List of names for the Milky Way

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This list of names for the Milky Way are in various languages. Some of them derive from myths, which can be found at Milky Way (mythology).

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[edit]

  • Afrikaans: Melkweg "Milky Way" translated from Latin
  • Apulian: Strascine de Sande Jàchepe " St. James' trail "
  • Arabic: درب التبانة(Darb At-Tabbāna) "Hay Merchants Way"
  • Arabic: درب اللبانة(Darb Al-Labbāna)' "Milky Way"
  • Armenian: Յարդ զողի Ճանապարհ hard goghi chanaparh "Straw Thief's Way", from a myth.[1]
  • Basque: Esne bidea, translated from Latin
  • Belarusian: Млечны Шлях "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • Belarusian: Птушыная дарога "Way of Birds"
  • Bengali: ছায়াপথ Chāy.āpath "The path in the shadow"
  • Bengali: আকাশগঙ্গা Ākāśagaŋgā "The Ganges River of Heaven"] of Heaven"
  • 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 Road to Santiago"
  • Chechen: Ça Taxina Taça "the route of scattered straw"
  • Cherokee: ᎩᎵ ᎤᎵᏒᏍᏓᏅᏱ, translit. Gili Ulisəsdanəyi, lit. 'The Way the Dog Ran Away', from a myth
  • Chinese: 銀河 "Silver River"
  • Chuvash: Хуркайӑк ҫулӗ "Way of the Gray goose"
  • Cornish: Hyns Sen Jamys "Saint James Way"[2]
  • 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[3]
  • Erzya: Каргонь ки "Way of the Crane"
  • 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"
  • Galician: Via Láctea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • Galician: Camiño de Santiago, "The Road to Santiago"
  • Georgian: ირმის ნახტომი, irmis naxtomi "The Deer Jump"
  • German: Milchstraße "Milky Way"
  • Gujarati: આકાશગંગા Ākāśagaṃgā "Ganga River of Heaven", from a Hindu mythology[1].
  • Greek: Γαλαξίας κύκλος Galaxias Kyklos "Milky Circle", from a myth
  • Hebrew: שביל החלב‎ "The Milky Way"
  • Hindi: आकाशगंगा "Ganga River of Heaven", from a Hindu mythology[1]
  • Hungarian: Hadak Útja "The Road of the Warriors", from a myth (historical)
  • Hungarian: Tejút "Milky Way"
  • 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 "Powerful Bima", a character in Sanskrit epic Mahabharata
  • Italian: Via Lattea "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • Japanese: 天の川 Ama no Gawa "River of Heaven"
  • Kannada: ಆಕಾಶಗಂಗಾ "Aakaasha Ganga"* Korean: 은하수 eunhasu "Silver River", from Chinese 銀河水
  • Korean: 미리내 (mirinae, Dragon's River) in pure Korean.
  • Korean: Uri Eunha "Our Galaxy"
  • Latin: Via Lactea "Milky Way", translated from Greek
  • Latvian: Putnu Ceļš, The Birds' Path
  • Lithuanian: Paukščių Takas, The Birds' Path
  • Malay: Bima Sakti "Magical Bima", a character in Sanskrit epic Mahabharata
  • Malayalam: ആകാശഗംഗ "Ganga River of Heaven", from a Hindu mythology /ക്ഷീരപഥം meaning "Way of Milk" / പാലാഴി meaning "Sea of Milk".
  • Macedonian: Млечен Пат "Milky Way"
  • 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: راه شیری‎ (rah-e shiri)
  • Kurdish: kadiz‎ (straw thief)
  • 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") [4]
  • Russian: Млечный путь "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • Sanskrit: मंदाकिनी "Maṃdākinī", "calm or unhurried", in Vedic
  • Sanskrit: अर्यम्णः पन्थाः "Aryamṇáḥ Pánthāḥ", "Aryaman's Path"
  • Scottish Gaelic: Slighe Chlann Uisnich "the path of the children of Uisneach" from Celtic mythology
  • Serbian: Mlečni put "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • Serbian: Млечни пут "Milky Way", translated from Latin
  • 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
  • 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"
  • Vietnamese: Ngân Hà "Silver River", translated from Chinese
  • Welsh: Llwybr Llaethog "Milky Way", translated from the Latin
  • Welsh: Caer Wydion "The Fort of Gwydion"

Common names[edit]

Birds' Path[edit]

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[5] 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.

Milky Way[edit]

Many European languages have borrowed, directly or indirectly, the Greek name for the Milky Way, including English and Latin.

Road to Santiago[edit]

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.[3] Curiously, La Voje Ladee "The Milky Way" was also used to refer to the pilgrimage road.[6]

Silver River[edit]

The Chinese name "Silver River" (銀河) is used throughout East Asia, including Korea and Vietnam. In Japan and Korea, "Silver River" (銀河) means galaxies in general.

River of Heaven[edit]

The Japanese name for the Milky Way is the "River of Heaven" (天の川), as well as an alternative name in Chinese (Chinese: 天河; pinyin: Tiān hé).

Straw Way[edit]

In a large area from Central Asia to Africa, the name for the Milky Way is related to the word for straw. It has been suggested that the term was spread by Arabs who in turn borrowed it from Armenia.[7]

Walsingham Way[edit]

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.[8]

Winter Street[edit]

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.


  1. ^ a b c Toivanen, Sampsa; Sipilä, Heikki. "What is the Milky Way called in different languages?". Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2007-01-06.
  2. ^ "Cornish Dictionary". Cornish Language Partnership. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b Macleod, Fiona (1911). Where the forest murmurs. New York: Duffield & Company. Chapter 21: Milky Way. Archived from the original on 17 February 2007.
  4. ^ "lactee". Dicţionarul explicativ al limbii române (in Romanian). Academia Română, Institutul de Lingvistică "Iorgu Iordan", Editura Univers Enciclopedic. 1988.
  5. ^ ^ Sauer, EGF (July 1971). "Celestial Rotation and Stellar Orientation in Migratory Warblers". Science 30: 459–461.
  6. ^ "The Pilgrim's Way: El Camino de Santiago". Archived from the original on 17 December 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  7. ^ Harutyunyan, Hayk (2003-08-29). "The Armenian name of the Milky Way". ArAS News. Armenian Astronomical Society (ArAS). 6. Archived from the original on 29 April 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
  8. ^ Bogle, Joanna. "A Pilgrimage to Walsingham, 'England's Nazareth'". National Catholic Register. EWTN. Retrieved 2013-11-13.