Entries linking to starlight
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.
"brightness, radiant energy, that which makes things visible," Old English leht (Anglian), leoht (West Saxon), "light, daylight; spiritual illumination," from Proto-Germanic *leukhtam (source also of Old Saxon lioht, Old Frisian liacht, Middle Dutch lucht, Dutch licht, Old High German lioht, German Licht, Gothic liuhaþ "light"), from PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness."
The -gh- was an Anglo-French scribal attempt to render the Germanic hard -h- sound, which has since disappeared from this word. The figurative spiritual sense was in Old English; the sense of "mental illumination" is first recorded mid-15c. Meaning "something used for igniting" is from 1680s. Meaning "a consideration which puts something in a certain view" (as in in light of) is from 1680s. Short for traffic light from 1938. Quaker use is by 1650s; New Light/Old Light in church doctrine also is from 1650s. Meaning "person eminent or conspicuous" is from 1590s. A source of joy or delight has been the light of (someone's) eyes since Old English:
Ðu eart dohtor min, minra eagna leoht [Juliana].
Phrases such as according to (one's) lights "to the best of one's natural or acquired capacities" preserve an older sense attested from 1520s. To figuratively stand in (someone's) light is from late 14c. To see the light "come into the world" is from 1680s; later as "come to full realization" (1812). The rock concert light-show is from 1966. To be out like a light "suddenly or completely unconscious" is from 1934.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "star." Buck and others doubt the old suggestion that it is a borrowing from Akkadian istar "venus." The source of the common Balto-Slavic word for "star" (Lithuanian žvaigždė, Old Church Slavonic zvezda, Polish gwiazda, Russian zvezda) is not explained.
It forms all or part of: aster; asterisk; asterism; asteroid; astral; astro-; astrobiology; astrobleme; astrognosy; astroid; astrolabe; astrolatry; astrology; astromancy; astronaut; astronomy; AstroTurf; constellation; disaster; Estella; Esther; instellation; interstellar; lodestar; star; stardust; starfish; starlet; starlight; starry; stellar; stellate.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit star-; Hittite shittar, Greek aster "star," with derivative astron; Latin stella, Breton sterenn, Welsh seren "star."
updated on November 25, 2013