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A look at the origins, meaning and usage of the place name "MARS". For word definitions see WordChecker below


Planet MarsMars is one of the planets of our solar system. It is the fourth planet from the Sun, at a distance of 230 million kilometres, and the second-smallest (diameter 6779 km) in the solar system. People often refer to Mars as the Red Planet because the iron oxide on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars can be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

Pronunciation: /mɑ:z/

Origins, meaning and usage of the name

Mars was one of the most important Roman gods. He was the Roman god of war and the Romans named the planet Mars after him — possibly due to its reddish colour, reminiscent of war and bloodshed. The month of March is also named after him and the terms martial and martial arts refer to warlike activities. The adjective from Mars is Martian (capitalized as derived from a proper noun), for example: NASA has taken some superb photos of the Martian landscape. The word Martian can also be a noun and refers to an (imaginary) inhabitant of Mars. The Martian is popular in classical science fiction. Martians featured, for example, in The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells in which they planned to destroy Earth. There have been many works of fiction that revolve around Mars and Martians, more than for any other planet except Earth.


Above: This computer-generated view by NASA depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and the morning light. The redness of its landscape, believed to have led to it being named after the Roman god of war, is very apparent.

Example sentences:

  • Scientists believe there may be water on Mars.‎
  • SpaceX founder Elon Musk is planning to get humans to Mars in six years.

“Mars, the Bringer of War” (above) is the first movement of “The Planets”, written by the English composer Gustav Holst between 1914 and 1916. Its loud, menacing tones are highly suggestive of war and conflict.

solar system (noun): our sun and the eight planets (and other bodies) that go around it
naked eye (noun): unassisted vision; the eye without help from a telescope
Roman (adjective, also noun): relating to the ancient civilization that was based on Rome, Italy some 2000 years ago
reminiscent (adjective): tending to remind you of something
martial (adjective): relating to fighting or war
menacing (adjective): threatening; suggesting danger