airlock n.

a small intermediate compartment with controlled pressure and two airtight doors, used to facilitate movement between the interior and exterior of a spacecraft; (also) either of the doors to such a compartment; cf. space lock n.

This term is found as early as 1840 in reference to a submarine.

  • [1840 Mechanic & Chemist 19 Dec. 282/2

    a l is an air-lock [in a submarine], into which the men enter to pass up to d a; d a, rooms where air at the common density is heated, and where the hands refresh themselves.]

  • 1930 β€˜H. Vincent’ Explorers of Callisto in Amazing Stories Feb. 1001/2 page image Harl Vincent bibliography

    Dowling went to the shop for some tools and Ray and Gary climbed through the circular hatch into a small chamber inside the vessel. This chamber formed an air lock and communicated with the interior through a second circular hatch.

  • 1930 J. W. Campbell Black Star Passes in Amazing Stories Quarterly Fall 523/1 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    Through the air-locks the great ships settled into their world.

  • 1951 A. C. Clarke Sands of Mars ii. 12 Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

    Help him through the airlock when the tender couples up.

  • 1970 A. McCaffrey Ship who Sang (1991) i.20 Anne McCaffrey bibliography

    She must put on the suit because the airlock had no independent oxygen or cooling units.

  • 1973 A. C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama (1974) 20 Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

    A clearly marked circular disc, a hundred metres in diameter, was centred on the Pole, and Norton had a strong suspicion that this must be the outer seal of an enormous airlock.

  • 1981 β€˜C. J. Cherryh’ Pride of Chanur (1991) vii. 108 C. J. Cherryh bibliography

    Dur Tahar laid her ears back and started to go, lingered for one poisonous look beyond, toward the airlock, and a focus snapped back on center.

  • 1992 A. Steele Labyrinth of Night 40 Allen Steele bibliography

    Since the airlock could accommodate only two people at a time, the two men had allowed Miho to have her privacy while they waited in the depressurised garage.

  • 2005 R. J. Sawyer Mindscan xxx. 218 Robert J. Sawyer

    Then we cycled through the airlock, which happened to be adjacent to the pad where the moonbuses landed.

  • 2019 Y. H. Lee Dragon Pearl ix. 83 Yoon Ha Lee bibliography

    My sharp ears picked up the sounds of the mercs aligning one of their ships with ours and forcing the hatch open, then the whine of the airlock cycling. I tensed up. How many of them would come for us?

Research requirements

antedating 1930

Last modified 2022-02-22 17:54:53
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.