lifeboat n.

a small spaceship designed for escaping from a damaged spaceship or space station; cf. lifeship n. and earlier escape ship n.


  • 1934 E. E. Smith Skylark of Valeron in Astounding Stories Sept. 39/2 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    The human beings were no longer aboard; the little lifeboat that was Skylark Two was no longer in her spherical berth.

  • 1941 T. Sturgeon Completely Automatic in Astounding Science-Fiction Feb. 86/1 Theodore Sturgeon bibliography

    They said that spaceships should no more take off without chem supers than they should without lifeboats. The fact that no one within the memory of living man had ever used a lifeboat for anything but joy-riding didn’t faze them.

  • 1946 A. B. Chandler Stability in Astounding Science Fiction July 143/2

    We have to go through the hold to the lifeboat.

  • 1956 S. Carson Seed of Tomorrow in Fantastic Universe Apr. 81/2

    The surcharge of energy delivered in the ruthless attack had reached and crippled his lifeboat. In grim desperation he went into emergency drive. As the lifeboat drifted sluggishly he saw that all firing had ceased and that the Gerex ships were returning across space to their base. The lifeboat spiraled slowly down toward the planet.

  • 1973 A. D. Foster Bloodhype 232

    Do you think the shuttles and lifeboats will operate, Moorea?

  • 2006 Analog June 107/2

    No mere lifeboat could possibly sustain a biosphere across years of interstellar flight, so the size of Harmony’s crew had been set by the suspended-animation capacity of its lifeboats.

Research requirements

antedating 1934

Earliest cite

E. E. Smith, 'The Skylark of Valeron'

Research History
Jeff Prucher submitted a cite from a 1995 reprint of Theodore Sturgeon's "Completely Automatic"; Mike Christie verified this in the original 1941 magazine appearance.
Ralf Brown located a cite in an electronic text of Alan Dean Foster's 1973 "Bloodhype", and David Dyer-Bennet verified it in a paper copy. Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Poul Anderson's "Star Ship".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1983 reprint of E. E. Smith's 1937-38 "Galactic Patrol"; Mike Christie verified it in the original magazine serial.
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1977 reprint of Leigh Brackett's 1944 "The Veil of Astellar".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Clifford D. Simak's "Time Quarry".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1956 cite from Sam Carson's "Seed of Tomorrow".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1934 cite from E. E. Smith's "The Skylark of Valeron".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1946 cite from Hal Clement's "Cold Front".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1946 cite from A. Bertram Chandler's "Stability".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Eric Frank Russell's "Follower".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1953 cite from William Morrison's "Divinity".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1951 cite from William Tenn's "Venus is a Man's World".

Jeff Prucher found a website that quotes E.E. Smith's 1934 "Triplanetary"; we would like to obtain a cite from this work.

Last modified 2021-03-24 19:56:09
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.