graviton n.

a subatomic particle thought of as propagating the action of gravitational force

Though first found in science fiction, it has become a theorized particle in physics. In SF typically portrayed as used in propulsion systems.


  • 1929 ‘H. Vincent’ Barton’s Island in Amazing Stories Aug. 394/1 page image Harl Vincent bibliography

    The engine room of the Inquisitor was provided with two contra-field generators, each of sufficient power to support the vessel when fully loaded…. The basic discovery of the graviton had led Barton to the development of this unique apparatus…. The graviton, be it remembered, was identified by Barton in the laboratory as a close analogy to the magneton, that final element of magnetism whose relation to magnetism is similar to that of the electron to electricity.

  • 1935 Science 15 Mar. 271/2

    Sulaiman bases his theory of gravitation on ‘gravitons’, fine particles ‘at present beyond the range of our perceptions’.

  • 1941 ‘R. Rocklynne’ Time Wants Skeleton in Astounding Science-Fiction June 16/2 page image Ross Rocklynne bibliography

    A Wittenberg disrupter tears atoms apart. The free electrons are shunted off into accumulators, where we get power for lighting, cooking, heating and so forth. The protons go into the proton analyzer, where the gravitons are ripped out of them and stored in a special type of spherical field. When we want to move the ship, the gravitons are released. They spread through the ship and everything in the ship. The natural place for a graviton is a proton. The gravitons rush for the protons—which are already saturated with 1846 gravitons. Gravitons are unable to remain free in three-dimensional space. They escape along the time line, into the past.

  • 1942 ‘R. Rocklynne’ Jackdaw in Astounding Science Fiction Aug. 62/1 page image Ross Rocklynne bibliography

    My luck with a command netted a few puzzles—the peculiar relationships of gravitons to chronons for one, which, of course, was cracked, but only after a thousand years of concerted effort from the entire Third Level Corps.

  • 1952 J. Fletcher Empire of Women in Amazing Stories May 16/2 page image John Fletcher bibliography

    The sphere was carrying a motor generator creating gravitons, which was fueled by a fission metal which was also its warhead. It manufactured gravitons so fast that its artificial gravity was by now nearly equal to a big planet.

  • 1979 F. C. Gotschalk Trip of Bradley Oesterhaus in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July 113/2 page image Felix C. Gotschalk bibliography

    We toggled our pod nacelles, the graviton fields eased us on to the ground, and we were back home, all safe and sound.

  • 1990 L. Niven Madness Has Its Place in L. Niven et al. Man-Kzin Wars III (1992) i. 15 Larry Niven bibliography

    A lot of those photos show what’s maybe a graviton generator, maybe not.

  • 1990 F. Pohl World at End of Time (1993) 48 Frederik Pohl bibliography

    For lesser tasks he had the whole spectrum of photons at his disposal, too—radio, heat, visible light, gamma rays, X-rays, even gravitons.

  • 1998 W. Shatner et al. Spectre iii. 42 William Shatner bibliography

    On the screen, three violet beams of focused gravitons reached out to the stricken starship.

  • 1999 M. J. Friedman My Brother's Keeper iii. xviii. 169 Michael Jan Friedman bibliography

    Kirk pressed the stud on the jury-rigged graviton projector.

  • 2006 R. Rucker & P. Di Filippo Elves of Subdimensions in Mad Professor (2007) page image Paul Di Filippo Rudy Rucker bibliography

    According to orthodox rhizomal subdimension theory, if someone could miraculously deliver a proper sequence of presses to the button, the field-programmed quantum circuit would begin diverting gravitons into the subdimensions. And whoever held the talisman would be able to fly. The ultimate keyboard cheat.

Research requirements

antedating 1929

Earliest cite

Harl Vincent, in Amazing Stories

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite from Ross Rocklynne's "Time Wants A Skeleton".
Jesse Sheidlower submitted a 1929 cite from Harl Vincent in Amazing.

Earliest cite in OED2: 1942; updated to 1935 in OED3.

Last modified 2021-10-14 20:30:08
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.