What would be a good Latin translation of a "star", a famous actor, musician or other such person? I am looking for a good translation for modern use, but of course an attested ancient choice of words would be great if available.

There are a couple of Latin words for a star, and of course using one of them is an option. I think that the neuter words astrum and sidus are not suitable for this use. Stella sounds much better. There is also the Greek loan aster. A Greek loan adds a posh tone — in my ears at least — which I find appropriate for this use. My own suggestion is to use aster for male stars and stella for females, to match the genders of the nouns. But are there other options that I should be aware of? What translation would you suggest and why?

  • I'm told Modern Greek uses a derivative of aster- but that might be calquing back from English.
    – Draconis
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 23:47
  • @Joonas llmavirta: Oxford offers, "celebrity" = "fama", "celebritas", both feminine nouns.
    – tony
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 9:29
  • @tony Perhaps those offers are for "celebrity" in the sense of "fame" rather than "famous person", although that meaning seems to have become rarer in English. Of course it could stand for the other one by metonymy, but it'd be good to know if there is a further discussion in addition to a mere translation.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 9:47
  • @Joonas llmavirta: I realise that "fama" isn't quite what you are looking for. In contemporary English, "star" & "celebrity" are used almost interchangeably. Newspapers talk of "the cult-of-celebrity" to describe adherents who hang on the every word of "stars". Lewis & Short offer exs. of uses of "fama" = "renown"--still skirting around the edges. I'm not sure that Latin has what you seek; but, I'm happy to be educated.
    – tony
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


Perhaps dīvus, dīva could be used, after modern Italian diva (which has been borrowed into English).

I think the potential for confusion with the ancient literal use meaning "god(ess)" (or as an epithet with a sense along the lines of "divine", "excellent") will be relatively small, in context, since when talking about someone from the modern era, it will rarely be necessary to express the concept of literal deification or divinity.

  • As far as I can imagine, the contexts for the two senses "godlike, divine" and "a star of entertainment" are exactly the same - that's why when someone suggested backforming divus as a masculine equivalent to diva for use in English, I thought it wouldn't work. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 10:48
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    E.g. compare the metaphorical use of "god" in contexts like "The shy boy from Dublin who became a god of rock" or "Kylie Minogue is a goddess of pop".
    – Asteroides
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 10:55
  • Of course we don't, just like we talk about metaphorical stardom without implying that people become astronomical objects. We constantly do talk about metaphorical deification, however; and I seriously doubt the educated ancients believed in literal deification either, or in any case I don't see the need to distinguish a 'literal metaphor' from a 'non-literal metaphor'. Both "divine" and "a star" are metaphors for excellence, fame and worship and thus are likely to appear in the exact same contexts with no possibility to distinguish them as far as I can see. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 12:15
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    @Unbrutal_Russian: I think I misunderstood what you were saying. I'll think more about it and try to add some specific usage examples to this post later to try to address it. Thank you!
    – Asteroides
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 15:17

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