The Meaning of Nova: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of nova? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word nova, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word nova mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, Dictionary, and Your Dictionary, the word nova (pronounced ˈnoʊ və) is a noun that refers to a new star that suddenly increases its light input, and then fades away into obscurity within months or years. The plural of nova is novas or one can use the plural novae. The word nova can also refer to a specific class of cured or smoked salmon, particularly one that has been cured in salt and sugar and smoked at a low temperature. Related words include novalike, an adjective, and supernova, another type of star. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today!

Many different languages also contain words that refer to the sudden brightening of a star, whether that is a white dwarf, variable star, or other star type. You may notice that many of these translations look and sound the same as the word nova. Since the word nova is of Latin origin and many other languages are also of Latin origin, this means that there will likely be many cognates for the word nova. Cognates are words that look, sound, and mean similar things across languages. THis list of translations for the word nova is provided by Word Sense

  • Spanish: nova‎ (fem.)
  • Portuguese: nova‎ (fem.)
  • Slovene: nóva‎ (fem.)
  • Romanian: novă‎ (fem.)
  • German: Nova‎ (fem.)
  • French: nova‎ (fem.)
  • Russian: но́вая звезда́‎ (fem.), (prof. slang) но́вая‎ (fem.), но́ва‎ (fem.)
  • Persian: نواختر‎ (nou-axtar)
  • Japanese: 新星‎ (しんせい, shinsei)
  • Finnish: nova‎
  • Mandarin: 新星‎ (xīnxīng)
  • Esperanto: novao‎
  • Italian: nova‎ (fem.)

There are also a few other words that one can use in place of the word nova. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have a similar meaning to another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying not to repeat yourself as well as if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word nova is provided by Thesaurus, and includes star, superstar, orb, supernova, and aster.

The word nova has also become a popular baby name for girls in recent years. According to The Bump, the name Nova was first used by American parents in the 19th century. It is very popular in Sweden and the Netherlands, and has been popular as a girl’s name since 2011 in the United States. In 2020, the name Nova was ranked the #133 most popular name for girls. While this is frequently featured on lists of baby girl names, it is less popular among boy names, likely due to the feminine sounding “a” sound at the end of the name. However, this can still be one of many unisex names. People use this name meaning the same definition as the brightly burning star, but it can also simply be used with the Latin meaning, “new.” This name is also popular as far as middle names go. While this was once on the list of unique baby names, its rise in popularity has taken away its quirkiness.

You may also know the word nova from the music bossa nova. In Portuguese, this means “new trend.” This style of music began in Brazil in the late 1950s, from a unification of samba and cool jazz, according to Britannica. The founders of the bossa nova style are Antonio Carlos Jobim and the guitarist João Gilberto. This was very characteristic of Brazilian culture and was associated with social protests in the 1960s. The word nova could also be used to refer to the province of Canada Nova Scotia, meaning New Scotland.

What is the origin of the word nova?

According to Etymonline, the word nova has been used since 1877 to refer to a star that suddenly increases in brightness but quickly fades. This word comes directly from the Latin nova, the feminine singular adjective of the Latin novus meaning new. This is often used with stella meaning star to describe a new star that has never been seen before. Novas were not distinguished from supernovas, or supernovae until the 1930s. 

How can the word nova be used in a sentence?

The word nova can be used in many different ways since it can either refer to the astronomy term describing a star, a girls’ name, a style of music, or a province in Canada. In this example, it will refer to a star:

Kathleen the astronomer was closely studying the nova that she just spotted through the telescope.

Next, it will be used as a girls’ name:

The new mother, Kathleen. decided to name her naughter Nova, because she wanted her to shine as bright as a star.

Third, it will be used to describe the style of music:

Kathleen loved bossa nova music, and would frequently dance to it in her dorm room when preparing for samba night.

Finally, it will be used to refer to the province in Canada:

Kathleen was from chilly Nova Scotia, and was not used to the nine months of summer she felt she got at the sunny California university. 

Overall, the word nova is usually used to refer to a type of star that quickly brightens but soon fades out, from the Latin nova meaning new. The word nova is also a popular girls name, as well as a style of Brazilian music, bossa nova. This word is Latin in origin.