light n. 1

= lightspeed, used as a unit of measure; cf. light-speed n. 2


  • 1934 E. E. Smith Skylark of Valeron in Astounding Stories Sept. 36/1 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    We're not supposed to know anything about the five-light drive of the Fenachrone, you know.

  • 1948 ˜‘M. Leinster’™ Planet of Sand in Famous Fantastic Mysteries Feb. 112/2 Murray Leinster

    We're not making much time. Not over six hundred lights, I'd say. But we'll get there.

  • 1954 R. Garrett Time Fuze in If Mar. 68/2 Randall Garrett bibliography

    The ship had only been provisioned to go to Alpha Centauri, scout the system without landing on any of the planets, and return. At ten lights, top speed for the ultradrive, it would take better than three months to get back.

  • 1960 P. Anderson Eve Times Four in Fantastic Science Fiction Stories Apr. 79/2 Poul Anderson bibliography

    But the top secondary speed of this boat is about 500 lights. The ship is going nearly 2,000: we don’t share that any longer, now when we're out of its drive field.

  • 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 8/2 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    At .93 lights…the stars become unrecognizable.

  • 1974 R. Silverberg Schwartz Between Galaxies in Feast of St. Dionysus (1987) 81 Robert Silverberg

    Three boneless Spicans do a twining dance of propitiation to while away the slow hours of nine-light travel.

  • 1984 ‘C. J. Cherryh’ Thoughts on Future of Conflict in Game Beyond 346 page image C. J. Cherryh bibliography

    The difference between an insystem conflict and an interstellar one is a concept to boggle terrestrially-habituated minds, but as an example, consider that even an insystem ship far more sophisticated than any we could presently build may take a year to get, say, across a 93 million-mile interval such as that between us and the Sun. And a ship traveling at one Light would cross that same distance in 8 minutes... about the time it would take the cook on that first ship to microwave a frozen dinner for that ship’s first lunch.

  • 1990 P. Anderson Burning Sky in Diplomacy Guild (1992) 182 page image Poul Anderson bibliography

    If these were Newtonian point masses, they’d swing by on hyperbolic paths at a distance of about thirty kilometers and a speed of about one-third light. But they aren’t, and it’d be a waste of breath to give you exact figures, when all I’m sure of is that the event horizons will intersect.

  • 2007 ‘B. Sparhawk’ Broadside in Breach the Hull (2009) 141 page image Bud Sparhawk bibliography

    ‘Are our drives spun up yet?’ ‘Aye, Sir. Set for one-quarter light. Blink on your command.’

Research requirements

antedating 1948

Earliest cite

Murray Leinster, 'Planet of Sand'

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1954 cite from Randall Garrett's "Time Fuze".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1965 reprint of Poul Anderson's "Eve Times Four"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1960 original.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1948 cite from Murray Leinster's "Planet of Sand".
Jesse Sheidlower submitted a 1965 cite from Larry Niven's "World of Ptavvs".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1984 cite from C. J. Cherryh.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1990 cite from Poul Anderson.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2007 cite from Bud Sparhawk.

Last modified 2021-12-08 11:30:35
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.