planet

[12] A planet is etymologically a ‘wanderer’. The word comes via Old French planete and late Latin planēta from Greek planétos, a derivative of the verb planasthai ‘wander’. This was applied to any heavenly body that appeared to move or ‘wander’ across the skies among the fixed stars, which in ancient astronomy included the sun and moon as well as Mars, Venus, etc. The modern application to a ‘body that orbits the sun (or similar star)’ dates from the mid 17th century.
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   The planets were originally regarded as special kinds of stars, in that they changed their position in the sky much more obviously and frequently than the regular stars did. Hence the source of their name in Greek planetes, 'wanderer.'

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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