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This is "star" in the context of talking about celebrities. My impression from talking to one Australian is that the word has a negative meaning to refer to a "prima donna" -- someone who demands special treatment, etc.

In American English, unless used ironically, it is a positive word just describing an exceptionally talented and famous person (especially in sports or for performers)

When I spoke to the Australian it seemed clear that he meant it in the prima donna sense and he felt that it had no "non-ironic" usage- the word is always negative in Australia.

Is this the case?

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2 Answers 2

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I'm Australian and hear "star" as a synonym for "celebrity". Local news and headlines frequently use "star" to describe actors, etc. without a specific implication.

However in many conversational contexts, the way in which it may seem more negative wouldn't be down to the word "star" but the way in which Australians (at least in the social groups that I know) tend to feel a lot more negatively towards celebrity culture in general.

The way in which I hear US speakers, for example, associate "celebrity" with a person deserving of worship is very incompatible with the Australian "tall poppy" syndrome.

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Your Australian interlocutor is wrong

According to the Macquarie dictionary, star means:

noun

  1. a person who is pre-eminent or distinguished in some art, profession, or other field.

  2. a prominent actor, singer, or the like, especially one who plays the leading role in a performance.

adjective

  1. brilliant, prominent, or distinguished; chief.

It could be used ironically (and perhaps in an Australian accent it sounds ironic even when it isn't ;-)) but it is normally used straightforwardly.

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    Are you Australian? If you are then your answer carries greater weight. In general, do Australians have a low opinion of US movie stars? Is there any stigma attached? Dictionary definitions are helpful and clear up misunderstandings but they are not always up-dated as often as they should be.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 2, 2023 at 11:14
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    Unfortunately, EL&U users are no longer allowed to ask questions from the OP. If they could, they might ask "Do you remember the exact quote or context"? Was the Australian middle-aged or a youngster? Is this Aussie actually living in Australia or are they an ex-pat? So many questions to clarify but we, the community, are strangled and silenced by excessive policing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 2, 2023 at 11:18
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    @Mari-LouA Those questions should be completely fine. Is there a Meta question where this was discussed? Such a policy seems to go against standard SE etiquette.
    – Joachim
    Mar 2, 2023 at 11:52
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    @Joachim The mod(s) have closed ranks on this issue. See this post on EL&U meta: english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15555/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 2, 2023 at 11:58
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    @Joachim, the policy was never 'introduced'; the moderators simply started doing it, and seem determined to keep doing it, regardless of what the rest of the community (including its long-term, highly respected members, such as Mari-Lou A.) thinks about the matter. The meta-page that Mari-Lou A. cited is indicative of the moderators' intentions precisely by the absence of any response on part of the moderators.
    – jsw29
    Mar 2, 2023 at 22:56

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