Venus words
April 26, 2006 11:09 PM   Subscribe

In English, we have words like mercurial, martial, jovial, and saturnine...

They're derived from our own names for planets out of some kind of astrological/mythological connection to various moods. I'm not surprised we don't have parallel words for the planets past Saturn, since they hadn't been discovered when these words were coined, but what about Venus? The only word I can think of is "venereal", and that's... not quite what I'm looking for. Any ideas?
posted by wanderingmind to Writing & Language (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, it probably is what you're looking for. Venereal is from the Latin venereus, meaning desire or love. Venus was the Goddess of Love. While martial maintained it's war (God of War) meaning, the word venereal, um, drifted over time. "Venereal disease" could easily just be read as "disease of the love regions."
posted by billder at 11:16 PM on April 26, 2006

Mercurial and martial are more about the gods than the planets!
posted by aubilenon at 11:16 PM on April 26, 2006

I don't have proof, but I suspect you'll find that mercurial, martial, jovial, and saturnine come form the Roman gods Mercury (a trickster), Mars (a warrior), Jove (chief god) and Saturn (the father of the gods). These words share the same origin as the names of the planets rather than being named after the planets themselves.
posted by lekvar at 11:19 PM on April 26, 2006

How'bout venerate?

Venereal may be as close as you get.
posted by null terminated at 11:20 PM on April 26, 2006

As for words derived from Venus, there's

c.1300, from O.Fr. venial, from L. venialis "pardonable," from venia "forgiveness, indulgence, pardon," related to venus "sexual love, desire".

c.1410, from M.Fr. veneration, from L. venerationem (nom. veneratio) "reverence," from venerari "to worship, revere," from venus (gen. veneris) "beauty, love, desire". Venerate (v.) is first recorded 1623, from L. veneratus, pp. of venerari.

"pursuit of sexual pleasure," 1497, from M.L. veneria "sexual intercourse," from L. venus (gen. veneris) "sexual love, sexual desire". In earlier use it may have been felt as a play on now obsolete homonym venery "practice or sport of hunting, the chase" (c.1320), from O.Fr. venerie, from L. venari "to hunt" (see venison).
posted by lekvar at 11:26 PM on April 26, 2006

Thanks - I hadn't seen a full etymology for "venerate", but it apparently really is related. I'd thought "venerari" may have been a false cognate, but I'm not really up on my Latin. It looks like "venereal" really is the best answer...
The bit about "venery" is fascinating, too. Where'd you get those, Lekvar?
posted by wanderingmind at 11:52 PM on April 26, 2006

"revere" means to respect and adore and shares a root with "venerable" which also means respected from the root the late root "venerari" which is also to adore, or synonymously to love.
posted by sourwookie at 12:07 AM on April 27, 2006

Wikipedia offers a little more: ‘The adjective Venusian is commonly used for Venus, but the Latin adjective is Venereal, which is avoided because of its modern association with sexually transmitted diseases. Some astronomers use Cytherean, which comes from Cytherea, another name for Aphrodite in ancient Greek Mythology. Other less common adjectives include Venerean, Venerian, and Veneran.’
posted by misteraitch at 12:10 AM on April 27, 2006

Venusian is a beautiful word. I've always loved how it rolls off the tongue. But it might sound more like the noun for an inhabitant of Venus (we're already very familiar with Martian) than an adjective, even though it can be both.
posted by saffron at 3:03 AM on April 27, 2006

The words come from the names of the gods, not the planets the gods are named after.

There's 'aphrodisiac'. Aphrodite being the same goddess.

Then there's also 'hermetic' (Hermes = Mercury) and 'chronological' (Chronos = Saturn).

There's also plutonic, after the god Pluto (Pluto was the name of a Roman god before the a planet was named after him).
posted by plep at 4:54 AM on April 27, 2006

Also, the days of the week can be associated with the gods of the five planets visible to the naked eye, plus the Moon and Sun.

In Romance languages, they are named directly after the Roman god - e.g. in French, lundi=Moon, mardi=Mars, mercredi=Mercury, veudi=Jupiter, vendredi=Venus, samedi=Saturn; dimanche (the Christian Sabbath) is an exception but presumably was associated with the Sun.

In Germanic languages like English they are named after the Norse equivalents - Monday=Moon, Tuesday=Tyr (the god of war), Wednesday=Woden (associated with wisdom in a roughly equivalent way to Hermes), Thursday=Thor (thunder god, like Zeus), Friday=Freyja (goddess of fertility and love), Saturday=Saturn (takes the Roman name), Sunday=Sun.
posted by plep at 5:04 AM on April 27, 2006


Sorry, jeudi=Jupiter.
posted by plep at 5:05 AM on April 27, 2006

Martian and Venusian are commonly used as adjectives: Martian sands; Venusian atmosphere, etc.

Let me be the nth person to point out that the adjectivial uses are derived from attributes of the mythological beings, just in case that horse isn't dead yet.

Also, I propose "uranial" as a descriptor for people who act like jerks in Internet discussions. "He's really being uranial."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2006

While I don't want to be n+1 to point out the mythological connection, there are terms for many of the Olympians and other Greek gods, even among more distant planets. 'Night's Plutonian shore' being the one that popped into my head immediately - Poe used it almost 100 years before the planet was discovered, but it's even more poetic, I think, with the 'most distant planet' aspect to it.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:44 AM on April 27, 2006

As an aside, don't forget hermetic.
posted by aberrant at 10:04 AM on April 27, 2006

A lot of good stuff from plep, but I thought I should point out that chronological comes from the Greek chronos, not from the Greek name for Saturn, which was Kronos.
posted by stopgap at 10:30 AM on April 27, 2006

Wanderingmind, I got those definitions from
posted by lekvar at 11:27 AM on April 27, 2006

"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore."
posted by jenovus at 12:04 PM on April 27, 2006

Follow Kirth, is it appropriate to say that Venusian and Martian refer to the planets, but Venereal and Martial refer to the gods (and their characteristics)?

I can't think of any other planetary adjectives ATM, though there may be some, but just wondering if this would be an accurate description of how everyone uses these words. That's certainly how I would interpret them.
posted by SuperNova at 1:27 PM on April 27, 2006

Also, plutocracy.
posted by mammary16 at 2:55 PM on April 27, 2006

Actually, 'plutocracy' comes from the Greek ploutos 'wealth' (and means 'rule by the wealthy') - not the same root as Pluto the god and planet.
posted by nomis at 5:04 PM on April 27, 2006

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