Full record for death ray n.

Definition a destructive beam of energy; a device that generates such a beam.
OED requirements antedating 1903
Earliest cite George Griffith, The World Masters
Comment Roberto Labanti submitted a 1915 cite from Arthur B. Reeve's "The Exploits of Elaine. A Detective Novel" (serial, Indianapolis Star, 1915)
Malcolm Farmer submitted a 1903 cite for "death-ray" from George Griffith's "The World Masters"

Previous earliest cite in the OED Database: 1919

Last modified 22 September, 2010

Citations for death ray n.

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1915 A. B. Reeve Exploits of Elaine in Indianapolis Star 28 Feb. (unpaginated electronic copy) Chapter IX— The Death Ray
1981 J. Pournelle Decisive Frontier in O. Davis Omni Bk. of Space 283 The best-known and most often demonstrated space-weapon systems are beam weapons—the ‘death rays’ of H.G. Wells.
1998 C. Pellegrino Afterword in C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek: Next Generation: Dyson Sphere (1999) 219 Riding an antimatter rocket is like riding a giant death ray bomb: you want to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the engine.