non-human adj.

= alien n.


  • 1930 W. O. Stapledon Last and First Men viii. 164 Olaf Stapledon

    To describe the biology, psychology and history of a whole world in a few pages is as difficult as it would be to give the Martians themselves in the same compass a true idea of man. Encyclopædias, libraries, would be needed in either case. Yet, somehow, I must contrive to suggest the alien sufferings and delights, and the many aeons of struggle, which went to the making of these strange nonhuman intelligences, in some ways so inferior yet in others definitely superior to the human species which they encountered.

  • 1937 O. Stapledon Star Maker (1987) 79 Olaf Stapledon

    I must now try to give some idea of the main types of these ‘non-human’ intelligent worlds.

  • 1937 O. Stapledon Star Maker (1987) 136 Olaf Stapledon

    Of the eugenical enterprise of these worlds I shall report little, because much of it would be unintelligible without a minute knowledge of the biological and biochemical nature of each of these non-human world-populations.

  • 1942 ‘A. MacDonald’ Beyond This Horizon in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 79/1 page image Robert A. Heinlein Anson MacDonald bibliography

    The distribution of life through the physical universe, for example, and the possibility that other, nonhuman intelligences existed somewhere. If there were such, then it was possible, with an extremely high degree of mathematical probability, that some of them, at least, were more advanced than men.

  • 1954 R. A. Heinlein in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction May 43 Robert A. Heinlein

    The court takes judicial notice that members of non-human races may give evidence. But nothing has been presented to show that this particular extra-terrestrial is competent.

  • 1954 R. A. Heinlein Star Beast (1978) 64 Robert A. Heinlein

    The presence of Dr. Ftaeml on Earth had tipped Greenberg that something was up with a non-humanoid people…non-human in mentality, creatures so different psychologically that communication was difficult.

  • 1956 R. A. Heinlein Double Star in Astounding Science Fiction Apr. 143/2 Robert A. Heinlein

    I was knocked out the first time when we finally put the eetees—Venusians and Martians and Outer Jovians—into the Grand Assembly. But the non-human peoples are still there and I came back.

  • 1982 I. Asimov Foundation's Edge 284 Isaac Asimov

    Janov, you want a nonhuman intelligence and you will have one.

  • 1992 V. Vinge Fire upon Deep ii. xxviii. 208 Vernor Vinge bibliography

    In all his life in the Slow Zone, he had known three nonhuman races.

  • 2020 E. Bear Machine i. 9 Elizabeth Bear bibliography

    You probably wouldn’t be surprised by how often people—even modern rightminded people, even nonhuman people—fail to do what’s sensible.

Research requirements

antedating 1930

Earliest cite

Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1978 reprint of Robert Heinlein's "Star Beast," which Edward Bornstein verified in the 1954 first edition.
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1987 reprint of Olaf Stapledon's 1937 "Star Maker".
Imran Ghory submitted a cite from a 1995 reprint of Isaac Asimov's "Evidence"; Mike Christie verified it in the 1946 original appearance.
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a reprint of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation's Edge"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1982 first edition.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Robert Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1942 first magazine appearance.
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1931 reprint of Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men"; we would like to verify this in the 1930 first publication.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2020 cite from Elizabeth Bear.

The OED has "non-human" cites back to 1839 for the sense "not of the human race; not a human being". To distinguish an sf sense from this it is probably necessary to focus on cites that use "non-human" to refer to other sapient aliens. For example, here is the cite Enoch Forrester sent in from "Star Maker": "I must now try to give some idea of the main types of these 'non-human' intelligent worlds."

OED entry updated in December 2003 with the adjective sense widened to include the SF usage.

Last modified 2021-04-17 03:16:29
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.