Word Wednesday – Not so extra-terrestrial.

I spent a lot of time this summer with my eyes turned towards the skies. Unlike last summer where it seemed to rain every time I went up to the cottage, and a lot of the time at home (which put a serious damper on the amount of time I could spend stargazing), this summer had less evening / nighttime rain. Mosquitoes aside, there wasn’t anything keeping me from going out on the dock and just staring up at the night sky. While I wouldn’t consider myself an astronomer, I do have a healthy appreciation of the heavens and love learning more about space (and not just from Doctor Who, although that’s pretty awesome too). Speaking of The Doctor, this week’s Word Wednesday post would not apply to anyone from the planet of Gallifrey.

The word that came to mind (mostly because I heard it on an episode of Antiques Roadshow referring to the astronomical tool, when I was trying to figure out what word I should use for this week’s post, is tellurian. The word tellurian has two meanings, one of which is an old astronomical device that I know of as a tellurion but can also be spelled tellurian (at least according to both the Antiques Roadshow and Wikipedia). I’m keeping with the more traditional meaning: a noun meaning “an inhabitant of the earth” (now does the Doctor Who reference make more sense? Probably not, unless you’re a Whovian like me).


Once again, unsurprisingly, this word comes to English via Latin. Though unlike some recent words it is a pretty direct link. The Latin root word is tellus which means “earth”. Interestingly I can’t come up with any other words with the same root, which is unusual for a Latin root. (That’s not to say that there aren’t. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments!) To use it in a sentence: While The Doctor is an alien, his companions have traditionally been tellurian in their origins. Though once they are in the TARDIS are they still able to be described as tellurian? They’re not really inhabiting the earth when they’re off exploring time and space except for all the times they explore earth in another time period. Maybe semi-tellurian should be a thing? While I go ponder that, I’ll leave you with the traditional definition and pronunciation guide.along with a picture of the Earth, taken from space (but sadly, not from the TARDIS). Happy stargazing fellow tellurians.


Tellurian (te-loo r-ee-uh n) noun

An inhabitant of the earth.


Of or characteristic of the earth or its inhabitants, terrestrial. 


By koalateagirl

Jenn Annis is a writer, editor, historian, special needs advocate, and tireless defender of the Oxford comma. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

1 comment

  1. I like it! 😀

    I would expound, but I am beat. *yawns*

    I wonder what it’s like to sleep in a Tardis. Mine has cookies – or, well, the potential of cookies – so I am sure it’d be amazing, but what about the real one? Can you even sleep in there? Does the Dr. need sleep?

    Okay, this Tellurian needs to hit the hay. G’night!

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