tribble n.

in the fictional universe of the Star Trek franchise: a species of small, furry, featureless alien

[coined by David Gerrold, author of the Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles]

Memory Alpha


Star Trek


  • 1967 D. Gerrold Trouble with Tribbles (Star Trek episode) (transcription)

    [Uhura] Oh, it’s adorable. What is it? [Jones] What is it? Why, lovely lady, it’s a tribble…. Only the sweetest creature known to man, excepting, of course, your lovely self. [Uhura] Oh, it’s purring. Listen, it’s purring.

  • 1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ iv. iii. 345 bibliography

    The Tribbles were small furry creatures about five inches in diameter.

  • 1977 S. Marshak & M. Culbreath Price of Phoenix (1985) i. 4

    Spock, who couldn’t hold a tribble or a cat without petting it.

  • 1993 V. Milan From Depths iii. 43

    What exactly are you keeping in there now? Denebian slime devils? a mugatu? Tribbles?

  • 1998 G. Cox Assignment: Eternity ii. 21

    At least it’s not a tribble, he thought.

  • 2004 J. Barnes Gaudeamus (2014) xxii. 302 page image John Barnes bibliography

    She leaned forward, focusing her attention on a young man with a thick wad of unruly black hair that looked like he’d rolled over on a tribble in his sleep.

  • 2013 A. D. Foster Into Darkness xvii. 298 page image Alan Dean Foster bibliography

    The tribble. The only one on board. It was, impossibly, alive. It ought not to be. But it most certainly was, which suggested that... which meant that... His eyes widened.

Research requirements

antedating 1967

Research History
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2004 cite from John Barnes.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2013 cite from Alan Dean Foster.

Last modified 2021-12-06 20:36:49
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.