What are the differences between the two? I thought that "World" means everything, i.e the same as "Universe". But people seem to think it means the same as "Earth".
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I am with the people.
To me as well, World = Earth while the Universe = earth and space including the great unknown.
The Oxford seems to agree.
Origin of World: Old English w(e)oruld, from a Germanic compound meaning 'age of man'; related to Dutch wereld and German Welt.
Origin of Universe: late Middle English: from Old French univers or Latin universum, neuter of universus 'combined into one, whole', from uni- 'one' + versus 'turned' (past participle of vertere).
World generally means Earth, as InSane mentioned.
Sometimes, however, it is used in a more general sense. See definitions 7-9 in this dictionary entry. Also, consider the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (also known as many-universes) and the notion of possible world in philosophy and logic.
I speculate that "world" is often seen as an acceptable substitute for "universe" (even though it's a less common meaning) for reasons of convenience: "world" is two syllables shorter.
I'd say the difference depends on context. The most literal senses of world versus universe are, respectively, the planet Earth versus all that exists. However, for practical purposes, it is often clear that all instances of a thing that could possibly exist must exist on our planet, so that the difference becomes irrelevant.
Since there are hardly any men outside Earth, the words world and universe could be used interchangeably here.
Since there are mountains on Mars, you could not substitute world here.
In many expressions where it doesn't matter, the word world is used because it is the more common word.
Universe means all existing matter and space considered as a whole; it is also used with the meaning of a particular sphere of activity, interest, or experience.
Universe is unambiguous. It only ever means all that exists. World can have all of the meanings stated in previous answers to the question.