North

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North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.

North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.

By convention, the top side of a map is north.

To go north using a compass for navigation, set a bearing or azimuth of 0° or 360°.

North is specifically the direction that, in Western culture, is treated as the fundamental direction:

  • North is used (explicitly or implicitly) to define all other directions.
  • The (visual) top edges of maps usually correspond to the northern edge of the area represented, unless explicitly stated otherwise or landmarks are considered more useful for that territory than specific directions.
  • On any rotating object, north denotes the side appearing to rotate counter-clockwise when viewed from afar along the axis of rotation.

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Etymology

The word north is related to the Old High German nord, both descending from the Proto-Indo-European unit ner-, meaning "down" (or "under"). (Presumably a natural primitive description of its concept is "to the left of the rising sun".)

Latin borealis is from Greek boreas "north wind, north", in mythology (according to Ovid) personified as the son of the river-god Strymon, and father of Calais and Zetes; septentrionalis is from septentriones, "the seven plow oxen", a name of Ursa Maior. Greek arktikos "northern" is named for the same constellation (c.f. Arctic).

Other languages have sometimes more interesting derivations. For example, in Lezgian kefer can mean both 'disbelief' and 'north', since north of Muslim Lezgians there are areas inhabited by non-Muslim (until recently) Caucasian peoples, such as Avars and Chechens; as well as pagan Turkic peoples. In many languages of Mesoamerica, 'north' means also 'up'.

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