From Ancient Greek σοφός (sophós, “wise”) + ὤν (ṓn, “on”), present participle of εἰμί (eimí, “being, existing, essence”). First used in the 1966 works by Poul Anderson, coined by his wife Karen Anderson.
sophont (plural sophonts)
- (chiefly science fiction) An intelligent being; a being with a base reasoning capacity roughly equivalent to or greater than that of a human being. The word does not apply to machines unless they have true artificial intelligence, rather than mere processing capacity.
1966, Poul Anderson, Trouble Twisters:
- Likewise with the psychology of intelligent species. Most sophonts indeed possess basic instincts which diverge more or less from man's. With those of radically alien motivations we have little contact.
- 1980, David Brin, Sundiver, p50
- I'm honored to meet a sophont of the Soro line in person!
- 1992, Vernor Vinge, A Fire Upon the Deep, Tor Books, p406
- Evil, they argued, could only have meaning on smaller scales, in the hurt that one sophont does to another.
- 1997, Spider Robinson, Lifehouse, Baen Books, p2
- Only one sophont appeared to be involved—and not a sophisticated one.
- 2004, Howard Tayler Schlock Mercenary, Mar. 28, 2004, web-comic / self-published
- Like most sensible sophonts, they invented civilization. With civilization came civility, civil service, and of course civil war.
- 2007, Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary, Nov. 30, 2007, web-comic / self-published
- As I understand it, he sought to avoid turning one-point-six trillion terran sophonts into undead, war-mongering super-soldiers.
- 2009, Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary, Oct. 11, 2009, web-comic / self-published
- Reflection on the nature of sapience, and the ubiquity of violence among sophonts?
- sophont at the OED Science Fiction Citations Project
- Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 194