[ as-tuh-riz-uhm ]

  1. Astronomy.

    • a group of stars.

    • a constellation.

  2. Mineralogy. a property of some crystallized minerals of showing a starlike luminous figure in transmitted light or, in a cabochon-cut stone, by reflected light.

  1. three asterisks ( or ) printed to draw attention to a passage it precedes.

Origin of asterism

1590–1600; <Greek asterism(ós) a marking with stars. See asterisk, -ism

Other words from asterism

  • as·ter·is·mal, adjective

Words Nearby asterism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use asterism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for asterism


/ (ˈæstəˌrɪzəm) /

  1. three asterisks arranged in a triangle (⁂ or ), to draw attention to the text that follows

  2. a starlike effect seen in some minerals and gemstones when viewed by reflected or transmitted light

  1. a cluster of stars, which may be a subset or a superset of a constellation

Origin of asterism

C16: from Greek asterismos arrangement of constellations, from astēr star

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for asterism


[ ăstə-rĭz′əm ]

  1. A pattern of stars that is not one of the traditionally established, named constellations. Asterisms may constitute a part of a larger constellation, as in the case of the seven stars in Ursa Major that make up the Big Dipper, or they may be formed of individual stars in several different constellations, as in the case of the Summer Triangle, made up of Deneb (in Cygnus), Altair (in Aquila), and Vega (in Lyra).

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.