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late 14c., artik, from Old French artique, from Medieval Latin articus, from Latin arcticus, from Greek arktikos "of the north," literally "of the (constellation) Bear," from arktos "bear; Ursa Major; the region of the north," the Bear being a northerly constellation. From *rkto-, the usual Indo-European base for "bear" (cf. Avestan aresho, Armenian arj, Albanian ari, Latin ursus, Welsh arth); see bear (n.) for why the name changed in Germanic. The -c- was restored from 1550s. As a noun, "the Arctic regions," from 1560s.
Note: The weather of the Arctic is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers.
Note: The Arctic has been the object of much exploration by air, land, and sea. The shortest distance by plane between continents in the Northern Hemisphere is often over the Arctic.