teleportation n.

instantaneous transportation from one place to another, esp. by means of a machine which breaks matter down into its constituent particles or converts it to energy, information, etc., and transmits it in this form to another location where it is reconstituted

In the 1930s examples, showing the use as a form of psychic or spiritualistic power.

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1931 C. Fort Lo! i. iv. 42 Charles Fort

    Sometimes, in what I call ‘teleportations’, there seems to be ‘agency’ and sometimes not.

  • 1932 C. H. Fort Wild Talents ii. 27 Charles Fort bibliography

    Mostly in this book I shall specialize upon indications that there exists a transportory force that I shall call Teleportation.

  • 1932 C. H. Fort Wild Talents x. 98 Charles Fort bibliography

    Marauding animals have often unaccountably appeared in, or near, human communities.…I have collected notes upon these occurrences, as teleportations. [Ibid. x. 100] It seems to me that my expressions upon Teleportations are somewhat satisfactory in most of the cases—that is, that there is a force, distributive of forms of life and other phenomena that could switch an animal, say from a jungle in Madagascar to a back yard somewhere in Nebraska.

  • 1943 T. Sturgeon & J. H. Beard The Bones in Unknown Worlds Aug. 110/1 page image Theodore Sturgeon James H. Beard bibliography

    ‘Are you telling me you felt things in those pictures?’ Farrel nodded soberly. ‘Donzey, I was in those pictures.’ Donzey thought, What have I got here? Transmigration? Teleportation? Clairvoyance? Why, there’s ten billion in it!

  • 1944 ‘L. Padgett’ When the Bough Breaks in Astounding Science Fiction Nov. 89/1 page image Henry Kuttner C. L. Moore bibliography

    Teleportation? Quat showed me last night. He can’t do it himself, but I’m X Free super so I can. The power isn’t disciplined yet.

  • 1951 ‘J. Wyndham’ Pawley’s Peepholes in Science-Fantasy Winter 8 page image John Wyndham bibliography

    Suppose the Russians had a transmitter, and could project things or people here by teleportation.

  • 1969 ‘P. Chapdelaine’ Spork & the Beast in Worlds of If May 98/1 page image Perry A. Chapdelaine bibliography

    Natural teleportation did not consume time, while hyper-drive did.

  • 1984 D. Brin Practice Effect ii.i.22 David Brin bibliography

    Had the ziev effect played another trick on them all and given them teleportation rather than an interstellar drive?

  • 1993 H. Ellison Mefisto in Onyx in Omni Oct. 134/3 page image Harlan Ellison bibliography

    I didn’t really know how I jaunted. I just…did it. One moment I was snug in the privacy of my own head, and the next I was over there in someone else’s landscape. It was instantaneous, like teleportation.

  • 2001 Cult Times Feb. 59/5

    Martin Brundle, son of the late Seth, is born under the watchful eye of Anton Bartok, an unscrupulous scientific tycoon, determined to discover the secret of the teleportation pods invented by Martin’s father.

Research requirements

antedating 1931

Earliest cite

C. Fort 'Lo!'

Research History
The OED has cites back to 1931 for uses of "teleportation" that come from spiritualism. We are looking here for cites that refer to the power of teleportation in a science fiction setting.
Bill Seabrook submitted a cite from a 1970 reprint of Theodore Sturgeon and James Beard's 1943 story "The Bones". We would like to check the magazine appearance in 1943 in Unknown. Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of Lewis Padgett's "When The Bough Breaks"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1944 first magazine appearance.

We noted that Martin Gardner's "In the Name of Science" (1952) credited Charles Fort with coining the word teleportation (in this particular sense), and requested cites from early copies of Fort's books, and Bob Rickard of the Fortean Times submitted cites from Fort's "Lo!" (1931) and "Wild Talents" (1932)

Earliest cite in the OED: 1951 in the sf sense.

Last modified 2022-10-04 15:47:33
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.