Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A celestial body that orbits the sun and is large enough to assume a nearly round shape, but that does not clear the neighborhood around its orbit and is not a satellite of a planet. See Usage Note at planet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any astronomical body which has achieved hydrostatic equilibrium (which is the shape a body of water would take, as opposed to a small Solar System body), orbits the Sun (as opposed to a moon), and has not "cleared its neighbourhood" of competing bodies (as opposed to a planet).

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  • The five objects that have so far been declared dwarf planets are Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake.

    The expression is grammatically unusual in that it is not a hyponym of its head: a dwarf planet is not a kind of planet. Most such expressions in English have to do with unreality of some kind (a fake Rembrandt is not a Rembrandt, a pretend dinosaur is not a dinosaur, an attempted coup is not a coup), or are lexically quirky (a Welsh rabbit is not a rabbit), or are named for rough biological resemblance (a sea anemone is not an anemone).

    March 27, 2009