Definition of astronaut in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈastrəˌnôt/


A person who is trained to travel in a spacecraft.
Example sentences
  • How much food do we need to have on the spacecraft for the astronauts to go to Mars?
  • I always really enjoy explaining how space travel works and how you train for a space mission as an astronaut.
  • It will be the second time American astronauts return to Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft.
spaceman, spacewoman, cosmonaut, space traveler, space cadet



Pronunciation: /ˌastrəˈnôdək(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • ‘John has a deep interest in astronautical science and has the hands-on experience to back up what he has taught in the classroom,’ said Administrator O'Keefe.
  • Between the point where we are today and the point where starry-eyed dreamers can pick up a catalog full of rocket engines and astronautical instruments there are a number of important things that need to happen.
  • He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Ohio State University.


1920s: from astro-, on the pattern of aeronaut and aquanaut.

  • asterisk from Late Middle English:

    The Greeks had two words for ‘star’, astēr and astron. They go back to an ancient root that is also the source of the Latin word stella, which gave us star itself and also stellar (mid 17th century). An asterisk is a little star, the meaning of its source, Greek asteriskos. Asteriskos is from astēr, which is also the root of asteroeidēs, ‘star-like’. This entered English in the early 19th century as asteroid (early 19th century), a term coined by the astronomer William Herschel. Astēr also gave us our name for the plant aster (early 18th century), which has petals rather like an asterisk. Words beginning with astro- come from astron. In the Middle Ages astronomy (Middle English) covered not only astronomy but astrology too. The Greek word it descends from meant ‘star-arranging’. Rather poetically, an astronaut [1920s] is literally a ‘star sailor’. The word comes from Greek astron ‘star’ and nautēs ‘sailor’. It was modelled on aeronaut (late 18th century), a word for a traveller in a hot-air balloon or airship. Cosmonaut [1950s], the Russian equivalent of astronaut, literally means ‘sailor in the cosmos’. See also disaster

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: as·tro·naut

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