Before galaxies in the modern sense were discovered, in Europe "the Galaxy" was another name for the Milky Way.
List of names in various languages
- Afrikaans: Melkweg "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Albanian: Kashta e Kumtrit "Godfather's Straw"
- Apulian: Strascine de Sande Jàchepe "St. James' trail"
- Arabic: درب التبانة darb at-tabbāna "Haymakers' Way" (classical)
- Arabic: درب اللبانة darb al-labbāna "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Aramaic: נהר די נור "Fire Stream"/"River of Light", from the Bible
- Armenian: Հարդագողի ճանապարհ hardagoghi chanaparh "Straw Thief's Way", from a myth.
- Akkadian: ṣerret šamê "the snake of the skies"
- Basque: Esne bidea, translated from Latin
- Belarusian: Млечны Шлях "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Berber languages:
- Belarusian: Птушыная дарога "Way of the Birds"
- Bengali: ছায়াপথ Chāy.āpath "Shadow Path"/"Reflected Path"
- Bengali: আকাশগঙ্গা Ākāśagaŋgā "Ganges of the Aether (Upper Sky)", from a Milky Way
- Bosnian: Mliječni Put, "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Bulgarian: Млечен Път, "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Catalan: Via Làctia "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Catalan: Camí de Sant Jaume, "The camino (way) of St. James"
- Chechen: Ça Taxina Taça "the route of scattered straw"
- Cherokee: ᎩᎵ ᎤᎵᏒᏍᏓᏅᏱ, romanized: Gili Ulisəsdanəyi, lit. 'The Way the Dog Ran Away', from a myth
- Chinese: 銀河 (Yínhé) "Silver River", 星漢 (Xīnghàn) "Star River", 天河 (Tiānhé) "Heaven River", 絳河 (Jiànghé) "River with Southern Color"
- Chuvash: Хуркайӑк ҫулӗ "Way of the Gray goose"
- Cornish: Hyns Sen Jamys "Saint James Way"
- Croatian: Mliječna Staza "Milky Way", translated from Latin.
- Croatian: Kumova slama Godfather's straw (traditional.)
- Czech: Mléčná dráha "Milky Way", translated from Greek or Latin
- Danish: Mælkevejen "The Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Dutch: Melkweg "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- English: Milky Way, translated from Latin
- Erzya: Каргонь ки "Way of the Crane"
- Esperanto: Lakta Vojo "Milky Way", translated from Latin.
- Estonian: Linnutee "Way of Birds", from a myth
- Finnish: Linnunrata "Way of Birds", from a myth
- Faroese: Vetrarbreytin "The Winter Way"
- French: La Voie Lactée "The Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Galician: Via Láctea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Galician: Camiño de Santiago, "The Road to Santiago"
- Georgian: ირმის ნახტომი, irmis nakhtomi "The Deer's Leap"
- German: Milchstraße "Milky Way"
- Gujarati: આકાશગંગા Ākāśagaṃgā "Ganges of the Aether (Upper Sky)", from a Hindu myth
- Greek: Γαλακτικός κύκλος Galaktikos Kyklos "Milky Circle", from a myth
- Hawaiian: Hōkū-noho-aupuni "the ruling star"
- Hawaiian: Iʻa "fish"
- Hawaiian: Iʻa-lele-i-aka "fish jumping in shadows"
- Hawaiian: Kau
- Hawaiian: Lālani
- Hawaiian: Lele-aka
- Hawaiian: Leleiona "shark-sucker"
- Hebrew: נהר האש "Fire Stream"/"River of Light", from the Bible
- Hebrew: שביל החלב "The Milky Way"
- Hindi: आकाशगंगा Ākāśagaṃgā, from ancient history
- Hungarian: Hadak Útja "The Road of the Warriors", from a myth (historical)
- Hungarian: Tejút "Milky Way", Translated from Latin
- Icelandic: Vetrarbrautin "The Winter Way"
- Irish: Bealach na Bó Finne "The Fair Cow's Path"
- Irish: Claí Mór na Réaltaí "Great Fence of the Stars"
- Irish: Slabhbra Luigh "Lugh's Chain"
- Indonesian: Bima Sakti "Magic Bhima", a character from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata
- Italian: Via Lattea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Japanese: 天の川 Ama no Gawa "River of Heaven"
- Kannada: ಆಕಾಶಗಂಗಾ "Ganges of the Aether (Upper Sky)"
- Kashubian: Mlécznô Droga "The Milky Way"
- Kashubian: Ptôszô Droga "The Bird's Path"
- Korean: 은하수 eunhasu "Silver River", from Chinese 銀河水
- Korean: 미리내 (mirinae, Dragon's River) in pure Korean.
- Korean: 우리은하 uri eunha, "Our Galaxy"
- Kurdish: kadiz "Straw Thief"
- Latin: Via Lactea "Milky Way", translated from Greek
- Latvian: Piena Ceļš, "The Milky Way", or Putnu ceļš, "The Birds' Path"
- Lojban: barda tarci bo girzu, "large-star group"
- Lithuanian: Paukščių Takas, The Birds' Path
- Malay: Bima Sakti, a character from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata
- Malayalam: ആകാശഗംഗ "Ganges of the Aether (Upper Sky)", from a Hindu myth
- Malayalam: ക്ഷീരപഥം "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Malayalam: പാലാഴി "Sea of Milk" (alternative)
- Macedonian: Млечен Пат "Milky Way"
- Marathi: आकाशगंगा "Ganges of the Aether (Upper Sky)”, translated from "the river of heaven”
- Mongolian: Сүүн зам "Milky Way", translated from Greek
- Maltese: Triq Sant' Anna, "St Anne's way"
- Meadow Mari: Кайыккомбо корно, "Way of the Gray goose"
- Mingrelian: მეშხურეშ შარა meshkhuresh shara "The Shepherd's Road"
- Norwegian: Melkeveien "The Milky Way" (Bokmål, comes from Danish)
- Norwegian: Vinterbrauta "The Winter Way" (Nynorsk, related to Icelandic)
- Persian: كهكشان Kehkashan "Straw-drawing" (traditional)
- Persian: راه شیری Rah-e Shiri "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Polish: Droga Mleczna "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Portuguese: Via Láctea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Portuguese: Estrada de Santiago "The Road of Santiago"
- Romanian: Calea Lactee "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Romanian: Calea Robilor or Drumul Robilor ("The Road of the Slaves")
- Russian: Млечный путь "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Sanskrit: मंदाकिनी Maṃdākinī, "the calm or unhurried one (feminine)" in Vedic, personal name of Ākāśagaṃgā (see Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi)
- Sanskrit: अर्यम्णः पन्थाः Aryamṇáḥ Pánthāḥ, "Aryaman's Path"
- Sardinian: Sa bia de sa paza "the Way of Straw"
- Scottish Gaelic: Slighe Chlann Uisnich "the path of the children of Uisneach" from Celtic mythology
- Serbian: Kumova slama "Godfather's straw", from Serbian folk myth
- Serbian: Кумова слама "Godfather's straw", from Serbian folk myth
- Slovak: Mliečna dráha "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Slovene: Rimska cesta "The Roman Road", because pilgrims followed it when traveling to Rome
- Spanish: Via láctea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Spanish: Compostela "Field of Stars", originally from Latin
- Spanish: Camino de Santiago "The Road to Santiago"
- Swedish: Vintergatan "Winter Street", from an old myth
- Classical Syriac: ܐܘܼܪܚܵܐ ܕܓܹܢܵ̈ܒ݂ܹܐ "The Road of Thieves"
- Tamil: பால் வழி Pāl Vaļi "Milky Way", translated from Latin
- Telugu: పాల పుంత Pāla Puṃta
- Thai: ทางช้างเผือก "The way of the white elephant"
- Turkish: Samanyolu "Road of Straw"
- Ukrainian: Чумацький шлях "Chumaks' Road"
- Urdu: کہکشاں Kehkashaṉ, "Straw-drawing", derived from Persian.
- Vietnamese: Ngân Hà "Silver River", translated from Chinese
- Võro: Tsirgurada "Way of Birds", from a myth
- Welsh: Llwybr Llaethog "Milky Way", translated from the Latin
- Welsh: Caer Wydion "The Fort of Gwydion"
Aboriginal Australian languages
The Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains of South Australia called the Milky Way wodliparri in the Kaurna language, meaning "house river". The Gomeroi people between New South Wales and Queensland called the Milky Way Dhinawan, the giant Emu in the Sky that it stretches across the night sky. 
The name "Birds' Path" is used in several Uralic and Turkic languages and in the Baltic languages. Northern peoples observed that migratory birds follow the course of the galaxy while migrating at the Northern Hemisphere. The name "Birds' Path" (in Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Bashkir and Kazakh) has some variations in other languages, e.g. "Way of the grey (wild) goose" in Chuvash, Mari and Tatar and "Way of the Crane" in Erzya and Moksha.
Many European languages have borrowed, directly or indirectly, the Greek name for the Milky Way, including English and Latin.
Road to Santiago
The Milky Way was traditionally used as a guide by pilgrims traveling to the holy site at Compostela, hence the use of "The Road to Santiago" as a name for the Milky Way. Curiously, La Voje Ladee "The Milky Way" was also used to refer to the pilgrimage road.
River Ganga of the Sky
The Sanskrit name "River Ganga of the Sky" (आकाशगंगा Ākāśagaṃgā) is used in many Indian languages following a Hindu belief .
The Chinese name "Silver River" (銀河) is used throughout East Asia, including Korea and Vietnam. In Japan and Korea, "Silver River" 銀河 (Ginga) means galaxies in general.
River of Heaven
In West Asia, Central Asia and parts of the Balkans the name for the Milky Way is related to the word for straw. Today, Persians, Pakistanis, and Turks use it in addition to Arabs. It has been suggested that the term was spread by medieval Arabs who in turn borrowed it from Armenians.
In England the Milky Way was called the Walsingham Way in reference to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham which is in Norfolk, England. It was understood to be either a guide to the pilgrims who flocked there, or a representation of the pilgrims themselves.
Scandinavian peoples, such as Swedes, have called the galaxy Winter Street (Vintergatan) as the galaxy is most clearly visible during the winter at the northern hemisphere, especially at high latitudes where the glow of the Sun late at night can obscure it during the summer.
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