bot n.

a robot

The more recent sense ‘an automated computer program, esp. one running on a network’ is not generally an SF use.


  • 1969 R. C. Meredith We All Died at Breakaway Station in Amazing Stories Jan. 130/2 page image Richard C. Meredith bibliography

    When they got my ship the only part of me that the 'bots were able to get into cold-sleep was my head, shoulders and a part of my spine.

  • 1977 G. Benford in Cosmos Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine May 25/1 Gregory Benford

    ‘What’s your name, little bot?’ The robot squats mutely. ‘Bot?’ Gerald asks. ‘Slang for robot. You ask him.’

  • 1982 A. Cole & C. Bunch Sten (1990) 79 Allan Cole Chris Bunch bibliography

    The warehouse…was a place that a human—on legal business—never had to visit as all functions and work were handled by bots, from tiny inventory clerks to giant, idiot-brained skip-loaders.

  • 1983 D. Brin Startide Rising 190 David Brin

    ‘I'll bet this will please Dr. Dart… Of course, the sensors might not be types he'd want. But the 'bot is still operational.’ Gillian examined the small robot-link screen.

  • 1984 D. Brin Practice Effect ii.i.23 David Brin bibliography

    Compared with some of the sophisticated machines Dennis had worked with, the exploration 'bot wasn’t very bright.

  • 1991 M. Weiss King's Test i.ii.8 Margaret Weis bibliography

    Yanking it off, he tossed it over his shoulder to the 'bot.

  • 1991 J. Varley Steel Beach (1993) 465 John Varley bibliography

    A few months back, I woke up and my mouth tasted like peppermint. I looked into it, turns out it’s a new sort of 'bot.

  • 1993 D. A. Smith In Cube v. 75

    Aren’t there dozens of ways to diddle a bot?

  • 1994 S. M. Baxter Ring (1996) xvi. 213 Stephen Baxter bibliography

    The craft from within the ice, dug up and splayed out against the surface by a team of autonomous 'bots, was like a bird, with night-dark wings a hundred yards long trailing back from a small central body.

  • 1996 T. Beaulieu et al. Mystery Sci. Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide 12/2

    The 'Bots try to figure out the movie. Joel explains that it’s enough that it got made at all. The Robots come up with a movie plot about a guy on a desert island with his two robots.

  • 1997 W. Shatner Delta Search (1997) 330 William Shatner

    He peered over and watched, waited until she was leaping over a ruined pile of laser-bots, just where the controls for the next blast door ought to be. He squeezed the small detonator in his hands… The explosion cleared the rest of the bots and jammed the blast door open permanently.

  • 1998 D. Brin Heaven's Reach 303 David Brin

    A formation of cop-bots swept eastwards at top speed, rushing around the next corner toward some noisy emergency.

  • 2004 P. F. Hamilton Pandora's Star vii. 166 Peter F. Hamilton

    Oscar Monroe had been on site for ten months, managing the crews as they crawled around the wormhole generator armed with screwdrivers, arrays, programs, and every conceivable type of bot.

Research requirements

antedating 1969

Earliest cite

in Richard Meredith's "We All Died at Breakaway Station"

Research History
Malcom Farmer submitted a cite from a 1988 reprint of Gregory Benford's story "Snatching the Bot"; Rick Hauptmann verified this in the 1986 first edition. Malcolm Farmer subsequently verified the cite in the original 1977 magazine version.
Enoch Forrester submitted a 1996 cite from the MST3K "Amazing Colossal Episode Guide".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1983 cite from David Brin's "Startide Rising".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1997 cite from William Shatner's "Delta Search Quest For Tomorrow".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Richard Meredith's "We All Died At Breakaway Station"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1969 first magazine appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a 1990 reprint of Allan Cole and Chris Bunch's 1982 "Sten".

This sense for "bot" added to the OED in September 2003, with an earliest cite of 1969

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.