a (semi-)intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal
Originally with reference to the mass-produced workers in Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots (1920) which are assembled from artificially synthesized organic material.
[< Czech robot (1920 in R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots, a play by Karel Čapek (1890–1938), Czech author; the subtitle of the Czech play is in English) < robota forced labour, drudgery.
According to Karel Čapek, the word was suggested to him by his brother Josef (1887–1945) as an alternative to his original intention of coining a word ultimately < classical Latin labor ‘work; labor’.]
RUR[:] Rossum’s Universal Robots.
(title of play)
1922 N.Y. Times 13 Aug. 78
Robots were by all means better for use in factories and in armies, making cheap labor material, and not causing any troubles as strikers.
You see…the Robots have no interest in life. They have no enjoyments.
tr. K. Čapek R.U.R. 28
‘Marse Nick,’ he demanded, ‘is dey real men or does dey go by machinery?’ ‘Blessed if I know, Jake… You'd best ask Mister Jeremy.’ ‘Sort of Robots I’d say, Nick. But it’s a puzzle we shall have to solve later,’ said Jeremy.
City of No Escape 58
Kid, what are you doing at the shop at midnight? Think you are a robot secretary, or something?… Ought to be home in bed, kid.
Ruler of Fate in Weird Tales Apr. 388/1
I am a robot. A metal man with a brain of sponge iridium. I have gears and wheels and I run on a battery. True enough. But I have the mind of a man!
Fights a War in Amazing Stories Dec. 11/1
The tank was, of course, a kind of super-robot and was now out of action as far as driving itself went.
Mecanica in Cosmic Stories Mar. 30/2
The ship carried two pilots, a navigator, a doctor, fifty babies, twenty-five special humanoid robots, computers, and supplies.
Field Expedient in Astounding Science-Fiction Jan. 91/2
1964 Worlds of If Jan. 74
He knew a robot was only a tool to be used by men. But the big question was—who was using who?
[‘]Good evening, gentlemen’, the robot said…. The robot was a Robert Redford–Lee Majors physiog combo, and sported a slightly toned-down Schwartzenagger [sic] body.
Take a Midget Step in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction June 91/2
In Short Circuit a combat robot achieves sentience and is a good guy, here a combat robot goes out of control, killing everything it sees, and is shut down.
Rambles Around My Macintosh in Interzone Aug. 63/2
I sat across from him and let him see a small smile, and the robot asked about my life of late, and I shrugged without commitment.
Creatures of Well-Defined Habits in Asimov’s Science Fiction Aug. 38
You want anything else? A robot to massage your feet three times a day? A new Porsche?
Sixteenth Watch 53
in the subtitle of Čapek’s play
Last modified 2021-03-18 15:06:26
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.