Full record for little green man n.

Definition an imaginary inhabitant of outer space; an imaginary person of peculiar appearance
OED requirements antedating 1946
Comment There is an OED citation from 1906, from Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill", but it refers to an actual person tattooed green. Cites from the first half of the twentieth century and before tend to use the phrase to refer to fairies, leprechauns etc.; John Eggeling submitted the title of an 1895 book, "The Little Green Man. A Fairy Tale" by "F.M. Allen" (Edmund Downey). Alistair Durie submitted a 1940 cite from an author's self-profile written by Robert Bloch, in a SF magazine but where the expression refers to a mischievous gremlin.

Cites referring to extraterrestrial beings:
Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1963 reprint of Robert Heinlein's "Time for the Stars"; Andrew Dalke verified it in the 1956 first edition. Jim Landau suggested locating a cite in Fredric Brown's "Martians, Go Home!"; Mike Christie located a cite in the 1954 first appearance. Derek Hepburn submitted a 1953 cite from Noel Loomis' "Little Green Man". James Gunn suggested and Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1951 cite from Mack Reynolds' "The Case of the Little Green Man". Dennis Lien identified and Jeff Prucher located a 1949 cite from Fredric Brown's "Mouse". Fred Galvin submitted a 1948 cite from a letter by Rick Sneary to Startling Stories. Fred Galvin suggested the story "Mayaya's Little Green Men" by Harold Lawlor, and Alistair Durie submitted cites from this story's 1946 first publication.

Earliest cite in the OED: 1961.

Last modified 22 October, 2011

Citations for little green man n.

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1895 ‘F. M. Allen’ Little Green Man title of book The Little Green Man.
1940 R. Bloch in Fantastic Adventures Apr. 89 And yet I insist on writing fantastic fiction. I would write more, if it wasn't for the littlegreen men that run out of the woodwork and pull down my socks every time I sit at the typewriter.I have managed to fool these fellows by not wearing socks, but lately they've taken to tugging atmy trousers instead.
1946 H. Lawlor Mayaya's Little Green Men in Weird Tales Nov. 38/1 And that was when she said the strange thing. She laughed throatily, ‘Oh, the little green men told me.’The little green men! Well, we didn't think it so strange at the time. I thought it was just a phrase, a gag, one of those things you say.
1948 Startling Stories July 126/2 Well must run now, the little green men have my dinner, and THEIR EATING IT!
1948 N. B. Wilkinson in Astounding Sci. Fiction July 42/2 No little green men will be driving you toward the stars.
1949 F. Brown in Thrilling Wonder Stories June 91/1 ‘Don't know what they have in mind unless to bomb the park, people and all, if little green men come out of that thing with ray guns and start killing everybody. Then the bombers could finish off whoever's left.’ But no little green men came out of the cylinder.
1951 M. Reynolds Case of Little Green Men 17 Maddigan twisted his beefy shoulders. ‘Possibly the flying saucers; there are as many different opinions on that phenomenon as there have been saucers sighted. Possibly they arent [sic] extra-terrestrial at all, but even if they're not, it doesn't mean that we haven't had, or do not have now, visitors among us.’‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Why should these little green men want to come to earth?’ Maddigan waggled a finger at me. ‘I am disappointed in you, Mr. Knight,’ he said peevishly. ‘This is a subject in which you are little versed. You have admitted almost complete ignorance, but still you are contemptuous. You say jokingly, “little green men”, and your tone of voice implies that the very thought of alien life is ridiculous. Yet you have no evidence to support your prejudice.’
1953 N. Loomis in Dynamic Sci. Fiction Mar. 69/1 The little green man with the pink eyebrows and the peacock feather tail appeared upon the porcelain bench in the chemical laboratory.
1954 F. Brown in Astounding Sci. Fiction Sept. 12/1 The Martians really were little green men.
1956 R. A. Heinlein Time for Stars 156 How does it feel to be a little green man in a flying saucer?
1969 M. Z. Bradley Brass Dragon (1980) iii. 60 So scratch the mysterious eye of the idol of the Great God Foofooroney, complete with sinister Chinamen or lascars or little green men.
2004 R. Bloch Fantastic Adventures Apr. 89 And yet I insist on writing fantastic fiction. I would write more, if it wasn't for the little green men that run out of the woodwork and pull down my socks every time I sit at the typewriter. I have managed to fool these fellows by not wearing socks, but lately they've taken to tugging at my trousers instead.