Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a difference between the universe and the cosmos? I used to think that the cosmos was a sort of container for the universe, one that could contain potentially infinite universes.

share|improve this question
add comment

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In technical (astrophysics) usage no.

There are a number of different uses of universe but cosmos isn't used as a specific technical term. Cosmos is sometimes used in popular works as a homage to Carl Sagan's famous TV series.

Cosmological is used as a technical term, eg. Cosmological constant, Cosmological redshift - because using "Universal" would be confusing.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Cosmos means "the universe seen as a well-ordered whole."
Universe means "all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos."

The words can be used as synonym of each other, or you can use cosmos when you are referring to the well-ordered aspect of the universe.

share|improve this answer
Looking at the usages of "Cosmological" in Cosmological Argument and similar concepts shows that Cosmos lends itself toward a knowability (even if it is super-quantifiable) or even toward the French apprendre –  mfg Apr 12 '11 at 18:25
add comment

Universe means "the whole world" or "all taken collectively".

While Cosmos comes from the Greek Kosmos (from the OED: κόσµος - order, ornament, world or universe (so called by Pythagoras or his disciples ‘from its perfect order and arrangement’).

Cosmos is the opposite of Chaos, which was the first state of the universe.

Nowadays they are used like synonyms; they refer to the same thing, but seen from different "point of views".

share|improve this answer
"...which was the first state of the universe" - well, we don't know this - it is just an extrapolation, done by a cosmic ("ordered") mind ;-) –  Gottfried Helms Apr 13 '11 at 10:30
Ok, it's a theory, but still it's called like that, right? Or even that is not sure? –  Alenanno Apr 13 '11 at 10:36
add comment

"Multiverse" is the "container" you are referring to.

I believe that the "Cosmos" refers to the astronomical aspect of the Universe (stars and etc), whereas the "Universe" refers to the entire reality.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes, there is a difference.

Cosmos refers to the order found within the universe.

It is the opposite of Chaos, which refers to the disorder found within the Universe.

Carl Sagan is a tribute to the human race, here is one description he gave in the TV show Cosmos. "Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of Chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together."

share|improve this answer
add comment

Though both are used as synonyms, they embibe a different sense:

Universe is the totality of all the matter in the esistence along with the space, whereas cosmos include the interactive forces and some non-matter things which are abstract in nature.

share|improve this answer
What is the source of your information? Always try to cite the references. Also, carefully check spellings and punctuation before hitting that 'Post Your Answer' button. –  Kris Oct 31 '13 at 13:57
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.