• synonyms

Milky Way

noun Astronomy.
  1. the spiral galaxy containing our solar system. With the naked eye it is observed as a faint luminous band stretching across the heavens, composed of approximately a trillion stars, most of which are too distant to be seen individually.
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Origin of Milky Way

1350–1400; Middle English, translation of Latin via lactea; cf. galaxy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for milky way

Historical Examples

  • Nearby is the farm where he got milk, the route to which he called the "milky-way."

    America, Volume IV (of 6)

    Joel Cook

  • I am much mistaken if the first is not 'Milky-way,' and the second, 'Plato.'

  • Do not fail to notice the remarkable subdivisions of the Milky-Way in this neighborhood.

    Astronomy with an Opera-glass

    Garrett Putman Serviss

  • The presence of the Milky-Way is manifest by the sprinkling of stars all about this region.

    Astronomy with an Opera-glass

    Garrett Putman Serviss

  • But her slippers glimmered with the light of the Milky-way, for they were covered with seed-pearls and opals in one mass.

British Dictionary definitions for milky way

Milky Way

noun the Milky Way
  1. the diffuse band of light stretching across the night sky that consists of millions of faint stars, nebulae, etc, within our Galaxy
  2. another name for the Galaxy
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Word Origin

C14: translation of Latin via lactea
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for milky way


late 14c., loan-translation of Latin via lactea. See also galaxy.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

milky way in Science

Milky Way

  1. The spiral galaxy that contains our solar system. Made up of an estimated two hundred billion stars or more, it is seen from Earth as an irregular band of hazy light across the night sky. The solar system is located in one of the revolving spiral arms, about 50 light-years north of the galactic plane and some 27,700 light-years from the galaxy's center, which lies in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. It takes approximately 250 million years for the solar system to orbit the galactic center, which is believed to contain a massive black hole. The Milky Way measures about 100,000 light-years in diameter and is the second largest galaxy, after the Andromeda Galaxy, in the cluster known as the Local Group. See also spiral galaxy.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

milky way in Culture

Milky Way

The galaxy to which our sun belongs.

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The Milky Way is also the swath of light in the night sky produced by the other stars in the galaxy.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.