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

  • n. A medieval instrument, now replaced by the sextant, that was once used to determine the altitude of the sun or other celestial bodies.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An astronomical and navigational instrument for gauging the altitude of the Sun and stars.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument for observing or showing the positions of the stars. It is now disused.
  • n. A stereographic projection of the sphere on the plane of a great circle, as the equator, or a meridian; a planisphere.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An obsolete astronomical instrument of different forms, used for taking the altitude of the sun or stars, and for the solution of other problems in astronomy.
  • n. A stereographic projection of the sphere, either upon the plane of the equator, the eye being supposed to be in the pole of the world, or upon the plane of the meridian, the eye being in the point of intersection of the equinoctial and the horizon.

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

  • n. an early form of sextant


Middle English astrelabie, from Old French astrelabe, from Medieval Latin astrolabium, from Greek astrolabon, planisphere : astro-, astro- + lambanein, lab-, to take.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French astrolabe, Old French astrelabe, from Ancient Greek ἀστρολάβος (astrolabos, "star-taking"), from ἄστρον (astron, "star") + λαμβάνω (lambanō, "I take"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Lovely word. "I take the stars", what an etymology.

    January 3, 2014