sublunary (adj.)

1590s, "situated under the moon," hence "earthly, mundane" (old cosmology), from Modern Latin sublunaris, from sub "under, beneath" (see sub-) + lunaris (see lunar). It owes its special sense to the old cosmology of heavenly spheres and ultimately to Aristotle:

The treatise On the Heavens sets forth a pleasant and simple theory. Things below the moon are subject to generation and decay; from the moon upwards, everything is ungenerated and indestructible. [Bertrand Russell, "A History of Western Philosophy"]

updated on May 18, 2022