death ray n.
a destructive beam of energy; a device that generates such a beam
In 1896 quotation, referring literally to the rays of the sun.
[1896 North American (Philadelphia) 11 Aug. 5/1 (headline)
Old Sol’s death rays.]
Those who were out of reach of the terrible death-rays saw six long guns rise from the masked batteries.
Masters of the World in Liverpool Weekly Courier 14 June 7/2
Chapter IX: The Death Ray
Exploits of Elaine in Indianapolis Star 28 Feb. (unpaginated electronic copy)
The old style warfare, while much slower than the modern way of spreading destruction from the air by means of the death ray, was far less merciful.
Colloidal Nemesis in Amazing Stories Dec. 803/2
‘Then you have indeed devised one of those “death-ray” machines which we read of in pseudo-scientific fiction!’ ‘No, Dexter, it is by no means a death-ray. And I dislike to call it a ray. The wave which it emits is so far departed from the light-spectrum that such nomenclature would be incorrect.’
Ultra-Gamma Wave in Amazing Stories May 47/2
He fired again and again. Soon the Death Ray apparatus was a melted pile of steaming junk.
Quadriopticon in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction 110
There was a spurt of smoke and down he went. ‘Death ray’, or Laser beam, or whatever—line it up, press the stud, and anyone on the far end quit the party with a hole burned in him.
Glory Road in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Aug. 101/2
The best-known and most often demonstrated space-weapon systems are beam weapons—the ‘death rays’ of H.G. Wells.
Decisive Frontier in Omni Nov. 147/3
Riding an antimatter rocket is like riding a giant death ray bomb: you want to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the engine.
Afterword in C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek: Next Generation: Dyson Sphere (1999) 219
I must turn that aggression against him, like a superhero reflecting an opponent’s powerful death-ray right back into the villain’s own eyes.
For Richer for Poorer xxi. 291
George Griffith, The World Masters
Research HistoryRoberto Labanti submitted a 1915 cite from Arthur B. Reeve's "The Exploits of Elaine. A Detective Novel" (serial, Indianapolis Star, 1915)
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1903 cite for "death-ray" from George Griffith's "The World Masters"; Simon Koppel found a 1902 version of this from its original newspaper serialization.
Previous earliest cite in the OED Database: 1919
Last modified 2021-03-29 23:53:38
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.