porthole n.

a small window in a spacecraft

  • 1911 H. Gernsback Ralph 124C 41+ in Modern Electrics 596/2 page image Hugo Gernsback bibliography

    It is of course of the utmost importance that no porthole or doors leading to the outside be ever opened as long as the flyer is in the outer space. The result would be that the air would rush from the flyer instantly, resulting in a perfect vacuum in the inside of the space flyer, which would of course kill every living being almost instantly.

  • 1925 W. E. Backus Waning of World in Weird Tales Dec. 828/2 page image W. Elwyn Backus bibliography

    ‘Boys, I'm going to try a whiff of our new atmosphere’, said the professor, unlatching one of the small portholes. Before either of the others could interfere, he had swung the heavy glass slightly inward, and sniffed the Martian air speculatively.

  • 1931 ‘G. Edwards’ Return from Jupiter in Wonder Stories Mar. 1062/2 page image Gawain Edwards bibliography

    It was a space-car, long, swift, gleaming in the pale light of the distant sun like a cartridge of stainless steel. On either side was a row of round portholes through which the occupants could look out into space.

  • 1941 R. M. Williams You Ought to be Dead in Amazing Stories Aug. 92/2 page image Robert Moore Williams bibliography

    The instant he looked through the porthole, a grimy greasy sickness hit him in the stomach. That was what space sickness was: fear. Fear of being in space, a horrible nauseating phobia.

  • 1954 S. J. Bounds It's Dark Out There in Authentic Science Fiction Nov. 67/2 page image Sydney J. Bounds bibliography

    One moment there were the moon and stars beyond the porthole; the next, abysmal darkness. Nothing… The rear porthole should have been filled with the immense bulk of Earth. And there was only blackness.

  • 1998 I. R. MacLeod Home Time in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Feb. 17 page image Ian R. MacLeod bibliography

    Looking out of the side window and down into the blue chasms is almost as bad as staring out of the porthole during a Jump.

  • 2011 C. Miéville Embassytown 35 page image China Miéville bibliography

    I didn’t see the Ariekene Pharos that first time out, but thousands of hours later. To be precise I’ve never seen it, of course, nor could I; that would require light and reflection and other physics that are meaningless there. But I’ve seen representations, rendered by ships’ windows. The ’ware in those portholes depicts the immer and everything in it in terms useful to crew.

Research requirements

antedating 1911

Earliest cite

Hugo Gernsback, "Ralph 124C 41+", in Modern Electrics

Research History
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1931 cite from Gawain Edwards "The Return to Jupiter".
Alistair Durie submitted a 1925 cite from W Elwyn Backus's "The waning of a world".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2011 cite from China Miéville's "Embassytown".
Fred Galvin suggested that a cite from a later printing of Hugo Gernsback's "Ralph 124C 41+" might be in the original publication; Jesse Sheidlower was able to verify this.

Earliest cite in OED2: 1956; updated to 1927 in OED3 (in reference to an airplane, not a spacecraft).

Last modified 2022-02-27 21:14:55
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.