Do these expressions,Saturnine personality,mercurial temperament,lunatic,venusian arts,martial arts,attribute their origin to astrology?

  • 2
    (A) It's not a good question until you include some research. (B) These words are related to Roman/Greek gods, which, coincidentally, are what many heavenly bodies are named after. Astrology doesn't come into picture. – Tushar Raj Jul 15 '15 at 6:31

All of the heavenly bodies contribute adjectives to English. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were discovered too late for astrological attributions. The sources may be mythological or astrological, both or neither. I have listed these below, starting with the sun and moving outward to the erstwhile planet of Pluto:

Sol, the sun. Not an astrological planet for obvious reasons of astronomy. The associated god is Helios or Apollo. "Apollonian" just means like the god, particularly in his guise of the patron of the arts, especially music.

Mercury (messenger god). "mercurial" Quick-witted and sprightly, which gave rise to a second meaning of volatile. The same qualities assigned to the god Mercury are the same ones assigned by astrologers to those whose charts are supposed to be influenced by the planet. So astrology and mythology both.

Venus (goddess of love). "venereal," "venerian," "venereous" From the genitive of Venus, Veneris. All of her adjectives are associated with sexuality, so nothing astrological.

Earth "mundane" (from the Latin mundus, the world). Means (not surprisingly) worldly or of the world as opposed to heavenly. Astrology posits that heavenly bodies (and not Earth) influence people's fates, so there's no astrological descriptors associated with Earth. In astrology, the word refers to the horizon as opposed to the Zodiac, so the adjective reflects the ancient view that the world and the heavens are different realms governed by different laws.

Moon (neither of her goddesses, Selene or Diana, contributes adjectives). "Lunar" monthly, from the calendar; "Lunatic" insane, from the causative theory of the action of the moon. Neither mythological nor astrological.

Mars (god of war). "martial" Warlike, "brave. From mythology first.

Jupiter (Chief god, god of the heavens, also called Jove). "jovial" Mirthful, convivial. The happy characteristics are said to be imparted by the planet, so astrological.

Saturn (Father of Jupiter). "saturnine" sluggish and gloomy, from the astrological imputation. The word also means associated with lead, but that usage appears 200 years after the astrological meaning.

Uranus, 1690 (The father of Saturn or the muse of astronomy, Urania). "uranian" Meaning from the former, celestial; from the latter, having to do with astronomy.

Neptune, 1846 (the ocean god). "neptunian" The adjective is used in geology to mean formed by water.

Pluto, 1930-2006 (the god of the underworld). "plutonic" Infernal, also used in geology to mean formed by igneous methods under the earth's crust.

Linguistic information courtesy of the OED.

  • Nicely done. Only quibble is not mentioning other personal adjectives related to Earth (besides mundane): earthy and earthly. Of course, these are not etymologically from Greek or Roman mythology, nor from astrology, but they do refer to the planet. – Brian Hitchcock Jul 15 '15 at 8:20

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