The Etymology of “Arctic” and “Antarctic”

“Arctic” comes from the Greek arktos, “bear,” because the constellation Ursa Major, “the greater she-bear” (also known as the Big Dipper), is always visible in the northern polar sky. “Antarctic,” then, means “opposite the bear.”

Accordingly, polar bears reside at the north pole but not the south, making the Antarctic the land without bears in more ways that one.

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