Charles-wain Definition


(astronomy) A bright circumpolar asterism of the northern sky, said to resemble a wagon or cart. It is part of the constellation Ursa Major and includes the seven stars Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid.


Origin of Charles-wain

  • From Old English carles wǣn, apparently from a common Proto-Germanic *karlas wagnaz (cognate with forms in other Germanic languages). It seems that this common Germanic name originally meant the ‘peasant's wagon’ (the churls' wagon) in contrast to the ‘woman's wagon’ (Ursa Min). Later it was interpreted as ‘Charles's wagon’ and associated with Charlemagne.

    From Wiktionary

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