Full record for ray-gun n.

Definition a hand-held device that can be made to emit rays, esp. destructive or harmful ones
OED requirements antedating 1930
Earliest cite John W. Campbell, 'The Black Star Passes'
Comment Cory Panshin located a usage in a reprint of E.E. Smith's "Skylark Three"; but Mike Christie discovered that this usage is not in the original 1930 magazine version.
Cory Panshin submitted a cite from a 1947 reprint of Manly Wade Wellman's 1931 "The Disc-Men of Jupiter".
Andrew May submitted a 1930 cite from John Campbell's "The Black Star Passes".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1945 reprint of "The Red Dimension" by Ed Earl Repp: this was originally published earlier in 1930 than the Campbell cite, so we would like to verify the cite in the first publication (Science Wonder Stories, January, 1930)

(Earliest cite in the OED: 1931)

Last modified 10 December, 2009

Citations for ray-gun n.

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1930 J. W. Campbell in Amazing Stories Q. Fall 505/2 Soon they saw a hand reaching out with a ray gun; then another hand with a different ray gun, from behind the silent engine; a sudden crash of metal, a groan and quiet.
1947 M. W. Wellman in Startling Stories May 86/1 ‘I wish I had a ray-gun!’ gritted out Duvelskoe, shaking his fist at the uncanny things outside.
1948 A. E. van Vogt Monster in T. Shippey Oxf. Bk. Sci. Fiction (1992) 157 The two-legged monster dissolved, writhing, in the beam of a ray gun.
1951 Marvel Sci. Stories May 128/1 Let's see yarns about vampires, ghouls, werewolves, and other assorted spooks, as well as ray guns, six-headed Martians, galactic wars, and warp drives.
1975 C. L. Moore Shambleau in L. Del Rey Best of C. L. Moore 35 It belonged to the type that frequents such places, those lawless men who ride the spaceways and live by the rule of the ray-gun, recklessly, warily outside the Patrol's jurisdiction.
1987 N. Spinrad Little Heroes (1989) 262 Like some unseen max metal gunfighter laughing as he fired his rayguns at her feet for the evil pleasure of making her dance.
1994 Sci. Fiction Age July 37/2 The Air Force guys never quite figured out the trick of making an effective raygun.
2001 Locus June 70/2 Worlds are colonized, civilisations fall, rayguns are used — but‥Alastair Reynolds is playing a more complex game‥. He is taking the stuff of space opera and remaking it into something new—something that doesn't eschew the pulpish romanticism of space opera's roots, but seeks to transform it into romanticism better suited to modern science fiction.