The Grand Cosmos ~ Grandiloquent Words



The word cosmos is used to refer to an orderly and harmonious universe, a universe which is neither chaotic or random. The word is derived directly from the Greek kosmos and its earliest known written usage dates from 1596.

We employ the word cosmic when we want to indicate that something, some event, or some process is of vast proportions, not unlike the vastness of extraterrestrial space. In philosophy the term may refer to abstract, spiritual, or metaphysical ideas and concepts, and the word cosmic can be found in manuscripts as early as 1685.



Nebulae are breathtakingly beautiful and they are composed of nothing more that swirling, drifting, irregularly shaped clouds of dust or gas (or some combination of the two) in interstellar space. They make up a very small percentage of any particular galaxies mass. We all have our favorite nebula: the Crab Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, the Nebula. Some nebulae reflect the light of nearby stars, but some generate light from within their centers.

The word nebula comes to us from the Greek nephele’ or nephos which had to do with clouds. It was then transmitted through Old High German where the term meant fog and through Latin where the term meant mist or cloud. Interestingly, you will find the word nebula in a Medical Dictionary, where it is used to describe a cornea which has a slightly clouded and opaque area.


Planets - Inert Bodies

When we think of the universe or the cosmos around us, we of course think of planets; these are natural bodies which do not house any internal thermonuclear fusion process generating heat. For centuries, perhaps even millenia, mankind thought of the Planets in our own solar system -- Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (the terrestrial planets), Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus (the giant or Jovian planets which have no solid surface and are composed of gases and liquids).

Relatively recently in human history we have come to understand planets as any large body that revolve around a star, in other words there are many solar systems; we are not the only one. Whether we are the only inhabited system seems unlikely, but we have no solid evidence to the contrary at this point.


Planets - Wandering Stars

The word planet comes to us from Middle English, adopted from Anglo-French, which came from Late Latin (planeta) – which was borrowed from the Greek planes, which meant literally “ wanderer, those objects which wandered among the fixed (to the ancient eyes) stars in the heavens. The earliest use of the word found to date is in a 13th century manuscript.

Also fascinating is the word planetary which has several meanings: anything which is erratic or wanders; anything relating to or resembling a planet; any project or undertaking of gigantic proportions; and as an alternative to the word terrestrial which indicates anyting belonging to the earth.



Astronomy is the discipline or science which investigates the beginning, development, physical properties, chemical composition of all the objects and matter scattered throughout the Cosmos. It is an extremely old science and there is evidence that it was practiced in all the ancient civilizations: Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Greek. Each of these civilizations contributed much to our modern understanding of astronomy.

The Scientific Revolution which took place in Europe(1543-1687) developed primarily based on the work of people that we would recognize today as astronomers (or physicists). Of course at the time, they did not necessarily call themselves astronomers, going by many other appellations: Nicolai Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Isaac Newton are among the most well-known. Our word astronomy was passed down from Greek to Latin, Anglo-French, to Middle English. The first known use of the word comes from a 13th century document.



We use the word astronomical when we are trying to describe something which is inconceivably enormous, something so great, so all-encompassing we have no other words for it For example, a political commentator might say, “We should all be alarmed, because the federal deficit is astronomically large.” And we would all know what he meant, even if we didn’t know the precise number to which he was referring. Scholars have found the word astronomical used as early as 1556.

Sources Consulted:

Oxford Dictionary Online

World Book Encyclopedia

Encyclopædia Britannica Concise

Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus

Photograph - Apollo Space Program
Photograph - Apollo Space Program | Source

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Your Comments are Welcome and Appreciated 25 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

A little bit different offering from you, Theresa, but interesting nonetheless. We are surrounded by sheer wonder, aren't we?

I hope you are well!

blessings always


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Evening Bill. I have very slowly been working on a series of Etymological hubs - perhaps you haven't come across one. This is the third or fourth, it just so happens that the theme for th;s one is the cosmos. :)

And you said if perfectly ... w are surrounded by sheer wonder. It really is all around us if we will take the time to notice. I have have in the last ten years or so been working on my noticing abilities. :) Be well. Theresa

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Just great to learn of two outstanding topics in one hub. I just love how the words develop with our understanding. Yet the root of words are as ancient as man.

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sheilamyers 3 years ago

Great hub! I remember studying the universe in school (the basics), but I don't ever remember the teachers telling us what the words meant the way you did. Thanks for giving me the chance to reach my goal of learning at least one new thing every day.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

This subject excites and thrills me. Ever since I was 12 or so, I've been fascinated by astronomy. In fact, that was my year of lying on the roof, gazing at the clear west Texas night sky and putting astronomer on my "wanna be" list, along with philosopher, ballerina, fashion designer and femme fatale. ;-] I never outgrew some of those ambitions, even now. I can see connections between several of them, in fact!

George & I subscribed to "Astronomy" magazine for years and I devoured it. He had a telescope and loved to observe. There are many books on the many facets of the subject on my shelves. Oh! To be more than one person, with so many things to be taken in! On the other hand, it's a gift and a privilege to be aware and able to contemplate all that IS, even beyond our resources of observation or of 'knowing' either personally or collectively! There's always more to lure us on.

Your clear explanations are exemplary and valuable. Looking into and behind the words' meanings says volumes. Thank you, dear Theresa!!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Afternoon, Eric. Words and the starry heavens are two of my favorite things, so they seemed custom designed for a hub. Glad you enjoyed this. The root words really are as ancient as man, :) Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello sheila - The same was true for me in school. I learned to unpack words and break them into roots at home. My mother was an English teacher who took Latin in high school. My father was Polish and spoke German and we lived in Greece for three years, so I had early exposure to Latin roots, Germanic roots and Greek! So etymology has alwats fascinated me and although, I teach History I work in etymology wherever and whenever I can. :)ones and then there was Greek. Happy to help with your goal and thanks so much for commenting. :)

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Grand things really come in all shapes and sizes, but overall, I like the dual punch in referring to masses as well as the scheme of things as a whole. Great work, and a nice take, to boot.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You always have an interesting way of looking at things, avian. I like that and I appreciate your comments and encouragement. I trust you are having a good week. We are having some sunny days after two weeks of rain (unusual for Georgia - normally our rain is more occasional - just 2 or 3 days a week). Take care. Theresa

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Dearest Theresa,

I just love this series here. I stand in awe of His magnificent creation. Yes, indeed, neither chaotic or random!!!

I am playing catch up here of late! I so enjoy this series, as I have already stated, but I truly do.

I think I may have already mentioned that my brother would love this too, as he is a planetary geologist.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless you, Faith Reaper

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Stellar hub! Very much enjoyed this look at spatial terminology and the amazing photos.

You've reminded me of the references to the heavens in Job. "Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?" (38:33)

The heavens do declare His glory, don't they?!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Nellieanna - You and me both -- I am always amazed at people who have no interest in the heavens, the cosmos. And what a place to ly on the roof and stare into the night sky. (Astronomer was on your wannabe list -- I think about that time archeologist was on my list. :) if I didn't already know that George was a wonderful man (after all you loved him) the fact that he had a "telescope" would sway me in that direction.

Thank you for your kind words. I am glad they were clear as I do strive for that in my writing, well, except in an occasional poem where one is trying to be obtuse or vague for affect. :) I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Faith - I just love words/language and I love photographs of the incredible world we live in and it satisfies something in my soul to be able to combine the two. I am so glad they speak to you as well. Oh, I am a jealous I think. Planetary geologist - what an incredible profession to have. Thanks so much for voting and sharing. Blessings. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you RT. "stellar" ??? very clever play on words and the subject and I almost missed it. :) Job 38:33 is a strong scripture indicating our insignificance perhaps, but also the vast wonder of creation, You make a very good connection. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings. Theresa

MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Etymology and astronomy, two subjects I love! This was so interesting and enjoyable to read. Well-done! ~Lurana

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

That roof was 'in town' - granted, not in a big city, but still with more light pollution than the sky is at the ranch, where the nearest light at night is atop a warning tower 30 miles away! The skies are incredible out there. The only light pollution is when the moon supplies it! What an incredible spectacle! The Milky Way seems to actually embrace the viewer on the ground!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good evening Lurana. Definitely two of my favorite things. Thank you so much for your generous comments. Have a great week. Theresa

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

How did I miss this beauty!...this reminded me of a series of Christmas lecture I used to love watching, I was so fascinated, I went out and bought Carl Sagan's book "Cosmos," the universe is indeed a grand place. It's very revealing, the names given to the heavenly bodies by the ancient star gazers. I loved this, brilliant images. Voting up and sharing.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Feel like I just got a trip to the planetarium. Beautiful pictures and great information. Never heard "wanderer" before for planets, but how telling. UP!

jhamann profile image

jhamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

I love Cosmology. What a terrific hub about some of the most fascinating stuffs of the Universes. Jamie

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Jo - I love Carl Sagan's work and we all three see the universe as a marvelous and mysterious place. :) I just love language and astronomy so putting the two together made perfect sense to me. :)

Thank you for your wonderful comments. I love the images too. Hope you are having a terrific week. :) Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Kathleen - I was so excited when I found this book - the pictures are just marvelous. So glad you enjoyed them like I did. Isn't wanderers for planets just perfect? To the ancient eye the stars were permanent, fixed, but the planets wandered in among them. :) The etymology of words is so intriguing and satisfying to me -- guess it confirms for me that there is a kind of logic and order in our often times chaotic and messy world. :) Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Jamie - Isn't the cosmos grand? :) I, too, find it utterly fascinating ... one of my heroes when I was much younger was Carl Sagan. I loved both his science and his fiction. Contact also became a good film. Thanks for commenting. Take good care. Theresa

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 2 years ago

Theresa , Being a simple and lower educated man , I often stand out in the nighttime and think of just how small we are in this wonder of a universe , My, my though , don't we just get ourselves all mixed up in the complications of mankind ! I say we turn off all the streetlights at say , 9;pm and all stand and gaze at the sky ! Together ! Just to realize how perfect this universe really is ! Are we lucky or what !++++++

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 months ago from Texas

What an interesting lesson on the cosmos. I find them to be fascinating, for sure, but I don't know much about astronomy. I have some rather strange memories from a college experience involving this subject. (No, I wasn't high or drunk. LOL.) We had a couple of strange professors and a class so poorly designed that most of the class failed and we all had to take it again since it was required course.

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