From Mandarin 太空 (tàikōng, “space”) + -naut, modelled after astronaut, cosmonaut, spationaut, etc. 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.
- Hyphenation: tai‧ko‧naut
taikonaut (plural taikonauts)
- A person who travels in space for the Chinese space program; a Chinese astronaut. [from 1998.]
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