Al Alqāṭ (star in Orion)


Senior Member
American English
Richard Hinckley Allen • Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning
LacusCurtius • Allen's Star Names — Orion

The first link is to a website with links to pages on separate constellations, where each constellation's page gives various historical names for the constellation and its most prominent stars. The second link is to the site's Orion page.

It says this about Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta Orionis: "These Arabian titles of δ, ε, and ζ, although now applied to them individually, were at first indiscriminately used for the three together; but they had other names also, — Al Nijād, the Belt; Al Nasaḳ, the Line; Al Alḳāṭ, the Golden Grains, Nuts, or Spangles; and Faḳār al Jauzah, the Vertebrae in the Jauzah's back."

Then it says this about Eta Orionis (technically a "triple star" because telescopes revealed that there were three where eyes had only seen one one): "Al Sufi called them Al Alḳāṭ, which we have seen applied to the Belt..."

The name getting applied in two different places in the sky is no big deal; I've seen several other cases like that before. What I'm having trouble with is the word. That website only puts everything in the Roman and Greek alphabets, and I wanted to find its original spelling. Normally, I can do that by trying out the reasonable guesses at Google Translate (with or without letters for some of the vowels, with or without the "al" prefix, including ة along with ه or ت for final H or T), and seeing which spelling yields the expected meaning. But in this case, none did.

الالقاط: "shooting"
اللقاط: "capture"
القاط: "the cat"
لقاط: "pickup"
(I even tried each one without the Alef near the end, despite the vowel length diacritic in the romanization, and the results were pretty similar: "clamping" and a few more cats.)

Is this an archaic word that's fallen out of use? Did its meaning somehow evolve into one of the above modern dictionary entries? Did its pronunciation & spelling shift to something that the given romaniztion doesn't reflect and I didn't guess? Did the book that the astronomy website is based on just transliterate it wrong?
Last edited:
  • lukebeadgcf

    Senior Member
    English – US
    Hello Delvo!

    I searched everywhere I could think of and could not corroborate that الألقاط (or any of the alternative spellings you provided) refers or referred to Orion, for which نطاق الجبار might be a term that is more in use.

    I would define الألقاط as Abbe did providing Lane's definition. However, Lane gives two senses:


    I would also point out, given that the author used the word "golden," that لقط of which the plural can be ألقاط can have the following sense:


    I wonder what lexicographical source he is citing when he says the word means "the Golden Grains, Nuts, or Spangles." I tried searching for the text "Golden Grains" and "Spangles" in Wehr, Hava, Lane, and here, and there were no results.

    I consulted some Arabic language star charts, and the closest star name I could find to this transliteration is القائد, or Eta Ursae Majoris. القائد just means "the leader" and has nothing to do with golden grains, nuts, or spangles.

    When you search "Golden Grains, Nuts, or Spangles" on Google, a discussion about Orion's belt (referred to as "the Three Kings stars") in "The Witches' Almanac: Issue 30, Spring 2011 to Spring 2012: Stones and the Powers of Earth" comes up, but without reference to the Arabic word. Perhaps the Three Kings were referred to using the word ألقاط in Lane's second sense (i.e., "the three scoundrels").


    Lastly, I wonder if what is meant by "Alḳāṭ" is simply نقاط "points, spots." But in this case, the translation given by the author would be quite a stretch. Or maybe the word is أقراط "pendants suspended from the lobe of the ear, earrings."


    Senior Member
    Arabic - Lebanon
    I looked for a translation of Al Sufi's book into another language. I found an old French translation here.

    On page 207 of the book (page 216 of the PDF file), the translation calls "les trois étoiles descendantes... اللقط al-lakat, les Epis glanés". On page 208, it shows the Arabic text with footnote 3 on the word اللقط:
    Ms. de St.-Pétersb. اللعُط al-lut (اللعطة Tatouage etc).

    In fact, if you check the original book (that can be downloaded from here), you'll see on PDF page 146 that the word is اللعط.
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >