comet

[kom-it]
noun Astronomy.
a celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit, consisting of a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun.

Origin:
1150–1200; Middle English comete < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin comētēs, comēta < Greek komḗtēs wearing long hair, equivalent to komē-, variant stem of komân to let one's hair grow (derivative of kómē hair) + -tēs agent suffix

cometary [kom-i-ter-ee] , cometic [kuh-met-ik] , cometical, adjective
cometlike, adjective
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World English Dictionary
comet (ˈkɒmɪt)
 
n
a celestial body that travels around the sun, usually in a highly elliptical orbit: thought to consist of a solid frozen nucleus part of which vaporizes on approaching the sun to form a gaseous luminous coma and a long luminous tail
 
[C13: from Old French comète, from Latin comēta, from Greek komētēs long-haired, from komē hair]
 
'cometary
 
adj
 
cometic
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

comet
1154, from O.Fr. comete, from L. cometa, from Gk. (aster) kometes, lit. "long-haired (star)," from kome "hair of the head" (koman "let the hair grow long"), so called from resemblance of the comet's tail to streaming hair.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
comet  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (kŏm'ĭt)  Pronunciation Key 
A celestial object that orbits the Sun along an elongated path. A comet that is not near the Sun consists only of a nucleus—a solid core of frozen water, frozen gases, and dust. When a comet comes close to the Sun, its nucleus heats up and releases a gaseous coma that surrounds the nucleus. A comet forms a tail when solar heat or wind forces dust or gas off its coma, with the tail always streaming away from the Sun. ◇ Short-period comets have orbital periods of less than 200 years and come from the region known as the Kuiper belt. Long-period comets have periods greater than 200 years and come from the Oort cloud. See more at Kuiper belt, Oort cloud. See Note at solar system.

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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

comet definition


An object that enters the inner solar system, typically in a very elongated orbit around the sun. Material is boiled off from the comet by the heat of the sun, so that a characteristic tail is formed. The path of a comet can be in the form of an ellipse or a hyperbola. If it follows a hyperbolic path, it enters the solar system once and then leaves forever. If its path is an ellipse, it stays in orbit around the sun.

Note: Comets were once believed to be omens, and their appearances in the sky were greatly feared or welcomed.
Note: The most famous comet, Comet Halley (or Halley's comet), passes close to the Earth roughly every seventy-six years, most recently in 1986.
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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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
COMET
Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training (National Center for Atmospheric Research)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
In the nineteenth century, filibusters were rarer than visible comets.
As for comets, conventional wisdom held that they also bombarded the planets
  during the early eons.
Marigolds and petunias were recast as blazing comets or flying saucers in outer
  space.
Asteroids, moons and comets have all been added to the stamp album.
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