The word asterisk derives from ‘asteriskos’, a Greek word meaning ‘little star’.
It developed from a character used by Aristarchus of Samothrace called the asteriskos, which he used two thousand years ago when proofreading Homeric poetry to mark lines that were duplicated.
The asterisk evolved in shape over time but its use as a way of marking corrections remained. By the Middle Ages, the asterisk was used for emphasis in text, sometimes linking them to a comment in the margin. Three asterisks arranged in a triangle, called an asterism, signals a section break, although it is now rarely used.
The asterisk still has many uses in modern times, including footnotes, emphasis, multiplication and censorship.