waldo n.

a remotely operated body, arm, etc., used variously to extend the user’s natural abilities, perform work in an inhospitable environment or at a distance, etc.

[coined by Robert A. Heinlein (writing as ‘Anson MacDonald’) in his 1942 story about the inventor of such a device]

SF Encyclopedia

  • 1942 ‘A. MacDonald’ Waldo in Astounding Science-Fiction Aug. 16/2 page image Robert A. Heinlein Anson MacDonald bibliography

    Even the…humanoid gadgets known universally as ‘waldoes’…passed through several generations of development…in Waldo’s machine shop before he redesigned them for mass production. The first of them…had been designed to enable Waldo to operate a metal lathe.

  • 1957 R. Silverberg One-Way Journey in Infinity Science Fiction Nov. 60/2 page image Robert Silverberg bibliography

    We make a good team on the waldoes.

  • 1978 D. A. Stanwood Memory of Eva Ryker iii. 30

    The bathyscaphs are both equipped with remote manipulators—the experts call them ‘Waldos’ —for working under the extreme pressure.

  • 1981 T. Pratchett Strata 160 page image Terry Pratchett bibliography

    It was a robot, a big one shaped the best shape for a robot. Square. One waldo arm was groping in a square hole in the alcove’s metal wall.

  • 1985 J. Shirley Freezone in B. Sterling Mirrorshades (1986) 166 John Shirley bibliography

    One of them hit the guy too hard with the waldo-enhanced arm of his riot suit.

  • 1986 W. Gibson Burning Chrome 201 William Gibson bibliography

    I was working late in the loft one night, shaving down a chip, my arm off and the little waldo jacked straight into the stump.

  • 1988 ‘C. J. Cherryh’ Cyteen 130 C. J. Cherryh bibliography

    She…used the waldo to send the offending sample back through cryogenics.

  • 1992 A. Steele Labyrinth of Night 194 Allen Steele bibliography

    The semi-robotic machine stood ten feet high and moved on two backward-jointed waldo legs.

  • 1993 K. S. Robinson Red Mars (1993) 373 Kim Stanley Robinson bibliography

    ‘We're like dwarves in a waldo’, Frank said to him angrily. ‘One of those really big waldo excavators. We're inside it and supposed to be moving a mountain, and instead of using the waldo capabilities we're leaning out of a window and digging with teaspoons.

  • 2019 ‘J. S. A. Corey’ Tiamat’s Wrath xl. 415 Daniel Abraham Ty Franck bibliography

    The forensics lab, however, was new. It was a wide room with a high ceiling and movable partitions that could seal off a section and keep its atmosphere separate. Fume hoods with waldoes and blast-resistant glass lined one wall. The tables that filled the center of the room had aisles between them wide enough for specialized tool carts—chemical, biological, electronic, computational—to be wheeled to wherever they were needed.

Research requirements

antedating 1942

Earliest cite

Robert A. Heinlein, 'Waldo'

Research History
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2019 cite from "James S. A. Corey".
Clive Shergold submitted a 1981 cite from Terry Pratchett.

Last modified 2023-08-21 13:29:35
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.