Tellus n.

the planet Earth

OED has examples from 1587 onwards, chiefly in literary contexts, and without any implied contrast with other (inhabited) planets.

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1930 ‘G. Edwards’ in Science Wonder Stories Feb. 775/1 Gawain Edwards

    When the first explorers from the planet Jupiter, which they called Pleida reached the planet Tellus (which its former inhabitants had called Earth) they found there little to recommend it.

  • 1930 ‘G. Edwards’ in Science Wonder Stories Feb. 787/1 Gawain Edwards

    There is a mystery in Tellus which has not been solved. I cannot reconcile the disappearance of all its water and its race of men as well, with the legend preserved in our family that, not so very long ago, Tellurians visited us, staying beneath this very roof as guests. Why did the Earth-race die out so quickly?

  • 1931 Amazing Stories Sept. 544/2

    We'll pick up Dol Kenor and Pyraz Amonar on the way—no, get them to Tellus, too.

  • 1934 Amazing Stories Jan. 10/2,

    I wouldn’t trust them from Tellus to Luna.

  • 1941 ‘W. C. Davies’ Interference in Cosmic Science-Fiction July 38/1

    I can’t get a damned thing out of the ether except the pressure-waves from Tellus.

  • 1944 C. S. Lewis Perelandra (1962) 12 C. S. Lewis

    If something from outer space were trying to invade our planet, what better smoke-screen could it put up than this very story of Ransom’s? Was there the slightest evidence, after all, for the existence of the supposed maleficent eldils on this earth? How if my friend were the unwitting bridge, the Trojan Horse, whereby some possible invader were effecting its landing on Tellus?

  • 1944 C. S. Lewis Perelandra (1962) 188 C. S. Lewis

    Within these caves was burned the body of Edward Rolles Weston a learned Hnau of the world which those who inhabit it call Tellus but the eldila Thulcandra he was born when Tellus had completed one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six revolutions about Arbol since the time when Maleldil blessed be he was born as a Hnau in Thulcandra he studied the properties of bodies and first of the Tellurians travelled through deep heaven to Malacandra and to Perelandra where he gave up his will and reason to the bent eldil when Tellus was making the one thousandth nine hundredth and forty-second revolution after the birth of Maleldil blessed be he.

  • 1945 C. S. Lewis That Hideous Strength (1974) 180 C. S. Lewis

    ‘The shadow of one dark wing is over all Tellus.’ ‘Is it, then, the End?’ asked Merlin. ‘And this,’ said Ransom, ignoring the question, ‘is why we have no way left save the one I have told you. The Hideous Strength holds all this Earth in its fist.’

  • 1953 R. S. Shaver Beyond the Barrier in Other Worlds Jan. 104/1

    They swooped down over it, and it was as Tyron said, a very ancient craft, of the indestructible perdurable metal of the ancients who had colonized Tellus so long ago.

  • 1965 I. Asimov Water, Water, Everywhere– in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Dec. 87 Isaac Asimov

    Mr. Bridges is more interested in correct usage of planetary names, rather than in mere derivations (a more useful and less frivolous involvement than mine, you see) and, for instance, advocates what he maintains to be correctly derived words such as Venustian and Hesperian for hypothetical inhabitants of Venus in place of the incorrect Venusian or Cytherean; and Tellus and Tellurian in place of Terra and Terran. He lists astronomers and classical scholars who support his views.

  • 1967 A. Schwartz Wandering Tellurian 5

    As with most Tellurian ghettos, the enclave on Lhonz 4 kept an academy, a building with two floors, in contrast to the habitations surrounding it. It was solid and impressive, built of native red stone and furnished with the usual heavy tapestries and large fireplaces found in the ghetto. Lhonz 4 was a small, cold world, hereditarily inhabited by humanoids more notable for their hirsuteness than for their doubtful attractiveness. Relations between the locals and the sons of Tellus, the death merchants, were strictly on a cash basis. But the Tellurians had to make do with Lhonz. Few worlds relish the establishment of a race with a reputation for viciousness and undoubted possession of weapons in advance of anything in the galaxy.

  • 1991 S. Hood Den of Foxes 50

    What is becoming clearer to me is the probable state of Tellus in the year we are talking of: 2087.

  • 2015 J. C. Wright The Architect of Aeons V. i. 13 page image John C. Wright bibliography

    The nigh-to-lightspeed starship Emancipation hung in space in the spot where Tellus, the home of man, was in theory supposed to be.


Research requirements

antedating 1930

Earliest cite

G. Edwards 'A Rescue From Jupiter'

Research History
Brenda Clough located a cite in C.S.Lewis's 1945 "That Hideous Strength"; Mike Christie confirmed the cite in a 1974 reprint.
David Tate submitted a cite from a 1962 reprint of C.S. Lewis' 1944 "Perelandra".

Dan Tilque submitted a citation from a 1958 reprint of E.E. Smith's "The Skylark of Space"; Andy Sawyer checked the 1928 magazine appearance and a 1940's hardback and found that that cite did not include the word "Tellus" in those versions.
Larry Nussbaumer submitted a cite from a 1965 reprint of E.E.Smith's "Triplanetary"; Andy Sawyer verified the cite in the 1934 magazine appearance.
Rick Hauptmann submitted a 1931 cite from E.E. Smith's "Spacehounds of IPC".
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1930 cite from Gawain Edwards "A Rescue From Jupiter".

Fred Galvin found a reference in the ISFDB to a story by David C. Smith, "Tellus Mater", published in Space and Time, November 1975; we would be interested in verification or cites from a copy of this work.

Fred Galvin submitted a 1953 cite from Richard S. Shaver's "Beyond the Barrier"
Fred Galvin submitted a 1965 cite from a science column by Isaac Asimov in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1997 reprint of C.M. Kornbluth's 1941 story, "Interference"; Mike Christie verified this in its 1941 first publication.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1967 cite from Alan Schwartz's "The Wandering Tellurian".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2015 cite from John C. Wright.

The OED has citations back to 1430 for the non-sf sense, but none for the sf sense.

Last modified 2021-02-09 04:56:31
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.