skimmer n.

any of various small vehicles that fly relatively close to the ground, esp. by means of an anti-gravity propulsion system

In use since the 1840s referring to various kind of watercraft, including hydrofoils and hydroplanes.


  • 1949 W. L. Bade Lost Ulysses in Astounding Science Fiction May 116/1 page image William L. Bade bibliography

    Tractors shoved the stuff into piles and skimmers mounting gravity engines carried it away.

  • 1957 I. Asimov Profession in Astounding Science Fiction July 42/2 page image Isaac Asimov bibliography

    The skimmer landed at the roof-entry of a hotel.

  • 1963 F. A. Javor in Analog Science Fiction/Fact Nov. 46/1 Frank A. Javor

    Through it, visible above and around it in all directions, a swirling, shifting mass upon mass of human beings. Some in fliers, others on skimmers.

  • 1965 R. Zelazny …And Call Me Conrad in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct. 11/1 page image Roger Zelazny bibliography

    I stood and drew her to her feet as it buzzed in lowβ€”a Radson Skimmer: a twenty-foot cockleshell of reflection and transparency; flat-bottomed, blunt-nosed.

  • 1973 N. Spinrad in Analog Science Fiction/Fact Jan. 70/2 Norman Spinrad

    A lone guard armed with a Japanese-made slicer patrolled the fence in endless circles at fifteen feet on a one-man skimmer.

  • 1974 A. McCaffrey Prelude to a Crystal Song in R. Elwood Continuum 1 (1977) 112 Anne McCaffrey bibliography

    He ordered a private skimmer to be ready within the hour.

  • 1981 G. R. R. Martin in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Magazine 12 Oct. 21/2 George R. R. Martin

    The Guardians had twenty armed skimmers, and there were another hundred-odd skimmers and aircars in private hands. We commandeered them, armed them. We also had our airships. Skimmers and aircars are difficult and expensive to maintain here.

  • 1986 D. Carey Battlestations! v.74 Diane Carey

    It may be as normal for them as learning to fly a skimmer is to us.

  • 1989 J. M. Dillard Lost Years v. 116 J. M. Dillard bibliography

    Their parent had been killed many years before in a skimmer accident.

  • 1993 Science Fiction Studies Nov. 454

    BCP is a great way to be introduced to this amazingly broad sample of expert skimmers.

  • 1993 J. Brosnan Opoponax Invasion (1994) 40 John Brosnan bibliography

    The skimmers are low over the town and obviously carrying out a search.

  • 2000 White Dwarf May 29/1

    Despite the distinct advantage of all damaging hits only being glancing on fast moving skimmers, they should still seek cover to hide behind. Skimmers are fragile and even glances are dangerous to them.

Research requirements

antedating 1949

Earliest cite

W. Bade 'Lost Ulysses'

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1965 cite from Roger Zelazny's " . . . And Call Me Conrad".

Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from Anne McCaffrey's 1982 novel, "Crystal Singer"; Mike Christie confirmed the cite in a 1977 reprint of the original 1974 anthology appearance. Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from a reprint of Isaac Asimov's "Profession"; Mike Christie confirmed the cite in the original 1957 magazine appearance. Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from a reprint of Frank Javor's "Interview"; Mike Christie confirmed the cite in the original 1963 magazine appearance. Katrina Campbell submitted a cite from a reprint of Norman Spinrad's "A Thing of Beauty"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1973 first magazine appearance. Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a reprint of George R.R. Martin's "Guardians", and Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1981 first magazine appearance. Mike Christie submitted a 1949 cite from William Bade's "Lost Ulysses".

Last modified 2022-02-01 22:48:37
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.