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, though due to precession of the equinoxes it was not then the pole star. Also see pole (n.2). The Old English word for it was Scip-steorra "ship-star," 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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