"Planet" as a verb: a new entry in the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

There are many terms from classic and modern SF that remain unresearched, and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction will be continually updated, especially as additional resources are put online. Boing Boing is syndicating new entries from the HDSF on a regular basis. (Read the series introduction.)

Planet, v.

Time for some space travel!

As we've previously discussed, people sometimes get upset about verbing nouns, but it makes sense that when you arrive at a planet, you would…planet it. There's already the parallel verb land, used of a (nautical) ship, which dates from the 13th century, and extended to refer to airplanes by the 1910s. Planet has two closely related senses, 'to arrive at a planet' and 'to land on a planet', for sensible reasons (large sea ships don't actually beach themselves when they land; presumably most large space ships would just go into orbit around a planet.) If anything, it's a little surprising that this word doesn't appear until the mid-1940s; it was a favorite of George O. Smith, an electronics engineer whose science fiction was so focused on technical problems that he never really got around to plot or characterization, but whose popularity at that time may have helped the word to catch on.