a. A grouping of stars on the celestial sphere perceived as a figure or design, especially one of the 88 recognized groups named after characters from classical Greek and Roman mythology as well as various common animals and objects.
b. An area of the celestial sphere occupied by one of the 88 recognized constellations.
2. The configuration of planets at the time of one's birth, regarded by astrologers as determining one's character or fate.
3. A gathering or assemblage, especially of prominent persons or things: The symposium was attended by a constellation of artists and writers.
4. A set or configuration, as of related items, properties, ideas, or individuals: a constellation of demands ranging from better food to improved health care; a constellation of feelings about the divorce.
[Middle English constellacioun, from Old French constellation, from Late Latin cōnstēllātiō, cōnstēllātiōn- : Latin com-, com- + Latin stēlla, star; see ster-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
con·stella·to′ry (-stĕlə-tôr′ē) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.