Terrestrial n.

a native or inhabitant of Earth; = earthling n.

In early use, ‘a human being; a mortal, in contrast with a divine entity’.


  • [1726 E. Fenton in A. Pope et al. tr. Homer Odyssey IV. xix. 691

    Heav’n that knows what all terrestrials need, Repose to night, and toil to day decreed.]

  • [1794 T. Holcroft Love’s Frailties i. vi 14 page image

    Meteors, Sir Gregory; which you terrestrials may gaze at, but cannot reach: a kind of rainbow, the splendor of which everybody admires, but nobody can equal.]

  • [1873 R. A. Proctor Expanse of Heaven (1877) 235

    Varieties of effect altogether unfamiliar to us terrestrials.]

  • 1889 H. MacColl Mr. Stranger’s Sealed Packet in Vilas County News (Eagle River, Wis.) (1897) 17 May viii. 8/1 page image Hugh MacColl bibliography

    He gave me a cordial, welcoming smile, and held out his left hand to me [...] I thought it strange that these Marsians should be so like the terrestrials, not only in their forms and features, but in their very customs. Unquestionably they must have had a common origin, and at no extraordinary remote period either. How could this possibly have been? Was it possible that other terrestrials had anticipated me, and dared to traverse the interplanetary space before me?

  • 1925 H. Gernsback Ralph 124 C 41 + 41 Hugo Gernsback

    The other was not a Terrestrial, but a visiting Martian. It was impossible to mistake the distinctly Martian cast of countenance. The great black horse eyes in the long, melancholy face, the elongated slightly pointed ears were proof enough. Martians in New York were not sufficiently rare to excite any particular comment. Many made that city their permanent home, although the law on the planet Earth, as well as on Mars, which forbade the intermarrriage of Martians and Terrestrials, kept them from flocking earthwards in any great numbers.

  • 1931 R. F. Starzl Terrors of Aryl in Wonder Stories Mar. 1107/2

    Lately the perihelion excursions have made the peculiar and terrifying atmospheric conditions of Aryl familiar to thousands of Terrestrials, but in 1998 this strange planet, whirling dizzily around the sun inside the orbit of Mercury, was practically unexplored.

  • 1931 C. A. Smith Adventure in Futurity in Wonder Stories Apr. 1248/1 Clark Ashton Smith

    In the actual conflict the Venusians had suffered more heavily than the Terrestrials, and thousands of them had been slain and others compelled to flee before the superior weapons of mankind.

  • 1941 D. A. Wollheim in Cosmic Stories Mar. 129 page image Donald A. Wollheim

    Please use literate terminology for the names of planet dwellers. Let’s have no Mercutians, Venutians, Plutians, Jupiterians or Terrestrials running around. There are more accurate terms.

  • 1950 P. Anderson Star Ship in Planet Stories Oct. 74/1 Poul Anderson bibliography

    There’d been Earthling girls; and not a few Khazaki women had been intrigued by the big Terrestrial.

  • 1950 R. A. Heinlein Farmer in Sky (1975) ix. 100 Robert A. Heinlein bibliography

    He said that ‘M-G’ meant ‘mutation-Ganymede’ and the other meant ‘normal terrestrial.’

  • 1957 P. Anderson Life Cycle in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July 53/2 Poul Anderson bibliography

    He was the pilot and engineer, the only other Terrestrial on Mercury. When you dove this far down into the sun’s monstrous gravitational well, you couldn’t take a big crew along.

  • 1964 P. K. Dick Little Black Box in We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (1994) ii. 18 Philip K. Dick

    Mercer is not on Earth. I would guess that he is not a terrestrial at all.

  • 1987 O. Butler Dawn (1991) i. v. 40 Octavia E. Butler bibliography

    We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It’s a terrestrial characteristic.

  • 2009 M. Cassutt Last Apostle in Asimov’s Science Fiction July 20 page image Michael Cassutt bibliography

    We believe the Moon was visited by terrestrials at least half a billion years before you two.

Research requirements

antedating 1925

Earliest cite

Hugo Gernsback, 'Ralph 124 C 41 +'

Research History
Jeff Prucher submitted cites from the March 1931 Wonder Stories and the April 1931 Wonder Stories.
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1931 reprint of Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men"; we would like to verify this in the 1930 first publication.
Lance Purple submitted a cite from from a 1925 publication of Hugo Gernsback's "Ralph 124 C 41 +" : we would be interested to see if the term was used in the 1911 serialization in the magazine Modern Electrics.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted an 1889 cite from Hugh MacColl.

Last modified 2022-02-22 21:57:53
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.