Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

Welcome to the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. This work-in-progress is a comprehensive quotation-based dictionary of the language of science fiction. The HD/SF is an offshoot of a project begun by the Oxford English Dictionary (though it is no longer formally affiliated with it). It is edited by Jesse Sheidlower. Please explore the menu links to learn more.

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Word Definition
3-di n. (No cites) see three-D n.
3V n. (No cites) see tri-v n.
actifan n. (1941) someone who is actively involved in fandom
adult fantasy n. (1932) fantasy intended for adults rather than children
aerocar n. (1900) a small, personal flying vehicle
Afrofuturism n. (1993) a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of Black history and culture
AI n. (1973) a sentient computer; = artificial intelligence n.
aircab n. (1934) a flying taxicab
aircar n. (1871) = aerocar n.
airlock n. (1930) a small airtight compartment with controlled pressure and two sets of doors, used to facilitate movement between the interior and exterior of a spacecraft; (also) either of the doors to such a compartment; cf. space lock n.
alien n. (1820) an (intelligent) being from a location other than one’s own, esp. such a being that is not from Earth
alien adj. (1919) of or pertaining to an (intelligent) being or beings from another planet; that derives from another world
alien life form n. (1937) = alien n.
Alpha Centaurian n. (1931) a native or inhabitant of the Alpha Centauri star system; cf. Centaurian n.
Alpha Centaurian adj. (1934) of or relating to the Alpha Centauri star system or its inhabitants; cf. Centaurian adj.
alternate future n. (1941) in time-travel contexts: one of a number of possible futures; cf. slightly earlier alternative future n.
alternate history n. (1954) a timeline that is different from that of our own world, usually extrapolated from the changing of a single event; the subgenre featuring such a timeline; (also) a story featuring this
alternate reality n. (1950) = alternate world n.
alternate universe n. (1950) = alternate world n.
alternate world n. (1944) one of many possible universes, which may have different physical laws or a different history than our own
alternative future n. (1932) = alternate future n.
alternative history n. (1970) = alternate history n.
alternative reality n. (1941) = alternate world n.
alternative universe n. (1944) = alternate world n.
alternative world n. (1943) = alternate world n.
android n. (1936) a robot or other artificial being made to resemble a human, esp. one made of synthetic flesh or a fleshlike material (in contrast to metal, plastic, etc.)
Anglic n. (1950) a future language descended from Modern English
Anglofan n. (1941) a science fiction fan who is a native or resident of the United Kingdom
anime n. (1985) a Japanese animated film or television programme, drawn in a meticulously detailed style, usually featuring characters with distinctive large, staring eyes, and typically having a science-fiction or fantasy theme, sometimes including violent or sexually explicit material; this genre of entertainment