April 18, 2014
satellite (noun)
\SAT-uh-lyte\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a follower resembling a slave2 a : a heavenly body orbiting another of larger size b : a man-made vehicle intended to orbit a heavenly body (as the earth or the moon)
How do you use it?
The four large moons of the planet Jupiter were discovered by the Italian astronomer Galileo and are known as the Galilean satellites.
Are you a word wiz?

When do you think English speakers began using the word "satellite" to name a moon or other body that orbits a planet?

Although it is now closely connected with the modern world of space exploration, "satellite" is actually a very old word that goes back to the mid-1500s. Its origin can be traced to the Latin word "satelles," meaning "attendant or guard." In fact, some English speakers have used "satellite" (the English version of "satelles") to describe someone who follows another person around, such as a bodyguard who travels with a famous celebrity or politician. Because heavenly bodies such as the moon can be thought of as attendants or guards of the planets they orbit, English speakers in the mid-1600s began calling them by the name "satellite." Modern man-made satellites got their name because they, like the moon, orbit the earth.
Archive RSS Feed