Word of the Day: Cynosure


cy-no-sure /  sī-nə-sho͝or, sĭn-ə-sho͝or



1. something or someone that draws attention and admiration

He felt uncomfortable, for he was a modest young man and did not like to be the cynosure of all eyes.

From “The Blue Tower” by Evelyn E. Smith, 1922 – 2000


2. something that serves as a guide

The 1897 Cape Palliser Lighthouse, resplendent in its wide red bands, is a cynosure to ships navigating the Cook Straight, off the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island.

Ben Handicott, “Top 10 flashiest lighthouses”, ‘Lonely Planet’, www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/top-10-flashiest-lighthouses?msclkid=ee520984aa2011ec95e754e83e710df2, June 6, 2011



Through the French noun cynosure (the constellation Ursa Minor, guide) and the Latin feminine noun cynosura, cynosurae (dog’s tail [the ancient name of Ursa Minor]), a transliteration of the Greek feminine noun kynosoura, kynosouras of the same meaning, which is a combination of the Greek masculine noun kuon, kunos (dog) and the Greek feminine noun oura, ouras (tail).

Thank you to Allen Ward for providing this etymology.