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See also: Lode Star



From Middle English lode (journey, course) +‎ star, where lode is an archaic noun from the verb lithe (to go, journey), related to lead. Other Middle English spellings include: 14th century loode sterre, lood-sterre, lade-sterne; and 15th century lode sterre. Cognate with Old Norse leiðarstjarna, Dutch leidster, German Leitstern, Danish ledestjerne, Swedish ledstjärna.



lodestar (plural lodestars)

  1. A star used as a navigation reference, particularly a pole star such as Polaris.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book III, Canto IV”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
      Tho when her ways he could no more descry,
      But to and fro at disaventure strayd;
      Like as a ship, whose lodestarre, suddenly
      Covered with cloudes, her pilot hath dismayd
    • 1905, Sidney Robinson Kennedy, The Lodestar, page 332:
      He was no wavering mariner; he had taken his course from a single lodestar, by which he had steered from the first day he had seen it in his heavens — the lodestar that had shone for him and would always shine.
  2. (figurative) A guiding tenet or principle.
    • 1556, John Heywood, chapter 7, in The Spider and the Flie. [], London: [] Tho[mas] Powell, →OCLC; republished as A[dolphus] W[illiam] Ward, editor, The Spider and the Flie. [] (Publications of the Spenser Society, New Series; 6), Manchester: [] [Charles E. Simms] for the Spenser Society, 1894, →OCLC, page 50:
      Selfe loue, to him ſelf tender, to the reſt tough, / Is, of iuſt iuſtice, neither roote, braunce, nor bough. / Loue (namely ſelfe loue) corruptibly growyng, / Is cheefe lodeſter of lets, in iuſtice ſhowing.
    • 1851, Mary Carpenter, “Reformatory Schools”, in The Prospective Review, volume 7, page 355:
      May we not define its true aim to be that of awakening in the heart those feelings towards moral and religious objects, which like attractions drawing towards the great lodestars of existence, shall ever keep the life right and stedfast?
    • 2017, Rutger Bregman, chapter 1, in Elizabeth Manton, transl., Utopia for Realists, Kindle edition, Bloomsbury Publishing:
      We need a new lodestar, a new map of the world that once again includes a distant, uncharted continent—“Utopia.”
  3. (law) A calculated amount to award as attorney's fees derived by multiplying the reasonable number of hours spent working on a case by the reasonable hourly billing rate.
    • 1992, Richard L. Marcus, Complex litigation: cases and materials on advanced civil procedure:
      Many, though not all, of the objections to lodestars seem to us to be overstated.

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