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See also: uranian



A 2nd- to 3rd-century statue of Aphrodite Urania,[n 1] depicted standing on a tortoise which was a symbol of domestic modesty and chastity. Aphrodite Urania signified the heavenly aspect of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and gave rise to the word Uranian meaning “of Aphrodite Urania [...]: heavenly, spiritual, as contrasted with the earthly aspect of Aphrodite Pandemos(sense 3), as well as “homosexual(sense 2).

Etymology 1[edit]

From Latin Ūrania (muse of astronomy in Greek mythology) +‎ -an (suffix forming agent nouns). Ūrania is derived from Ancient Greek Οὐρᾰνῐ́ᾱ (Ouraníā, muse of astronomy), from οὐράνιος (ouránios, of or relating to the sky, celestial, heavenly) (from οὐρανός (ouranós, the sky; heaven, home of the gods; the universe), probably ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₁wers- (rain)) + -ιος (-ios, suffix forming adjectives meaning ‘pertaining to’).[1][2]

The alternative form Ouranian is derived from Ancient Greek οὐράνιος (ouránios).

Adjective sense 2 (“homosexual”) and the noun sense (“a homosexual”) refer to Plato’s work Symposium (c. 385–370 B.C.E.), where the goddess Aphrodite, in her heavenly aspect Aphrodite Urania (see adjective sense 3) is described as inspiring a noble form of affection between older and younger men.[1] Compare German Urning (a homosexual, Uranian), Urnigtum (homosexuality), also referring to Aphrodite Urania, coined by the German writer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–1895) in 1864. By the 1900s, the use of the word in this sense had largely been supplanted by homosexual (see further at that entry).


Uranian (comparative more Uranian, superlative most Uranian)

  1. (comparable, literary, poetic) Celestial, heavenly; uranic.
    Antonyms: chthonian, chthonic (pertaining to the underworld), earthbound, earthly, tellurian, telluric, terrestrial (pertaining to the earth)
    • 1853, Edward Bulwer[-]Lytton, “The Ideal World”, in The Poetical and Dramatic Works of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart., volume III, London: Chapman and Hall, [], OCLC 317327456, stanza IV, page 317:
      Hence is that secret pardon we bestow / In the true instinct of the grateful heart, / Upon the Sons of Song. The good they do / In the clear world of their Uranian art / Endures for ever; while the evil done / In the poor drama of the mortal scene, / Is but a passing cloud before the sun; [...]
    • 1859, Owen Meredith [pseudonym; Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton], “Epilogue”, in The Wanderer, London: Chapman & Hall, [], OCLC 5254131, part III, stanza I, page 424:
      Hail thou! sole Muse that, in an age of toil, / Of all the old Uranian sisterhood, / Art left to light us o'er the furrowed soil, / Of this laborious star!
    • 1903, Jane Ellen Harrison, “The Anthesteria. The Ritual of Ghosts and Spirits.”, in Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: At the University Press, OCLC 776805842, page 67:
      At first sight the winds would appear to be if anything Ouranian powers of the upper air, yet it seems that sacrifices to the winds were buried, not burnt.
    • 1927, Robert Briffault, “The Great Mothers”, in The Mothers: A Study of the Origins of Sentiments and Institutions, volume III, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, OCLC 530511, pages 146–147:
      [T]hose deities which are called ‘chthonic’ or earthly are, as a matter of fact, not in any sense deities of the earth. They are, in one of their aspects associated with the ‘underworld,’ but that underworld is but a segment of their cycle; they are deities of the underworld not because they appertain to the earth or are in any sense a personification of it, but because they are, on the contrary, heavenly bodies which, in the course of their cycle, pass under the earth. They are therefore just as much ‘uranian’ as are the Olympians.
    • 1991, Mircea Eliade, “The ‘God who Binds’ and the Symbolism of Knots”, in Philip Mairet, transl., Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, Mythos paperback edition, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, pages 96–97:
      If he [the Hindu god Varuna] cannot be classed exclusively among the "gods of the sky" he nevertheless has qualities proper to the ouranian divinities. He is visva-darsata, "everywhere visible", he "separated the two worlds", the wind is his breath; [...]
    • 2002, P. Adams Sitney, “The End of the 20th Century”, in Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1943–2000, 3rd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 417:
      Conversely, Kenneth Anger's only widely released film since 1972, Lucifer Rising (1980), uses a megalithic temple (not Stonehenge) and a number of ancient Egyptian sites in a Crowleyan ritual hymn to chthonian and ouranian deities of power and light.
  2. (comparable, literary, archaic) Homosexual; (specifically) relating to a man's erotic love for adolescent boys; pederastic; also, of poetry: conveying appreciation for young men.
    Synonyms: uranistic (obsolete); see also Thesaurus:homosexual
    • 1898 February 18?, Oscar Wilde, “Letter to Robert Ross”, in Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis, editors, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt and Company, published 2000, →ISBN, page 1019:
      To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble – more noble than other forms.
    • 1930, Arthur Lyon Raile [pseudonym; Edward Perry Warren], “The Uranian Idea”, in A Defence of Uranian Love, part the second (The Uranian Eros), [London]: Privately printed, OCLC 156094194, pages 19–20:
      His [Plato's] Philosophical Eros is not the Uranian Eros which possessed the nation, and the Uranian doctrine is not primarily either philosophical or paederastic. It is a value attached to the masculine which included philosophy as masculine and paederasty when not anti-masculine, but was itself the idea and form of virtue.
    • 1994, Linda [C.] Dowling, “The Higher Sodomy”, in Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, →ISBN, page 134:
      Before these ideals would once again become available to "homosexuality" as a positive social identity, however, the Uranian modality of male love would be rejected by the avant-garde itself as an outworn fashion.
    • 2003, Chuck Stewart, “Biographical Sketches”, in Gay and Lesbian Issues: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues), Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 138:
      [Edward] Carpenter was disappointed by these meetings with [Walt] Whitman but began to integrate a positive homosexual view into his socialist writings. Carpenter saw the Uranian (homosexual) spirit to be more enlightened than that of the common man and believed that Uranians were the new prophets of the coming social revolution.
    • 2006, Stephanie Newell, “‘Uranian’ Love in West Africa”, in The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku (New African Histories), Athens, Oh.: Ohio University Press, →ISBN, page 86:
      Through Veiled Eyes [by John Moray Stuart-Young, published in 1908] was produced by a specialist Uranian publisher for circulation to a specialist Uranian readership, and it required the audience to identify with an adult narrator who spends the bulk of one summer "grooming" an English boy for physical intimacy. This is the sexual scenario most likely to inspire public violence in contemporary Britain, [...] Set in the context of Uranian art, however, it is possible to regard this as a desire fated to be celibate, if only by the status of the angelic love object in the real world as a "real boy, grubby, ink-stained, insolent, uncomprehending of Uranian passion and rebuffing its smallest manifestations." Such a forgiving perspective is one of the few options available to literary critics wishing to avoid the discomfort of drawing biographical conclusions from the material produced by Uranian authors such as Stuart-Young.
  3. (not comparable, Greek mythology, Roman mythology) Of Aphrodite Urania, the heavenly aspect of the Greek goddess of beauty and love Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus, as contrasted with the earthly aspect known as Aphrodite Pandemos: heavenly, spiritual.
    Antonyms: pandemian, Pandemic
    • a. 1822, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Banquet. Translated from Plato.”, in Mrs. Shelley [i.e., Mary Shelley], editor, Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments, [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Philadelphia, Pa.: Lea and Blanchard, published 1840, OCLC 1045107129, page 86:
      For assuredly are there two Venuses; one, the eldest, the daughter of Uranus, born without a mother, whom we call the Uranian; the other younger, the daughter of Jupiter and Dione, whom we call the Pandemian;—of necessity must there also be two Loves, the Uranian and Pandemian companions of these goddesses. [...] [T]he attendant on the other, the Uranian, whose nature is entirely masculine, is the Love who inspires us with affection, and exempts us from all wantonness and libertinism.
    • 2010, Steven Berg, “Pausanias: Noble Lies and the Fulfillment of Greekness”, in Eros and the Intoxications of Enlightenment: On Plato’s Symposium (SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy), Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, →ISBN, part 1 (Athens and Enlightenment), page 27:
      That this is indeed the general tendency of his [Pausanias of Athens'] speech is made clear by two remarks that follow immediately upon his differentiating the Pandemian from the Uranian gods. [...] But what is true for Aphrodite seems to be a contradiction in terms: she is both one and two and all gods must be praised—both Uranian and Pandemian—and yet only the Uranian ought to be praised [...].
  4. (not comparable, Greek mythology, dated) Relating to Urania, the Muse of astronomy.
    • 1600, Cyril Tourneur, The Transformed Metamorphosis, [London]: Printed by Valentine Sims, [], OCLC 1033539155; republished in John Churton Collins, editor, The Plays and Poems of Cyril Tourneur: [] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Chatto and Windus, [], 1878, OCLC 23159569, page 213:
      Graced by nurses (art's nurse highly grac'd him) / Who fed him with pure marrow of the Muses; / And when he list, with moisture to refresh him, / He drunke cleare Helicon: cleare from abuses, / He bent his mind to pure Vranian vses, / Vranianie him did to heau'n vpreare: / And made to man, him demi-god appeare.
    • 2007, Vivek Iyer, chapter 8, in Samlee’s Daughter: A Novel, Great Britain: Polyglot Publications, →ISBN, section I:
      Actually, this little girl-child should have been as happy as a lark. But, she wasn't. This is because her Bengali genes had her continually wish to be a Sarasvati, or Uranian Muse, to all the males who came within her ambit – incessantly inspiring them to great works of Art or Scientific discoveries.
  5. (not comparable, by extension, historical, rare) Of or pertaining to astronomy; astronomical.
    Synonym: uranical (archaic, rare)
    • 1761, “Astrophilus” [pseudonym], “An Account of Mr. Horrox’s Observations of the Transit of Venus over the Sun, in the Year 1639”, in Edmund Burke, editor, The Annual Register, or A View of the History, Politicks, and Literature, volume XV, London: Printed for R[obert] and J[ames] Dodsley, [], published 1762, OCLC 1779623, page 194, column 2:
      Mr. [William] Crabtree, whom Horrox [i.e., Jeremiah Horrocks] had, by letter, invited to this Uranian banquet, and who, in mathematical knowledge, was inferior to few, very readily complied with his friend's requeſt, and intended to obſerve the tranſit [of Venus] in the ſame manner with Horrox; but the ſky was very unfavourable to him, [...]
    • 2012, Jeremiah Horrocks, “What Others Observed or could have Observed of This Conjunction”, in Wilbur Applebaum, transl., Venus Seen on the Sun: The First Observation of a Transit of Venus [...] Translated with Introduction and Notes (History of Science and Medicine Library; 29), Leiden; Boston, Mass.: Brill Publishers, →ISBN, ISSN 1567-8393:
      When, as previously mentioned, I first learned of and thought about the favorable circumstance of this conjunction, I immediately wrote to my most esteemed associate in astronomy, W[illiam] Crabtree, a man who has few superiors in the mathematical sciences. I did not doubt that a few very attentive as observers, could be invited to such a Uranian banquet. And that hope was not disappointed.
Alternative forms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


Uranian (plural Uranians)

  1. (literary, archaic) A male homosexual; (specifically) a man engaged in an erotic relationship with an adolescent boy; a pederast.
    Synonyms: uranist (archaic), urning (obsolete); see also Thesaurus:male homosexual
    • [1908], Xavier Mayne [pseudonym; Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson], The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life, [Rome?]: Privately printed, OCLC 784190118, page 395:
      Doubtless music is pre-eminently the Uranian’s art. His emotional nature goes out to it and in it, as in no other.
    • 2003, Chuck Stewart, “Biographical Sketches”, in Gay and Lesbian Issues: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues), Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 138:
      [Edward] Carpenter saw the Uranian (homosexual) spirit to be more enlightened than that of the common man and believed that Uranians were the new prophets of the coming social revolution.
    • 2008, Thomas Bohache, “‘Queer’ as Social Location: Legitimate Category or Just Propaganda?”, in Christology From the Margins, London: SCM Press, →ISBN, part 3 (Queering Christ), page 194:
      Sodomite. Pederast. One who engages in the love that dare not speak its name. Uranian. Homosexual. Invert. Gay. Lesbian. Queer. These are just some of the words used during the Christian era to describe those whose affinity is toward one of the same sex.

Etymology 2[edit]

The planet Uranus photographed on 23 January 1986 by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s space probe Voyager 2. The word Uranian means an inhabitant of the planet, as well as “of or pertaining to the planet”.

From Uranus +‎ -ian.[3]


Uranian (not comparable)

  1. (astronomy) Of or pertaining to the planet Uranus. [from 1830s]
    • 1854, “The Planets: Are They Inhabited Worlds?”, in Dionysius Lardner, editor, The Museum of Science & Art, volume I, number 6, London: Walton and Maberly, [], OCLC 83638034, chapter III, paragraph 8, page 36:
      The Uranian year is equal to 84 terrestrial years, or 30687 terrestrial days; and the Uranian day, according to the probable estimate, being shorter than the terrestrial day in the ratio of 1 to 25261000, it follows that the Uranian year consists of 77336 Uranian days.
    • 1872, Richard A[nthony] Proctor, “Uranus and Neptune, the Arctic Planets”, in Other Worlds than Ours: The Plurality of Worlds Studied under the Light of Recent Scientific Researches, 3rd edition, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 16504256, page 170:
      The inclination of the plane of Uranus's equator to the path in which he travels being about 76°, it follows that the Uranian sun has a range of about 76° on either side of the celestial equator, during the long Uranian year.
    • 1949, John Gunther, “Foreword”, in Death Be Not Proud: A Memoir, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 491067405; Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial, 2007, →ISBN, page 9:
      He had not quite decided whether to be a physicist or a chemist; probably he would have chosen the trans-Uranian borderland between the two.
    • 1989, A. M. Fridman; N[ick] N. Gor′kavyi, “The Dynamics of Planetary Rings and the Prediction of New Uranian Satellites”, in I[saac] M[arkovich] Khalatnikov, editor, Physics Reviews (Soviet Scientific Reviews, Section A), volume 12, part 4, London: Harwood Academic Publishers, →ISBN, page 326:
      A decisive argument supporting this hypothesis was the discovery of a remarkable characteristic of the arrangement of the Uranian rings: near the outer edge of the rings there exist several orbits each of which is in resonance with a pair of rings simultaneously.
    • 2007 September 28, Inke de Pater; H. B. Hammel; Mark R. Showalter; Marcos A. van Dam, “The Dark Side of the Rings of Uranus”, in Science[1], volume 317, number 5846, Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, DOI:10.1126/science.1148103, ISSN 0036-8075, OCLC 1039268034, page 1888:
      Twice during a uranian year, the rings appear edge-on for a brief period, referred to as a ring plane crossing (RPX).
Alternative forms[edit]


Uranian (plural Uranians)

  1. (chiefly science fiction) An inhabitant of the planet Uranus. [from 1830s]
    • 1839, A Fantastical Excursion into the Planets, London: Saunders and Otley, [], OCLC 20591849, page 172:
      [T]he fury of a fiery hot-brained Marsian, may kindle immediate and incessant wrangling and feuds; whilst a quiet placid Uranian, in his turn, may yet at times be excessively annoyed, ay, worried and tormented, by the tardiness, listlessness and inactivity of his dronish companion.
    • 1872, Richard A[nthony] Proctor, “Uranus and Neptune, the Arctic Planets”, in Other Worlds than Ours: The Plurality of Worlds Studied under the Light of Recent Scientific Researches, 3rd edition, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 16504256, pages 171–172:
      And obviously, since the year of the Uranians lasts 84 of our years, the continuance of the sun above the horizon would last for many years. [...] And as with the summer day, so with the winter night, years elapse before either comes to an end. For upwards of 20 years, in a latitude corresponding to that of London, the Uranians—if there are any—never see the small Uranian sun.


  1. ^ From the collection of the Louvre in Paris, France.


Further reading[edit]