What does 'lodestar' mean? Term trends amid New York Times op-ed speculation

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A not-so-commonly used word has taken the internet by storm as sleuths speculate over who may have written an anonymous New York Times op-ed about administration officials' efforts to "resist" President Donald Trump.

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Soon after the bombshell piece authored by a "senior official" was published Wednesday, "lodestar" appeared among Twitter's trending topics and sparked searches on Google and Merriam-Webster's website.

The term appears in a passage of the op-ed that described the late Sen. John McCain:

"We may no longer have Senator McCain," the op-ed reads. "But we will always have his example – a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them."

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But what does it mean? According to Merriam-Webster, a lodestar is "a star that leads or guides," such as the North Star, or "one that serves as an inspiration, model or guide." (Ironically, it was the site's "word of the day" on Aug. 28, about a week before the op-ed dropped.)

Twitter users zeroed in on the word, theorizing that Vice President Mike Pence could be the op-ed's author because he has used "lodestar" in several speeches.

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For the record, Pence's office on Thursday denied that he had anything to do with Times piece, saying he and his staff are "above such amateur acts."

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Others pointed out that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said "lodestar" while describing McCain at the senator's funeral Saturday, so anyone who attended or watched the service could have latched onto the term.

So will "lodestar" shine any light on who authored the controversial piece? Only time will tell.