Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


someone who studies the stars and planets using scientific equipment including telescopes

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun astronomer was first used in the late 14th century. It may have been formed within English by combining ‘astronom-‘ from the earlier term ‘astronomy’ with the suffix ‘-er’, or it may come from the Latin ‘astronomus’. It originally referred to the study of the movements of the stars and planets and their supposed effect on the natural world and human beings.


The 2019 Nobel prize in physics has been awarded jointly to three scientists: half of the 9m Swedish kronor prize goes to Canadian cosmologist James Peebles for his theoretical discoveries about the evolution of the universe, while the other half is shared between Swiss astronomers, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who in 1995 discovered the first exoplanet, 50 light years away in the constellation of Pegasus. Since this discovery, thousands of exoplanets have been found by astronomers, transforming our understanding of our galaxy and Earth’s place in within it. You can explore vocabulary relating to astronomy in the Macmillan Dictionary thesaurus, which is thematically linked. This means that when you look at the entry for The scientific study of the universe, for example, you will find other related entries displayed in the box of links to the right, ranging from Space and the universe to The movement of the sun, moon and stars. Happy exploring.


“I knew there was a school where women could study astronomy. So … it never occurred to me that I couldn’t be an astronomer.”
(Vera Rubin, American astronomer)

“For it is the duty of an astronomer to compose the history of the celestial motions through careful and expert study.”
(Nicolaus Copernicus)

Related words

astronomy, cosmology, stargazer

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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