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[as-truh-nawt, -not] /ˈæs trəˌnɔt, -ˌnɒt/
a person engaged in or trained for spaceflight.
1925-30; astro- + (aero)naut, probably via French astronaute; see astronautical
Can be confused
astronaut, cosmonaut. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for astronauts
  • Its primary goal was to test parachutes and other equipment for pilots and astronauts.
  • astronauts must bring what they need, including oxygen, because they cannot rely on their environment to provide it.
  • Smashed bits of space equipment orbit along with items dropped by astronauts, including tools and the odd glove.
  • Three astronauts were on board, with their mission expected to last about three days.
  • Even if astronauts return to the moon, though, the means of getting them there must still be decided.
  • Sending astronauts into the solar system would require a beefier rocket than any currently operating.
  • Their whole existence is centered on the training of astronauts and the operation of manned missions.
  • astronauts who reach the facility aboard one of these missions typically live and work in orbit for about six months.
  • It's probably no surprise that today's astronauts are discouraged from drinking on the job.
  • Of course, the famous pair were hardly the first animal astronauts.
British Dictionary definitions for astronauts


a person trained for travelling in space See also cosmonaut
Word Origin
C20: from astro- + -naut from Greek nautēs sailor, on the model of aeronaut
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
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Word Origin and History for astronauts



coined 1929 in science fiction, popularized from 1961 by U.S. space program, from astro- + nautes "sailor" (see naval). French astronautique (adj.) had been coined 1927 by "J.H. Rosny," pen name of Belgian-born science fiction writer Joseph Henri Honoré Boex (1856-1940) on model of aéronautique, and Astronaut was used in 1880 as the name of a fictional spaceship by English writer Percy Greg (1836-1889) in "Across the Zodiac."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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astronauts in Culture

astronaut definition

A crew member of a space mission launched by the United States. (See Apollo program and Mercury program.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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