Is "the Universe" considered a proper noun and should it be capitalized when used in the phrase "Share your magic with the Universe"?

The IAU Style Manual recommends that astronomical objects be treated linguistically as proper nouns. But in this case, the word "universe" is used colloquially to refer to a relative "sphere of activity" - which is more reasonable?

  • What's the grammar part of this question?
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2017 at 14:16
  • I think the universe has no name… universe equates to planet, not to Earth; to star, not to Alpha Centauri. I think the same applies to the sun and the moon… Jun 27, 2017 at 14:17
  • What if you're referring to one of many universes? As in, "Alpha Universe collapsed in on itself as a result of the time paradox and as a result, we are now living in Beta Universe." Jun 27, 2017 at 15:03
  • @tchrist I think it's fair to say that new users do not know for sure what tags are for what.
    – NVZ
    Jun 27, 2017 at 15:17
  • @NVZ There are "surprisingly many" technical measures available to us which we could do to help with this, were we so inclined, ones originally implemented to help manage the Amazonian-sized flood-from-a-firehose of Stack Overflow.
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2017 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration style guide:

Astronomical Bodies:

Capitalize the names of planets (e.g. Earth, Mars, Jupiter). Capitalize moon when referring to Earth's Moon, otherwise lowercase moon (e.g. the Moon orbits the Earth, Jupiter's moons). Do not capitalize solar system and universe.

The International Astronomical Union style guide (page S30) says that the first letter should be capitalized for "individual astronomical objects (such as Earth, the Solar System, Orion, the Crab Nebula, Galatic Center)". As you stated, the universe is not mentioned. It would be a stretch to characterise the universe as an individual astronomical object but I will leave that up to your judgement.

  • ODO Community adds that when referring to the observable universe, the initial letter is frequently capitalized. Jun 27, 2017 at 14:51
  • 1
    I checked the Chicago Manual of Style, but it defers to the IAU recommendations for astronomical terminology (which isn't completely helpful in this case.) Jun 27, 2017 at 15:21

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