for more than five days. The hostages developed a dramatic attachment to their abuser, and a fear of would-be rescuers, that they could not explain.
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1690s, name of an Indian tribe in south-central Pennsylvania, probably from some Iroquoian language and sometimes said to mean "people of the cabin pole;" later a place in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

A characteristic type of covered wagon built there is called Conestoga wagon by 1750 (about three years before the last of the Conestoga Indians were massacred), but it already was an established term, as the first reference is to the name of a Philadelphia tavern, and probably originally it meant the type of wagon farmers used on the road from the city to Conestoga. It seems to have become a popular term in the 1830s to describe the "land ship" used by U.S. pioneers headed west. Also a breed of horses (1824) and a type of boot and cigar (see stogie).

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Arctic Circle 

1550s in astronomy, in reference to a celestial circle, a line around the sky which, in any location, bounds the stars which are ever-visible from that latitude (in the Northern Hemisphere its center point is the celestial north pole); the concept goes back to the ancient Greeks, for whom this set of constellations included most prominently the two bears (arktoi), hence the name for the circle (see arctic). In Middle English it was the north cercle (late 14c.).

In geography, from 1620s as "the circle roughly 66 degrees 32 minutes north of the equator" (based on obliquity of the ecliptic of 23 degrees 28 minutes), marking the southern extremity of the polar day, when the sun at least theoretically passes the north point without setting on at least one summer day and does not rise on at least one winter one.

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Charles's Wain (n.)

Old English Carles wægn, a star-group associated in medieval times with Charlemagne, but originally with the nearby bright star Arcturus, which is linked by folk etymology to Latin Arturus "Arthur." Which places the seven-star asterism at the crux of the legendary association (or confusion) of Arthur and Charlemagne. Evidence from Dutch (cited in Grimm, "Teutonic Mythology") suggests that it might originally have been Woden's wagon. More recent names for it are the Plough (by 15c., chiefly British) and the Dipper (1833, chiefly American).

It is called "the Wagon" in a Mesopotamian text from 1700 B.C.E., and it is mentioned in the Biblical Book of Job. The seven bright stars in the modern constellation Ursa Major have borne a dual identity in Western history at least since Homer's time, being seen as both a wagon and a bear: as in Latin plaustrum "freight-wagon, ox cart" and arctos "bear," both used of the seven-star pattern, as were equivalent Greek amaxa (Attic hamaxa) and arktos.

The identification with a wagon is easy to see, with four stars as the body and three as the pole. The identification with a bear is more difficult, as the figure has a tail longer than its body. As Allen writes, "The conformation of the seven stars in no way resembles the animal,--indeed the contrary ...." But he suggests the identification "may have arisen from Aristotle's idea that its prototype was the only creature that dared invade the frozen north." The seven stars never were below the horizon in the latitude of the Mediterranean in Homeric and classical times (though not today, due to precession of the equinoxes). See also arctic for the identification of the bear and the north in classical times.

A variety of French and English sources from the early colonial period independently note that many native North American tribes in the northeast had long seen the seven-star group as a bear tracked by three hunters (or a hunter and his two dogs).

Among the Teutonic peoples, it seems to have been only a wagon, not a bear. A 10c. Anglo-Saxon astronomy manual uses the Greek-derived Aretos, but mentions that "unlearned men" call it "Charles's Wain":

Arheton hatte an tungol on norð dæle, se haefð seofon steorran, & is for ði oþrum naman ge-hatan septemtrio, þone hatað læwede meon carles-wæn. ["Anglo-Saxon Manual of Astronomy"] 

[Septemtrio, the seven oxen, was yet another Roman name.] The star picture was not surely identified as a bear in English before late 14c.

The unlearned of today are corrected that the seven stars are not the Great Bear but form only a part of that large constellation. But those who applied the name "Bear" apparently did so originally only to these seven stars, and from Homer's time down to Thales, "the Bear" meant just the seven stars. From Rome to Anglo-Saxon England to Arabia to India, ancient astronomy texts mention a supposed duplicate constellation to the northern bear in the Southern Hemisphere, never visible from the north. This perhaps is based on sailors' tales of the Southern Cross.

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