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we have stellar winds, stellar kinematics, and stellar explosion. We have also star wars, star citizen, and star ship. Wikipedia also says that:

A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars that orbit each other

Is there any difference between 'star' and 'stellar' then? Is there any reason why George Lucas didn't use "Stellar Wars" instead? Can they always be used interchangeably?

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Star is a noun. It can be used as a noun adjunct or form compound nouns. Stellar is an adjective it means "of the stars" or figuratively "having the quality of a star performer"

"Stellar Wars" wouldn't work at all. It would either mean "wars with stars fighting each other (?)" or "Very excellent and superior wars (?)" Neither makes much sense.

But "Star Wars" means the title of the film, and probably is intended to suggest "War among the stars". Compound nouns have meanings that are established by idiom and can't always be deduced from the meanings of the parts.

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  • Thanks James! So if 'stellar' means "of the stars" does it also mean that 'stellar' is a synonym for 'sidereal'? Wikipedia states that Sidereal, meaning "of the stars", may refer to: [...]
    – hotigiv
    May 9 at 9:16
  • You need to learn the normal co-locations. So "Sidereal time" (not stellar time) but "Stellar evolution" not "Sidereal evolution". There is not logic to this, you just have to learn which words go together.
    – James K
    May 9 at 13:02
  • There is also "astral" which also means "of the stars", but is more common in metaphysical contexts and not scientific ones.
    – James K
    May 9 at 13:04

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