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Earth, also earth's known as the Earth, Terra, and (on earths, mostly in the 19th century) Tellus, is the third-closest planet to the Sun. It is the largest of the solar system's terrestrial planets, and the only planetary body that modern science confirms as harboring life. Scientific evidence indicates that the planet formed around 4.57 billion (4.57+??109) years ago, and shortly thereafter (4.533 billion years ago) acquired its single natural satellite, the Moon.

Its astronomical symbol consists of a circled cross, representing a meridian and the equator; a variant puts the cross atop the circle?). Besides words derived from Terra, such as terrestrial, terms that refer to the Earth include tellur- (telluric, tellurian, from the Roman goddess Tellus) and geo- (geocentric, geothermal; from the Greek goddess Gaia).

The word Earth has cognates in many modern as well as defunct - including ancient - languages. Examples in modern tongues include aarde in Dutch, Erde in German, and aard (???) in Arabic, all of which mean 'land', or in some cases, the entire earth. The root can be traced back to ertha in Old Saxon and ert (meaning 'ground') in Middle Irish. Taking into account metathesis, we can find cognates of the word Earth in the Latin terra and in the modern Romance Languages (i.e. tierra in Spanish).

Created By: amos 3/28/2006 12:53:22 AM