Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
Old English, from Latin Venus (plural veneres), in ancient Roman mythology, the goddess of beauty and love, especially sensual love, from venus "love, sexual desire, loveliness, beauty, charm," from PIE root *wen- "to strive after, wish, desire, be satisfied" (cf. Sanskrit vanas- "desire," vanati "desires, loves, wins;" Avestan vanaiti "he wishes, is victorious;" Old English wynn "joy," wunian "to dwell," wenian "to accustom, train, wean," wyscan "to wish"). Applied by the Romans to Greek Aphrodite, Egyptian Hathor, etc. Meaning "second planet from the sun" is attested from late 13c. (Old English had morgensteorra and æfensteorra).
The venus fly-trap (Dionæa muscipula) was discovered 1760 by Gov. Arthur Dobbs in North Carolina and description sent to Collinson in England. The Algonquian name for the plant, titipiwitshile, yielded regional American English tippity wichity.
The second planet from the Sun and the fourth smallest, with a diameter about 400 miles less than that of Earth. Venus is a terrestrial or inner planet and at inferior conjunction comes nearer to Earth than any other planet; depending on its phase, it is also the brightest object in the night sky aside from Earth's moon. Because Venus is an inferior planet (located between Earth and the Sun), it is only visible relatively near the horizon in the first few hours before sunrise or after sunset. It has a dense atmosphere consisting primarily of carbon dioxide, which, together with its proximity to the Sun, creates an intense greenhouse effect, making it the hottest planet in the solar system with an average surface temperature of 453°C (847°F). Venus is completely shrouded by a thick layer of clouds made up mainly of droplets of sulfuric acid with other clouds of vaporous and particulate sulfur dioxide below it. Radar mapping of the Venutian surface shows rolling hills, plains, and numerous volcanoes as well as large impact craters and extensive lava flows. See Table at solar system.
In astronomy, the second major planet from the sun, named for the Roman goddess of love. The surface of Venus is very hot and covered with clouds. Spacecraft from the former Soviet Union landed on Venus and survived long enough to send back photographs and measurements. (See solar system; see under “Mythology and Folklore.”)
Note: Venus is seen from the Earth as a bright morning or evening star — occasionally bright enough to cast a shadow.