A cynosure (pronounced 'SIGN-oh-sure', IPA: /ˈsaɪn əʊ (or ə) sjʊər/) is 'something brilliant', 'a centre of attention', 'a model to be followed'. It is always, properly used, a term of approbation, a compliment. There is a cliché (to be avoided, but a favourite among sentimental novelists of the early twentieth century) 'the cynosure of all eyes'. This is to be avoided because it is otiose - a cynosure is, by definition, 'of all eyes'.
- Etymological note: cynosure is derived, through Latin cynosūra, from Greek κυνόσουρα 'dog's tail', which refers to the constellation Ursa Minor, or 'the Plough'. From this literal denotation, it was adopted in the 16th century figuratively, to mean 'a guiding star', and from then on to its current meaninng of 'a good exemplar'.
- See also cynosure - sinecure for a not unknown confusion of two words.