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I'm developing a small space game where players can colonise and own multiple planets.
How would I refer to something that represents a group/collection of planets?

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...........a suite – Edwin Ashworth Sep 17 '13 at 16:02
Very funny - Gustav Holst would be amused I am sure. – Cyberherbalist Sep 17 '13 at 16:04
So are you going to tell us what the name of your game is or will be? – Cyberherbalist Sep 17 '13 at 23:00
I'll update this post once a final name for the game will be decided! – ukliviu Sep 18 '13 at 8:07
ukliviu, it is more natural to ask questions like this with the wording "What to call". Saying "How to call" is unnatural and not really used by native speakers. – Tristan Sep 18 '13 at 11:20
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Depending on how you wanted to go, I would suggest either "system" or "federation"

  • A "System" of planets brings to mind a solar system. While these aren't necessarily orbiting the same star, they are in the "political orbit" of another, and the analogy would be clear.

  • A "federation" of planets would probably bring to mind Star Trek for some, but likewise, the intent would be clear.

  • Finally an "Empire" would suggest total domination and subjugation. As such, while the analogy would be clear, it may be harsher than desired.

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I see that you've taken the political as opposed to the astronomical view, which was mine. Probably closer to what he meant. – Cyberherbalist Sep 17 '13 at 16:09
Not a "cosmos" or a "galaxy"? – Neeku Jul 8 '14 at 6:59

In the context of a space game, with its sci-fi implications, the common way to refer to a collection of planets in association with their star is: Stellar system.

"Solar System" has a specific accepted instance, which is to say the collection of planets associated with the star named "Sol", called "The Sun" in common parlance.

ETA: in light of what @AffableGeek has written, I see that I probably missed the questioner's intent. So let me add:


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Stellar system brings to my mind a group of stars not planets. +1 for confederation though. – terdon Sep 17 '13 at 17:13
I see that Wikipedia agrees with you, @terdon. Maybe I've been on the wrong side of the language all these years on stellar system. It just seemed to me that the correct parallel to "solar system" is "star system" or "stellar system". On the other hand, what would one do about a system of stars? Perhaps planetary system is the best choice, over stellar system in this case. – Cyberherbalist Sep 17 '13 at 18:22

Though it might not suit your audience, wiktionary informs me that it is:

A quincunx of planets

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Though, this also tells you to use "A consternation of mothers". What if some of the mothers are not consternate? – skymningen Sep 18 '13 at 12:28
What if not all of my arrows are quivering? It's still a quiver of arrows :P Lots of collective nouns are unusual. – James Webster Sep 18 '13 at 12:31
Wiktionary is not right here. A quincunx of planets is not a group of planets, but any number of planets that are in a geometric relation of 150 degrees (five Zodiacs, hence why it's called a quincunx) to each other. It does require more than one planet to be included, true; but it is not simply a generic collective noun for planets. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 18 '13 at 12:56
@skymninge: I've yet to meet a mother whose off-spring didn't consternate her at some point. Insanity is hereditary: you get it from your kids. :-) – Peter K. Sep 18 '13 at 14:43

If you want something implying a physical grouping but not a ("solar"- or planetary-)system, how about cluster?

There are plenty of political words (federation & empire have already been suggested) such as commonwealth, colony (though you may be using that in another sense), union, alliance.

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You could use the word domain http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/domain_1?q=domain . This word has been used in sci-fi to refer to multiple planets and/or moons that were conquered and ruled by someone.

You could also use the word territory.

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Great suggestions. Thanks! :) – ukliviu Sep 18 '13 at 14:54

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