gravity drive n.

a spaceship drive that uses any technology associated with gravity


  • 1932 J. W. Campbell, Jr. Invaders from the Infinite in Amazing Stories Quarterly Spring–Summer 219/1 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    He made a new ship…. It was equipped with gravity drive, and time distortion speed apparatus, and his far better trained mind finished this smaller ship with his titanic tools in less than the two days that it took them to reach Venone.

  • 1941 ‘E. Binder’ Vassals of the Master World in Planet Stories Fall 30/2 page image bibliography

    In a few minutes they were climbing into a long, slender winged cigar, equipped with gravity-drive.

  • 1950 P. Anderson Star Ship in Planet Stories Fall 73/2 page image Poul Anderson bibliography

    None of them had ever built a rocketship, had ever seen one in action even. It was centuries obsolete in Galactic civilization. But gravity drives were out of the question. So—they’d had to design the ship from the ground up.

  • 1972 C. Kapp Patterns of Chaos in Worlds of If Feb. 34/2 page image Colin Kapp bibliography

    The ship settled to the vibrant thunder of the main gravity drive, which would be its prime mover until it was clear of the planetary system of which Onaris was part. Not until then could the cumbersome physical drive systems be abandoned in favor of the delicate subspace mechanisms which would flip the ship to its destination at mega[-]light velocities without regard to mass or momentum.

  • 1985 O. S. Card Ender's Game (1994) 82 Orson Scott Card bibliography

    Obviously, we can now control gravity. Turn it on and off, change the direction, maybe reflect it—I’ve thought of lots of neat things you could do with gravity weapons and gravity drives on starships.

  • 2009 R. Garcia y Robertson SinBad the Sand Sailor July 44 page image R. Garcia y Robertson bibliography

    Heat shield, gravity drive, and life-support system had been sold off long ago. The former spaceship was crammed with loot, crawling with cats, and patrolled by pit bulls.

Research requirements

antedating 1932

Earliest cite

J. W. Campbell, Jr., in Amazing Stories

Research History
Irene Grumman submitted a 1994 cite from a revised edition of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game", which Mike Christie verified in a 1986 edition. Irene Grumman also checked the 1977 magazine story, and the term does not appear there.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Poul Anderson's "Star Ship".
Jesse Sheidlower submitted a 1932 cite from John W. Campbell's "Invaders from the Infinite", in Amazing Stories, and several of the other cites.

Last modified 2021-01-03 19:04:57
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.