[ rahy-juhl, -guhl ]

  1. a first-magnitude star in the constellation Orion.

Origin of Rigel

First recorded in 1585–95, Rigel is from the Arabic word rijl foot, so called from its position in the left foot of the figure of Orion

Words Nearby Rigel

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Rigel in a sentence

  • Smyth mentions Rigel as a test for a 4-inch aperture, with powers of from 80 to 120.

    Half-hours with the Telescope | Richard A. Proctor
  • Down there they were locked in battle—men and Lassans, his own people and the invaders from far-away Rigel.

    The Onslaught from Rigel | Fletcher Pratt
  • He had known Betelgeuse years ago and personally had always preferred its neighbour Rigel, which had received no publicity at all.

    Tutors' Lane | Wilmarth Lewis
  • Jonas Briggs, a seaman abroad the Carpathia, now has Rigel and told the story of the dog's heroism.

  • Care was taken to get Rigel aboard, but he appeared little affected by his long trip through the ice-cold water.

British Dictionary definitions for Rigel


/ (ˈraɪdʒəl, ˈraɪɡəl) /

  1. the brightest star, Beta Orionis, in the constellation Orion: a very luminous and extremely remote bluish-white supergiant, a double star. Visual magnitude: 0.12; spectral type: B8I

Origin of Rigel

C16: from Arabic rijl foot; from its position in Orion's foot

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 Rigel


[ jəl ]

  1. A very bright, bluish-white supergiant star in the constellation Orion. It is a binary star, with an average apparent magnitude of 0.12. Scientific name: Beta Orionis.

word history

The history of astronomy owes much to Arabic scientists of the Middle Ages, who preserved the astronomical learning of ancient Greece and made improvements on it. The English names of many of the brightest stars in the heavens are Arabic in origin. The name of the supergiant star Rigel, for example, comes from the Arabic word for “foot” (the foot of the constellation Orion, that is). Some other important stars whose names are Arabic include Aldebaran, “the one following (the Pleiades)”; Betelgeuse, “hand of Orion”; Deneb, “tail” (of the constellation Cygnus, the swan); and Altair, “the flying eagle” (in the constellation Aquila, the eagle). The names of other stars are usually Greek or Latin, such as Antares or Sirius, as are the names of the constellations.

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