late Old English planete, from Old French planete (Modern French planète), from Late Latin planeta, from Greek planetes, from (asteres) planetai "wandering (stars)," from planasthai "to wander," a word of uncertain etymology.
Perhaps from a nasalized form of PIE root *pele-(2) "flat; to spread," on the notion of "spread out," "but the semantics are highly problematic," according to Beekes, who notes the similarity of meaning to Greek plazein "to make devious, repel, dissuade from the right path, bewilder," but adds, "it is hard to think of a formal connection."
So called because they have apparent motion, unlike the "fixed" stars. Originally including also the moon and sun; modern scientific sense of "world that orbits a star" is from 1630s. An enlarged form of Greek planes, planetos "who wanders around, wanderer," also "wandering star, planet," in medicine "unstable temperature."
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