This morning I was in the shower and it struck me that the word planet might be related to the fact that the PLANEts orbit the sun in a PLANE. Did this naming somewhat happen by accident or was it consciously chosen? If it is the former then I'm simply mindblown by the fact that I didn't see this relation before.

I quickly looked up the etymology on the word planet, which comes from Greek and means wanderer/wandering. Nonetheless, could there still be a relation, both words might stem from the same origin...? Thanks in advance!

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    $\begingroup$ This question seems better suited for the english language site, since your question is about the english language. In german, for example, the two words are "Planet" and "Ebene". Finnish: "Planeetta", "Taso". However, most roman languages do have similar words. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Aug 4, 2017 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ They used to think the PLANEt was flat so.. perhaps that was why planet became the word for worlds. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 7, 2018 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ That sounds feasible. In a lot of the ancient cosmology systems the cosmos is divided into various planes of existence, with each plane being associated with a specific planet. Thus in traditional Hindu cosmology the Sanskrit word loka can refer to one of these planes as a whole or to the associated planet. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loka#Hindu_tradition $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jun 7, 2018 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ No, they didn't think the Earth was flat. Also they didn't think the Earth was a "planet". Planets were the "stars" that slowly moved relative to the other stars. The Earth was obvioiusly not a "star". The word has little to Nothing to do with flatness. $\endgroup$
    – James K
    Jun 7, 2018 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesK Certainly, the Alexandrian Greeks were pretty confident that the Earth is a sphere, and Eratosthenes gave a good estimate of its radius. But I'm talking about far more ancient peoples, the speakers of proto-Indo-European. It's hard to know the details of their cosmology, but we have some linguistic hints. Sanskrit is pretty close to PIE, and it's reasonable to assume that the early Hindu beliefs developed from their ancestors' beliefs. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jun 7, 2018 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


There is no close connection. Planet is from Greek asteres planetai meaning wandering stars (via Latin and French). Plane is from Latin planus meaning "level or flat".

It is possible that both words are derived from the proto-indo-European root *pele-, (flat) However the evidence linking *pele to planetai is weak. Thus there is no more connection between planet and plane than between planet and field (field is also derived from *pele, via the sound change in German from p to f)




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    $\begingroup$ Note that asteres planetai is plural, so it actually means ‘wandering stars’. The singular is aster planetes. $\endgroup$
    – chirlu
    Aug 4, 2017 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Such a shame though they're not connected. That would have been amazing. $\endgroup$
    – Ansjovis86
    Aug 8, 2017 at 22:48

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