The term was coined on 19 May 1998 by Chiew Lee Yih (趙裡昱 (trad.) / 赵里昱 (simpl.) / pinyin: Zhào Lǐyù) from Malaysia, who used it first in newsgroups. Almost simultaneously, Chen Lan coined it for use in the Western media based on Mandarin (太空 tàikōng), space. (Source: Mail & Guardian) This follows the pattern established by the terms cosmonaut, astronaut and spationaut (which share the -naut suffix) for having different terms for space workers denoting country of origin.
- Hyphenation: tai‧ko‧naut
taikonaut (plural taikonauts)
- A person who travels in space for the Chinese space program; a Chinese astronaut.
2003, Peter Schwartz, Inevitable Surprises, page x:
- The past decade has seen remarkable events and changes: ... The Columbia disaster and a Chinese taikonaut in orbit
"Taikonaut" at Word Spy: http://www.wordspy.com/words/taikonaut.asp