earthling n.

a native or inhabitant of Earth

OED has evidence from the sixteenth century for the sense ‘an inhabitant of the earth, in contrast to Heaven’


  • 1858 Fayetteville (N. Carolina) Observer 18 Oct. 2/3

    The last time the great comet was seen by us earthlings is said to be three hundred years ago.

  • 1892 W. Carleton City Festivals 89

    In Neptune I a story gat Few earthlings would indorse: Men treat their bodies well as that Of any blooded horse.

  • 1896 G. P. Lathrop In the Deep of Time in Morning Times (Washington, DC) 27 Dec. 16/4 page image George Parsons Lathrop bibliography

    You earthlings debate as to the existence or non-existence of Hell and there it is, staring you in the face all the time.

  • 1930 H. Gernsback Life on Other Planets in Wonder Stories Dec. 629/1 page image Hugo Gernsback bibliography

    The intelligence of Martians, if there be any, must be far in advance of that of earthlings.

  • 1940 H. Bates Farewell to the Master in Astounding Science-Fiction Oct. 59/1 page image Harry Bates bibliography

    Hinged robots of crude manlike appearance were familiar enough, but never had Earthling eyes lain on one like this.

  • 1950 P. Anderson Star Ship in Planet Stories Oct. 74/1 Poul Anderson bibliography

    There’d been Earthling girls; and not a few Khazaki women had been intrigued by the big Terrestrial.

  • 1959 K. Vonnegut Sirens of Titan 133 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. bibliography

    Advance units of the Martian Imperial Commandos had already obliterated Earthling installations on the Earthling moon. The Commando rocket batteries, firing from the moon, were now giving every major city a taste of hell.

  • 1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. v. 232 bibliography

    I suspect that the character’s remote quality—a sort of loneliness because he is different from the rest of the Earthling crew—makes the kids react.

  • 1984 D. Brin Practice Effect vi. i. 99 David Brin bibliography

    Earthlings had had to struggle and experiment for thousands of years to reach a level of comfort these people achieved almost without thinking.

  • 1985 R. Rucker & B. Sterling Storming Cosmos in B. Sterling Globalhead (1994) 18 Bruce Sterling Rudy Rucker bibliography

    The dog Laika has been shot into the cosmic void. A good dog, a Russian, an Earthling.

  • 1993 H. Collins Mutagenesis 20 Helen Collins bibliography

    You and I will be collecting Anunna! We will have no interest in Earthlings like Barney and his daughters.

  • 1993 A. Budrys Hard Landing 100 Algis Budrys bibliography

    Furthermore, I did not know if an un-Earthling had ever previously been encountered, but that did not mean much; you can trust any branch of the service above a certain level of rank to keep its secrets.

  • 1997 2000 AD 28 Oct. (verso front cover)

    According to everything I see and read on this world, one word seems to prey on the minds of most Earthlings; sex. Certainly my editorial droids seem to spend a lot of time discussing the topic, hence this special sex-themed prog.

  • 2006 S. M. Stirling Sky People i. 21 S. M. Stirling bibliography

    The newcomers spared a few startled glances at them: You had to look fairly closely to see that they weren’t common garden-variety Caucasoid Earthlings.

Research requirements

antedating 1858

Earliest cite

Fayetteville (N. Carolina) Observer

Research History
Simon Koppel submitted an 1896 cite from G. P. Lathrop.

The OED entry was revised in Dec. 2010, discriminating between the sense of an inhabitant of earth rather than heaven (earliest cite 1593), and the SF sense of an inhabitant of earth rather than another planet (earliest cite 1858)

Last modified 2021-04-15 11:16:21
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.