"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" (see arse). Apparently in ancient times the whole constellation was used as a rough indicator of the celestial north pole. Related: Cynosural.
updated on December 08, 2020