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From Wikipedia

An asterisk (*); from Late Latin asteriscus, from Ancient Greek ?στερ?σκος, asteriskos, "little star") is a typographical symbol or glyph. It is so called because it resembles a conventional image of a star.
Computer scientists and mathematicians often vocalize it as star (as, for example, in the A* search algorithm or C*-algebra). In English, an asterisk is usually five-pointed in sans-serif typefaces, six-pointed in serif typefaces, and six- or eight-pointed when handwritten. It is often used to censor offensive words, and on the Internet, to indicate a correction to a previous message.
The asterisk is derived from the need of the printers of family trees in feudal times for a symbol to indicate date of birth. The original shape was seven-armed, each arm like a teardrop shooting from the center.
In computer science, the asterisk is commonly used as a wildcard character, or to denote pointers, repetition, or multiplication.

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