late 14c., as a type of diving bird, agent noun from dip (v.). As a ladle or long-handled utensil for drawing liquid, from 1783, chiefly American English. As the popular U.S. name for the asterism known in Britain as The Plough or Charles' Wain, attested by 1833.
|Big Dipper |
An asterism composed of seven stars in the constellation Ursa Major. Four stars form the bowl and three form the handle in the outline of a dipper.