Full record for alien n.

Definition an (intelligent) being from another planet
OED requirements interdating 1820-1920
Comment Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1977 reprint of Philip Barshovsky's story "One Prehistoric Night" from the 1934 Wonder Stories
Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1968 reprint of A.E. van Vogt's "The Cataaaaa"; Derek Hepburn verified this in the 1947 first edition.
Christopher Pound located some references to stories which use the word in the title: Mike Christie located one of them, a 1951 cite from J.T. McIntosh's story "When Aliens Meet".
Mark Olson submitted a 1942 cite from Hal Clement's "Impediment".
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1935 cite from Eando Binder's "The Robot Aliens".
Mark English submitted a cite from a reprint of an 1820 letter by Thomas Carlyle.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1931 cite from Nathan Schachner and Arthur L. Zagat's "Venus Mines, Incorporated". We would like to see cites from between 1820 and 1931.
Lerida Arnold submitted a cite from a 1920 reprint of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "A Princess of Mars: we would like to verify this in the magazine serialization (in All-Story magazine ca. 1912)

Earliest cite in the OED: 1953.

Last modified 14 January, 2010

Citations for alien n.

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1820 T. Carlyle in T. Carlyle & J. W. Carlyle Coll. Lett. (1970)I. 286 I am like a being thrown from another planet on this dark terrestrial ball, an alien, a pilgrim among its possessors.
1920 E. R. Burroughs Princess of Mars 98 Your position is a peculiar one‥you are a prisoner and yet you give commands which must be obeyed; you are an alien and yet you are a Tharkian chieftain; you are a midget and yet you can kill a mighty warrior with one blow of your fist.
1931 N. Schachner & A. L. Zagat Venus Mines, Incorporated in Wonder Stories Aug. 307/1 Arnim and Britt watched the ten-foot tall aliens stride across the short stretch of deck to the entrance lock of their own vessel. Around the waist of each a studded belt was clamped, its excresences showing where the individual gravity coils were inserted. Were it not for these the Martians would have been rising a hundred feet with each step, so small was the asteroid's attraction.
1931 N. Schachner & A.L. Zagat Venus Mines, Inc. in Wonder Stories Aug. 307/1 Arnim and Britt watched the ten-foot tall aliens stride across the short stretch of deck to the entrance lock of their own vessel. Around the waist of each a studded belt was clamped, its excrescences showing where the individual gravity coils were inserted. Were it not for these the Martians would have been rising a hundred feet with each step, so small was the asteroid's attraction.
1934 P. Barshovsky One Prehistoric Night in Wonder Stories Nov. 697/1 Nearby, a group of intelligent aliens were cutting small growth and testing them with many forms of apparatus.
1934 ‘P. Barshovsky’ in M. Ashley Hist. Sci. Fiction Mag. (1976)I. 179 Nearby, a group of these intelligent aliens were cutting small growths and testing them with many forms of apparatus.
1935 ‘E. Binder’ in Wonder Stories Feb. 1057/1 It is not for me to judge, nor to condemn, as to the manner in which the authorities acted when the Robot Aliens confronted human eyes, but I think that the mere reading of these facts will bring a flush of shame to many a man who had something to do with the welcome accorded our ambassadors from Mars.
1935 ‘E. Binder’ in Wonder Stories Feb. 1056/2 The Robot Alien managed to convey to me that they were astonished beyond all measure at the fear the earth-people showed from the first.
1942 ‘H. Clement’ in Astounding Sci. Fiction Aug. 108/2 Both aliens had seen him before, but only at a considerable distance. Talker's chief surprise at the human form was that a being should support a mass about four times his own, against the relatively enormous gravity of Earth, on but two legs—though the legs, it is true, resembled tree trunks when compared to the stalklike limbs of the visitors.
1947 A. E. van Vogt in Fantasy Bk. 1 41/2 When an alien arrives on an inhabited planet, there is usually only one way he can pass among the intelligent beings on that planet without being recognized for what he is.
1954 C. Oliver Friend to Man in W. F. Nolan Edge of Forever (1971) 111 The trouble is‥that you have a word, ‘alien,’ and no concept to go with it.
1966 S. Delany Babel-17 i. i. 10 It isn't a code, but rather an alien language.
1970 A. McCaffrey Ship who Sang (1991) i. 3 Helva scooted around in her shell‥studying her lessons in trajectory, propulsion techniques, computation, logistics, mental hygiene, basic alien psychology, philology.
1971 W. F. Nolan Edge of Forever 25 In the novel Chad's hero runs into humanoid aliens during his fishing jaunt in Colorado, and agrees to help them find a way back to their home planet.
1971 U. K. Le Guin Lathe of Heaven (1973) vii.98 There weren't any Aliens—were there?
1975 C. L. Moore Bright Illusion in L. del Rey Best of C. L. Moore (1978) 76 A world which it meant to have; a very alien world, he gathered, from the sort he knew. Peopled by alien creatures and built in other dimensions than those which formed his own universe.
1980 D. Brin Sundiver i.iii. 30 A tall alien stood in front of him.
1981 F. Vrazo Tigers in Orbit in O. Davis Omni Bk. of Space 341 At last, the ‘alien’ speaks.
1984 D. Brin Practice Effect i.iii.11 They stared at each other—Earthman and alien.
1984 J. Williamson Lifeburst 16 Starbird. Space alien discovered aboard drifting wreckage of Sun Fleet cruiserSpica. The creature was apparently intelligent and actively engaged in dismantling what was left of the ship.
1985 B. Hambly Ishmael ii.31 It took him a good fifteen minutes to get the alien slung over the saddle.
1989 D. Koontz Midnight i. xxx. 127 If the problem was aliens from another world, Father Castelli would not be protected.
1990 R. L. Forward Rocheworld 261 The red alien was bewildered.
1990 J. Tiptree, Jr. Color of Neanderthal Eyes 2 The aliens I was dealing with had complicated, irritable, niggling minds.
1991 M. Weiss King's Test i. ii. 8 The media ate this stuff up—vids of ghastly aliens flaming across the screens of billions of terrified galactic viewers.
1991 Locus Nov. 29/1 Except for the aliens, this could almost be a contemporary street kid's tale.
1991 A. D. Foster Cat.a.lyst xiii. 189 Soldiers descended from the ancient Incas, all of them armed to the teeth with weapons derived from an alien technology.
1991 Sci. Fiction Chron. May 24/1 A woman, carrying an alien child, is due to give birth.
1992 V. Vinge Fire upon Deep i. iv. 19 The troopers dashed forward, spaced in identity-preserving formations; perhaps they meant to take the alien alive.
1992 SFRA Rev. July–Aug.–Sept. 32 The alien‥that had traveled secretly in Ripley's ship, holds very little of the interest that was created in the first two movies.
1992 Sci. Fiction Age Nov. 12/2 The aliens have explained to Ed that the Earth is going to be destroyed.
1995 C. Carter Truth is out There: Official Guide to The X Files Introd. 5 What follows will trace how The X-Files was conceived and created as well as the process that allows a group of talented and dedicated producers, writers, directors, actors, and technical wizards to generate two dozen hours or more each year of contact with aliens, poltergeists, genetically engineered deviants, and even old-fashioned monsters—all with meticulous care and (in what has proven to be a constant struggle) within the constraints of a television budget.