Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Printing Three asterisks in a triangular formation used to call attention to a following passage.
  • n. Astronomy A cluster of stars smaller than a constellation.
  • n. Mineralogy A six-rayed starlike figure optically produced in some crystal structures by reflected or transmitted light.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small group of stars that forms a visible pattern but is not an official constellation.
  • n. A rarely used typographical symbol (⁂, three asterisks arranged in a triangle), used to call attention to a passage or to separate subchapters in a book.
  • n. A star-shaped figure exhibited by some crystals by reflected light (as in a star sapphire) or by transmitted light (as in some mica).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A constellation.
  • n. A small cluster of stars.
  • n.
  • n. An asterisk, or mark of reference.
  • n. Three asterisks placed in this manner, ⁂, to direct attention to a particular passage.
  • n. An optical property of some crystals which exhibit a star-shaped by reflected light, as star sapphire, or by transmitted light, as some mica.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A group of stars: formerly equivalent to constellation, but now appropriated to any small cluster of stars, whether a part of a constellation or not.
  • n. An asterisk, or mark of reference.
  • n. Three asterisks placed thus, , or thus, , before a passage, to direct attention to it.
  • n. An optical property exhibited by some crystallized minerals which show a star-shaped luminous figure when viewed by reflected light, as the asteriated sapphire, or by transmitted light, as some kinds of phlogopite.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (astronomy) a cluster of stars (or a small constellation)
  • n. (mineralogy) a star-shaped figure with six rays that is seen in some crystal structures under reflected or transmitted light

Etymologies

Greek asterismos, constellation, from astēr, star.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἀστερισμός ("group of stars"), from ἀστήρ ("star"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • It's also a word from gemology.

    December 23, 2011

  • JM aspires to form an asterism with all the other asterisks he knows.

    July 31, 2010

  • Three asterisks used to direct attention to a passage. (from Phrontistery)

    May 22, 2008

  • Sub- or supersets of constellations which build a constellation itself, or a group of stars, physically related or not. Best known is the Big Dipper as a part of the Great Bear.

    January 4, 2007