I was reading a passage from P. Austin Nuttall's 1869 book, Dictionary of Scientific Terms, and from what it looks like, in both the PDF and Page images views, the word seems to be pseudostella.

However, I looked up the word online, in the OED, ODO, M-W, Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Google, and Encyclopædia Britannica, and I couldn't find anything. So, I checked out the Plain text view, and it showed the spelling is pseudosteTla. But this made no sense to me (it still doesn't). So I thought maybe it's a text-rendering issue on Google's part. But, again, I don't know.

Anybody have an idea what it is?

PDF View


Page images View


Plain text View


  • 2
    yeah, it's an optical scanning issue. It's clearly pseudostella (pseudo- means "fake" and stella means "star".) Googling it reveals it to be the name of a moth genus, and it is also defined the way you describe on Wordnik. I'm a bit confused why you has trouble finding it in other dictionaries – apparently it's fairly rare.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:25
  • OCR has mistaken the first "l" followed by the acute stress accent for a "T".
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:27
  • It has certainly not reached the OED but they would probably be interested in hearing about it.
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it was based on an OCR error that has now been explained. There is nothing more to be said or learned bout this question.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 7:33
  • 1
    "Solved" isn't an option for answers on this site. "Accepted" (which is up to the questioner to indicate) means that the questioner is satisfied that the answer so designated has resolved the question—at least that's how I understand it. "Closed" means that the question is no longer open to further answers and may or may not be deleted (removed from the site) at some future date by moderators.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


The word is "pseudostella", from Greek ψεύδος/pseudos "false" + Latin stella "star". I've never seen it used before but it's a fairly standard combination of roots. The capital 'T' is an error on the part of the OCR system: it's taking the stress marker as part of the letter.

  • @sumelic I generally use the traditional Roman transcription for things like this, as it's traditional when Greek roots are borrowed into English words. But 'eu' for ευ creates an ambiguity in the ending -eus (which could be -ευς as in "basileus" or -εος as in verbal adjectives). I agree it looks weird here; I'll adjust that.
    – Draconis
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:57
  • That's a good point about the ambiguity (though aren't other digraphs equally ambiguous?). Also, it looks like Josh has a citation from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary that uses the same convention you do.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:58
  • @sumelic Not to the same extent in my experience. υι is rare, ου becomes 'ū', and neither αυς nor αος is a particularly common noun ending. But mostly I just leave those because 'ay' looks so wrong. :P And that's interesting with the Webster's, I hadn't looked at their transcription method before. I'll have to do that. (Also to see how they resolve η vs ει vs ῑ vs rough breathing, since I haven't yet found a system that keeps all of those distinct.)
    – Draconis
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 3:05

The term appears to be quite rare, but can be found in a few dictionaries; the accent between the two (l'l) is to stress the pronunciation of a double consonant. The term "stella" is still current usage in Italian and the double l requires a little longer sound. The Tl transcription looks like an error.

  • Pseudostella (Astron) Any starlike meteor or phenomenon.


  • NL., fr. Gr. pseydh`s false + L. stella, star

(Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure the accent has nothing to do with a double consonant sound (which doesn't exist in English), but is to mark the position of the stress on the second-to-last syllable.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:48
  • Yes, but the pronunciation is the Latin one.
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:49
  • No; the image in the OP's question is from an English dictionary of scientific terms that marks English pronunciations.
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:51
  • So why put the accent between the two consonants?
    – user66974
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 2:52
  • 1
    Nobody disputes that the word originates in Latin either. The only part of your answer that I object to is the false statement that the acute in the English dictionary entry indicates a phonetically doubled consonant, when it actually indicates that the preceding syllable is stressed in English (as deadrat notes).
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 3:17

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