flitter n.

a small usu. short-range aircraft or spaceship


  • 1941 E. E. Smith Vortex Blaster in Comet July 10/2 Edward E. Smith bibliography

    Then all three went out to the flitter. A tiny speedster, really; a torpedo bearing the stubby wings and the ludicrous tail-surfaces…characteristic of the tricky, cranky, but ultra-maneuverable breed.

  • 1944 ‘W. Long’ Circle of Confusion in Astounding Science Fiction Mar. 54/1 page image George O. Smith bibliography

    Small flitters were powered and made ready, and everything that carried manual controls was inspected and cleaned for action.

  • 1955 ‘A. North’ Sargasso of Space (1957) 53

    The small flitters carried by the Queen for exploration work held with comfort a two-man crew—with crowding, three.

  • 1956 ‘A. North’ Plague Ship (1964) 133

    The flitter—an air sled intended to hold three men and supplies for exploring trips on strange worlds—was first stripped of all non-essentials until what remained was not much more than the pilot’s seat and the motor.

  • 1957 J. Vance in Satellite Science Fiction Dec. 10/2 Jack Vance

    You delivered sixty-four barrage monitors, five hundred and twelve patrol flitters, a large number of multiple resonators, energetics, wasps and hand-weapons. These accord with the original order.

  • 1957 ‘A. Norton’ Star Born (1984) 15 Andre Norton

    Raf Kurbi, flitter pilot and techneer, lay on the padded shock cushion of his assigned bunk and stared with wide, disillusioned eyes at the stretch of stark, gray metal directly overhead.

  • 1982 A. McCaffrey Crystal Singer 91 Anne McCaffrey

    The cost of the flitter craft used by Crystal Singers in the ranges was staggering; the sonic cutting gear that had to be tuned to the user was also expensive and a variety of other items whose purpose was not yet known to her were basic Singer’s tools.

  • 1984 R. Silverberg Waiting for Earthquake in R. Silverberg Conglomeroid Cocktail Party (1984) 204 Robert Silverberg

    At the landing strip where commuters from Enrique and Pellucidar once had parked their flitters after flying in for the weekend, he checked out his own, an ‘83 model with sharply raked lines and a sophisticated moire-pattern skin, now somewhat pitted and rusted by neglect.

  • 1990 R. L. Forward Rocheworld 279 Robert L. Forward

    But it still was smarter than the hunters and flitters, who had their own sounds.

  • 1993 P. Anderson Harvest of Stars (1994) 40 Poul Anderson bibliography

    The view from the roof bore comparison with what he saw from his flitter before he landed…

  • 1994 S.M. Baxter Ring (1996) i. 10

    On the third day her parents took her on a trip by flitter.

  • 1994 S. Baxter Ring (1996) 43

    The flitter tumbled from the shimmering throat of the wormhole transit route from Port Sol to Earthport. Louise Ye Armonk peered out of the cramped cabin, looking for Earth. Mark sat beside her, a bookslate on his lap.

  • 2005 Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest Fall 12

    Flitters buzzed through the air between the spires, and brass skinned vacuum-blimps loomed over the stinking roar. They added their own unique shadows to the fuming darkness we tradesiders scurried through.

Research requirements

antedating 1941

Earliest cite

Edward E. Smith, 'The Vortex Blaster'

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1984 reprint of Andre Norton's "Star Born".
Stuart Young submitted a cite from a 1981 reprint of Frank Herbert's "The Godmakers.
Patrick Dusoulier submitted a 1957 cite from Jack Vance's "The Languages of Pao".
James Birdsall submitted a cite from a 1964 reprint of Andre Norton's 1956 "The Plague Ships".
Ethan Merritt submitted a cite from a reprint of Andre Norton's 1955 "Sargasso of Space"; Mike Christie verified it in a 1957 edition.
Enoch Forrester submitted a 1944 cite from George O. Smith's "Circle of Confusion".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1941 cite from Edward E. Smith's "The Vortex Blaster".
Dr. M. Lohr submitted a cite from a 1996 reprint of Stephen Baxter's "Ring".
Katrina Campbell submitted a 1982 cite from Anne McCaffrey's "Crystal Singer".

Last modified 2021-01-11 20:52:48
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.