time warp n.

an imaginary or hypothetical distortion of space-time whereby people or objects at one point in time can be moved to another, or within which time moves at a different speed

SF Encyclopedia

Time Travel

  • [1930 N. Schachner & A. L. Zagat In 20,000 A.D.! in Wonder Stories Sept. 314/1 (footnote) page image Arthur Leo Zagat Nat Schachner bibliography

    Jenkins had evidently fallen into a warp in space. The Vanishing Wood was a pucker—a fault, we might say, borrowing a geologic term—in the curvature of space. Through this warp he had been thrown clear out of our three dimensions into a fourth dimension. There he slid in time over the other side of the ridge or pucker, into the same spot in the three-dimensional world, but into a different era in time. Notice that he had not traveled an inch in space; all his journeying had been purely in time.]

  • 1937 O. Saari Time Bender in Astounding Stories Aug. 72/2 page image Oliver Saari bibliography

    Cameron, of the twentieth century, was using the time warp to propel him ahead in time.

  • 1938 R. M. Williams Flight of Dawn Star in Astounding Science-Fiction Mar. 36/1

    ‘That warp,’said Sarl slowly. ‘—was a time warp and not a space warp. You went along with the Sun as it moved, and when you came through again, the stars had shifted until you couldn’t recognize them. You thought you had been shifted in space.’

  • 1939 C. Simak in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 134/2

    They will use a time warp… They will bud out from their universe, but in doing so they will distort the time factor in the walls of their hypersphere.

  • 1951 ‘H. H. Holmes’ Rocket to Morgue 54 Anthony Boucher

    The gadget stories were more interesting. They frequently made honest attempts at forecasting scientific developments. Atomic power, stratosphere exploration, the rocket flight that so absorbs Chantrelle, all the features that may revolutionize the second half of this century as thoroughly as radio and the airplane have transformed this half—all these became familiar, workable things. But the writers stopped there. Interest lay in the gadget itself. And science fiction was headed for a blind alley until the realization came that even science fiction must remain fiction, and fiction is basically about people, not subatomic blasters nor time warps.

  • 1966 R. Sheckley Mindswap 132 Robert Sheckley

    ‘I stepped into a time warp on the twelfth hole,’ Uncle Max said.

  • 1968 D. C. Fontana Tomorrow is Yesterday in J. Blish Star Trek 2 (1968) 31 D. C. Fontana

    A time warp landed us back here.

  • 1974 J. Blish Star Trek 10 5 James Blish

    Time warp distortion.

  • 1985 B. Hambly Ishmael iv. 59 Barbara Hambly

    Time warps can be created.

  • 1985 M. W. Bonanno Dwellers in Crucible i. 14 Margaret Wander Bonanno

    Voting from deep space was a sometimes sticky procedure, complicated by time-warp distortions, differing residency laws from planet to planet, and the difficulty of sending secret ballots on hyperchannel.

  • 1987 J.B. Stine Spaceballs xxiii.117

    Once upon a time warp…deep in outer space, far beyond the known universe, there lived a ruthless race of beings known as…spaceballs.

  • 1987 N. Spinrad Little Heroes (1989) 169 Norman Spinrad

    There was a warmth in those eyes, a wisdom, a spirit of adventure, God help him, a sexiness, that made him wish for a time warp, for certainly there was nothing he would have liked more than to embark upon this adventure with the hot young girl this old lady had so manifestly once been.

  • 1988 S. McCrumb Bimbos of Death Sun vii. 86 Sharyn McCrumb bibliography

    He eased down into the empty floor space next to Marion, wondering if the room had fallen into a twenty-year time warp.

  • 1995 D. Carey & J.I. Kirkland First Frontier i. iii. 45

    Warp—time—warp—warp.

  • 2008 M. Crilley Akiko & Missing Misp vi. 53

    That’s right. The future. You sent me through a time warp.


Research requirements

antedating 1937

Earliest cite

Oliver Saari, 'The Time Bender'

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1939 cite from Clifford Simak's "Cosmic Engineers".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1980 reprint of Robert Moore Williams' "Flight of the Dawn Star", which Mike Christie verified in its 1938 first publication.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1937 cite from "The Time Bender" by Oliver Saari.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1930 cite from Nat Schachner and A. L. Zagat for "warp" (without "time").

(Earliest cite in OED2: 1954; now expanded into multiple senses, the earliest being the 1937 Saari cite.)

Last modified 2021-10-19 21:26:35
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.