Old English steorra "star," from Proto-Germanic *sternan- (source also of Old Saxon sterro, Old Frisian stera, Dutch ster, Old High German sterro, German Stern, Old Norse stjarna, Swedish stjerna, Danish stierne, Gothic stairno). This is from PIE root *ster- (2) "star."
Astrological sense of "influence of planets and zodiac on human affairs" is recorded from mid-13c., hence "person's fate as figured in the stars" (c. 1600); star-crossed "ill-fated" is from "Romeo and Juliet" (1592). Meaning "lead performer" is from 1824; star turn is from 1898. Stars as a ranking of quality for hotels, restaurants, etc. are attested from 1886, originally in Baedecker guides. Sticker stars as rewards for good students are recorded from 1970s. Brass star as a police badge is recorded from 1859 (New York City). Star-cluster is from 1870. To see stars when one is hit hard on the head is from 1839.
1590s, "to affix a star or asterisk to," from star (n.). From 1718 as "to set with stars." Meaning "perform the lead part" (of actors, singers, etc.) is from 1824. Sporting sense is from 1916. Related: Starred; starring.
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