Daily Archives: 2nd November

Star traveller etymology

The term astronaut comes from the two Greek words: ástron (star) and nautes (traveller), making an astronaut a “star traveller”. In Russia astronauts have always been known as cosmonauts, an anglicised version of the Russian word kosmonavt (originally from the Greek kosmos meaning “universe”) and the difference between the two terms used seems to have encouraged other nations.

Officially the Chinese use “astronaut” when writing in English and “cosmonaut” when writing in Russian but the term taikonaut (from the Chinese taikong for “space”) has often been used by non-Chinese media.  The French have used spationaut, from the Latin word for space spatium and some have suggested that the Indian space program should use anthanaut from the Hindi anthariksh, also meaning “space”.