What the Planets Are Called in Different Countries

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My very enthusiastic mother just served us noodles! This might seem like a random sentence, but there’s no better way to remember the names of all the planets in order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. All of the planets (with the exception of Earth) were named after ancient Roman gods. The names, aside from some pronunciation differences, remain the same for many countries around the world. There are a few places, however, where the names of the planets differ. Here are the names for the planets of our solar system in different countries.

China

Aerial view of the Great Wall of China, showing sprawling architecture against distant mountains
Credit: Yuri Yavnik/ Shutterstock

Since the Chinese have been studying astronomy for centuries, they came up with their own names for the planets long before the Roman names became widely accepted. In ancient China, there weren’t any telescopes, so only the planets visible to the naked eye were named.

Early Chinese astronomers named the planets after the traditional five elements: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal. They also called the planets “stars” because that’s what they looked like without a telescope. Only the first five planets (the ones you can see without a telescope) were named after the elements. Uranus and Neptune were discovered later on and kept their Roman names, but are pronounced a little differently.

  • Mercury: Shuǐxīng (the Water Star)
  • Venus: Jīnxīng (the Metal or Gold Star)
  • Earth: Dìqiú (ball of ground)
  • Mars: Huǒxīng (the Fire Star)
  • Jupiter: Mùxīng (the Wood Star)
  • Saturn: Tǔxīng (the Earth Star)
  • Uranus: Tiānwángxīng (Sky King Star — Uranus is the god of the sky)
  • Neptune: Míngwángxīng (Sea King Star — Neptune is the god of the sea)

Greece

Aerial view of iconic Greek Monastary Meteora perched atop winding colorful cliffs
Credit: Feel good studio/ Shutterstock

The Roman names for the planets might have stuck, but the Greeks were really one of the first civilizations to stare up at the sky and give names to the different celestial bodies. Just like the Romans later on, the Greeks named the planets after their own gods.

  • Mercury : Hermes (god of travel and communication)
  • Venus: Aphrodite (goddess of love)
  • Earth: Ge (Gaia was the mother of all and creator of the Universe)
  • Mars: Ares (god of war)
  • Jupiter: Dias (the Greek name for Zeus — king of all gods)
  • Saturn: Kronos (father of Zeus)
  • Uranus: Ouranos (god of the sky)
  • Neptune: Poseidon (god of the sea)

Israel (Hebrew)

Aerial view of crowd congregated near temple in Jerusalem, Israel, during sunset
Credit: marcobrivio.photo/ Shutterstock

In Hebrew, the planetary names come from various backgrounds. Some are named after ancient Mesopotamian gods, while others are influenced by Biblical events or are simply named based on their appearance in the sky.

Uranus and Neptune were too newly discovered to receive historical Hebrew names. Rather in 2009, a worldwide online poll was used to help choose the Hebrew names of the newest planetary additions. Oron and Rahav were chosen as the official Hebrew names for Uranus and Neptune respectively.

  • Mercury: Kokhav Khamma (the Sun’s star)
  • Venus: Nogah (brightness)
  • Earth: Eretz (land or ground)
  • Mars: Ma’dim (reddening)
  • Jupiter: Tzedek (justice)
  • Saturn: Shabtay (based on Shabbat, the holy day of rest)

India (Hindi)

Aerial view of the Gadi Sagar artificial lake and buildings, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
Credit: Dmitry Rukhlenko/ Shutterstock

India has two official languages: English and Hindi. English speakers in the country use the same Roman names for the planets, but in Hindi, the names for the planets are derived from Hindu legends. The planets are called grahas in Hindi, which means "to grasp." It’s believed that the location of the planets can “grasp” people and influence actions or predict occurrences on Earth. Since Uranus and Neptune are newer discovered planets, they don’t have Hindi names.

  • Mercury: Bhudha (god born of Soma and Rohini, which are the moon and his wife)
  • Venus: Shukra (goddess of “refined things” such as pleasure, love, happiness, manners, vitality, and respect)
  • Mars: Mangal (the Ksatriya or warrior of the gods)
  • Jupiter: Guru or Brahaspati (the intellect and the speech of Vishnu Purana, the cosmic body)
  • Saturn: Shani (the slow mover)

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