Using Google and other online dictionaries I came up with 'Terrae Futurum'. Is this the best way to present the idea of how the Earth could look in the distant (billion years) future?


First of all, Google Translate is horrible with Latin and is not to be trusted. It has relevant components to it, but the details go awry. If you want a reliable online Latin dictionary, check this list of ours.

The word terra is more like "land", "country", or something of that kind. For the whole planet the more suitable word is tellus1. This is a feminine word, so the adjective2 futurus should go into the singular feminine form futura.

It is possible to use terra as well, but I find tellus more appropriate. There seem to be regional differences in preference, but both are valid options. They both take the same form of the adjective.

The future Earth is thus tellus futura or terra futura.

1 The plural is tellures instead of telli if you need it; don't be fooled by its ending in -us.

2 It's really a participle, but it can be treated as an adjective for many practical purposes.

  • 1
    It should be noted that Terra is more easily recognisable as a scientific name of the planet, and its use with this connotation is attested even classically. For instance, in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria we find: Quaeritur per coniecturam... : ‘an sol maior quam terra...' ("We use conjecture... is the Sun bigger than the Earth..."). Aug 29 '20 at 14:52
  • @VincenzoOliva That's a surprise to me. Around here people would recognize tellus as the scientific name for our planet, not terra. There are regional differences, but it's true that both options work. My preference is tellus.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 29 '20 at 15:08
  • Fair enough! :) Aug 29 '20 at 15:14
  • In the US, "Terra" is the only widely recognized scientifical name for the planet. I didn't know that "Tellus" was recognized (by non-classicists) anywhere.
    – Nickimite
    Aug 29 '20 at 19:21
  • @Nickimite In Finland I had learned Tellus as a scientific name of our planet as a kid, perhaps a decade before I ever encountered the word terra. I'll edit the answer a bit to give both options.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Aug 29 '20 at 19:40

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