New Online Science Fiction Dictionary Pushes Back Origin of the Word ‘Robot’ to 1920

“Fans of science fiction learned last week that the word ‘robot’ was first used in 1920 — a full three years earlier than originally thought,” according to a blog post at

They call it “a major SciFi discovery hiding in plain sight”:

The “massively important yet obvious” change in date was confirmed with a search of the Internet Archive, which has a digitized first edition of the Czech play, R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots, published in 1920. There on the title page, hiding in plain sight in an English-language subtitle to the work, is the earliest known use of the word “robot.”
This important piece of information is one of many little-known facts captured in the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. The project was completed this year by historian Jesse Sheidlower, who credits two things that enabled him to publish this project, decades in the making. “One, we had a pandemic so

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