COSMONAUT: The Word of the Month April 2011

Every month, we take a look at a word in the headlines, in English, for your English. See more at The Word of the Month.


Cosmonaut (noun):
• a space explorer, someone who works and travels in space. In Russia.

Astronaut (noun):
• a space explorer, someone who works and travels in space. In America.

An Astronaut is just like a Cosmonaut: identical, but superior in every way.


In April 2011, the 50th anniversary of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight into space was celebrated with this special rendition of the Soviet National Anthem.

Comedian Coluche called Gagarin “the unluckiest man on earth: he flew around the world 17 times and landed back in the USSR.”

The space race was finally won by the US when musician Louis Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969.

Fun Facts:

Gagarin was the first human in space, but not the first animal.

Laika, a dog, flew on the Russian shuttle Sputnik2 four years before Yuri. She died in space.

After his trip to space, this monkey said “They told me I was going back to the jungle!”


Yuri Gagarin is one of many Russians who made the motherland proud. Others include:

  • Ivan the Terrible — By all accounts, a great guy.
  • Peter the Great — By all accounts, a terrible guy.
  • Catherine the Great — Empress of Russia. The French accused her of sleeping with horses.
  • Ivan Drago — Famous Soviet boxer, almost defeated Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV.

Take a look through our Word of the Month archives, or improve your English with

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