The second brightest star in the constellation Ursa Major, approximately 79 light years from Earth. It is one of the seven stars that form the Big Dipper and aligns with Dubhe to point to Polaris.
[Medieval Latin, from Arabic marāqq (al-dubb al-'akbar), the loins (of the Great Bear), from marāqq, tender areas of the lower abdomen, loins, from raqqa, to be thin, tender; see rqq in the Appendix of Semitic roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.