spacesickness n.

sickness caused by the effects of space flight

  • 1912 H. Gernsback Ralph 124C 41+ in Modern Electrics Mar. 844/2 Hugo Gernsback bibliography

    Space-sickness is one of the most peculiar sensations that can befall a human being.

  • 1926 G. C. Wallis & B. Wallis Star Shell in Weird Tales Nov. 605/1 bibliography

    It was an hour after the meal that the space-sickness seized us. Our poor internals, cut off from gravitation, must have been in a terrible muddle.

  • 1929 H. Gernsback in Amazing Stories Quarterly Winter 52/2 Hugo Gernsback

    Ralph grew more despondent each day, and his hope of bringing his betrothed back to life grew dimmer and dimmer as the hours rolled on. For the first time since he left the Earth he became space-sick. Space-sickness is one of the most unpleasant sensations that a human being can experience. Not all are subject to it, and it does not last longer than forty-eight hours, after which it never recurs. On Earth, gravitational action to a certain degree exerts a certain pull on the brain. Out in space, with practically no gravitational action, this pull ceases. When this happens, the brain is no longer subjected to the accustomed pull, and it expands slightly in all directions, just as a balloon loses its pear shape and becomes round when an aeronaut cuts loose, to drop down with his parachute. The effect on the brain results in space-sickness, the first symptoms being violent melancholy and depression followed by a terrible and heart-rending longing for Earth. During this stage, at which the patient undergoes great mental suffering, the optical nerves usually become affected and everything appears upside down, as if the sufferer were looking through a lens. It becomes necessary to take large doses ofSiltagol, otherwise brain fever may develop.

  • 1932 E. Hamilton in Wonder Stories Feb. 1048/1 Edmond Hamilton

    This space-sickness had put about a half of Drakeโ€™s men out of usefulness, Halkett and Burnham among them, when his eight rockets swung in to land near the Martian equator.

  • 1934 E. E. Smith Triplanetary in Amazing Stories Mar. 29/1 Edward E. Smith bibliography

    Barring a touch of an unusually severe type of space-sickness, everything worked beautifully.

  • 1934 E. E. Smith Triplanetary in Amazing Stories Mar. 28/1 Edward E. Smith bibliography

    Instantly over both men there came a sensation akin to a tremendously intensified vertigo; but a vertigo as far beyond the space-sickness of weightlessness, as that horrible sensation is beyond mere terrestrial dizziness.

  • 1988 A. C. Clarke 2061: Odyssey Three 76 Arthur C. Clarke

    What the Captain meant, of course, was spacesicknessโ€”but that word was, by general agreement, taboo aboard Universe.

  • 1993 K. S. Robinson Green Mars (new ed.) 94 Kim Stanley Robinson bibliography

    He was only just getting the slightest touch of appetite back, after a timeless interval of space sickness that apparently in the real world had clocked in at three daysโ€ฆ

  • 2013 A. Kaufman & M. Spooner These Broken Stars iii. 28 page image Meagan Spooner Amie Kaufman bibliography

    My stomach lurches as though Iโ€™m in for a bout of spacesickness.


Research requirements

antedating 1912

Earliest cite

Hugo Gernsback, Ralph 124C 41+

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1939 cite.
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1965 reprint of E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary", which was later verified in the 1934 original magazine appearance by Derek Hepburn, who also submitted another cite from that source.
Rick Hauptmann submitted a 1932 cite from Edmond Hamilton's "A Conquest of Two Worlds".
Fred Galvin located a cite in a 1958 reprint of Hugo Gernsback's "Ralph 124C 41+"; Mike Christie verified this in a 1952 edition, and Fred Galvin subsequently verified it in a 1929 reprint in Amazing Stories Quarterly. We would like to check the 1925 first edition.
The novel first appeared as a serial in the author's first magazine "Modern Electrics", in 1911. The story was apparently rewritten but we would like to check that version if possible. (Update: OED has confirmed its presence in the 1912 serialization.)
Alistair Durie submitted a 1926 cite from George C. Wallis and B. Wallis's "The Star Shell".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2013 cite from Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner's "These Broken Stars".

Earliest cite in the OED: originally 1951, now the 1912 Gernsback cite.

Last modified 2021-02-25 13:11:20
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.