Septentrional

From Academic Kids

Septentrional is a rarely used word that means "of the north". Early maps of North America, mostly those before 1700, often refer to the northern- or northwestern-most unexplored areas of the continent at "Septentrional" or "America Septentrionalis", sometimes with slightly alternate spellings. The term septentrional, actually the adjectival form of the noun septentrion, itself refers to the seven stars of the Ursa Major constellation (The Big Dipper, aka "Septentrion").

"Septentrional" is a more or less interchangeable term with "boreal." Ursa Major, of course, dominates the skies of the North. There doesn't appear to be a truly comparable term linking the regions of the South with some prominent feature of the Southern Sky. "*Argonavital," "Magellanic," or even "Crucial" come to mind, but none of them has any pedigree, and the last one has obvious drawbacks in that it already has other meanings. The usual antonym for "septentrional" is "meridional." This word, however, doesn't refer to a celestial feature in the South, but to the noonday sun:

adj. 1. Of or relating to meridians or a meridian. 2. Located in the south; southern. 3. Of or characteristic of southern areas or people.

n. An inhabitant of a southern region, especially the south of France.

Etym.: [Middle English, pertaining to the sun's position at noon, from Old French meridionel, southern, from Late Latin meridionalis, from Latin meridianus, of midday, southern. ]


"Septentrional" was one of those obscure words which turned up in James Joyce's Ulysses, to titillate the verbophiles of the Literary World.


See also

Template:Geo-term-stub

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