I am writing fictional stories that are universe-wide, and I feel like the world "galaxy" is too mammal-centric and Milky Way-centric because it involves a reference to milk.

Is there any other way to call a large unit of stars like this?


Shulamit is from a ____ called NGC 7840.

The sun, Betelgeuse and UY Scuti are all located in Milky Way _____.

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    Very few modern readers will know or care that the root "gala" is from the Greek and PIE for "milk.". If you must, though, just use star system or star cluster.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:36
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    @Cascabel I think it’s a poorly-explained belief, rather than a mistaken one. The word galaxy itself is etymologically an adjective meaning ‘milky’ (derived from Greek γάλα gala ‘milk’), so in the sense that any word involves a reference to its etymology and origin, galaxy does reference milk. The trouble is that if you need to scour out all etymological references to things that don’t fit your fictitious world, your options will be very limited. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 20:46
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    Galaxy is a brand of chocolate made by the Mars company. It's very milky, almost disgustingly so in my opinion. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 21:19
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    Yeah, @JanusBahsJacquet You are absolutely correct...I have to admit that I dismissed it outa hand, something which I need to do better at. The "mammal-centric" thing threw me off. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 21:27
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    If you don't like galaxy surely you wouldn't want to say "...located in the Milky Way _________"
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


You could always coin your own word or repurpose an existing one. Readers will catch on.

X is a star in myriad 7840.


One expression used is "star system":

Or you could just use "galaxy". The question seems to fall prey to the etymological fallacy. It's really the same as knowing something by heart: you don't actually believe that the heart stores knowledge, right?

A lot of etymology comes from stuff that is obscure to us in the modern day, but it's not something that people get caught up on.

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