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  1. a person or thing that points.
  2. a long, tapering stick used by teachers, lecturers, etc., in pointing things out on a map, blackboard, or the like.
  3. the hand on a watch dial, clock face, scale, etc.
  4. Military. the member of an artillery crew who aims the weapon.
  5. one of a breed of short-haired hunting dogs trained to point game.
  6. a piece of advice, especially on how to succeed in a specific area: The food expert gave some good pointers on making better salads.
  7. Computers.
    1. an identifier giving the location in storage of something of interest, as a data item, table, or subroutine.
    2. cursor(def 1).
  8. Pointers, Astronomy. the two outer stars of the Big Dipper that lie on a line that passes very near Polaris and are used for finding it.

Origin of pointer

First recorded in 1490–1500; point + -er1

Synonyms for pointer

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for pointer


  1. a person or thing that points
  2. an indicator on a measuring instrument
  3. a long rod or cane used by a lecturer to point to parts of a map, blackboard, etc
  4. one of a breed of large swift smooth-coated dogs, usually white with black, liver, or lemon markings: when on shooting expeditions it points to the bird with its nose, body, and tail in a straight line
  5. a helpful piece of information or advice
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

Word Origin and History for pointer

mid-14c., "a tiler" (early 13c. as a surname), agent noun from point (v.). From c.1500 as "maker of needlepoint lace." From 1570s as "thing that points;" meaning "dog that stands rigid in the presence of game, facing the quarry" is recorded from 1717. Meaning "item of advice" first recorded 1883.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper