sophont

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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.

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Noun[edit]

sophont (plural sophonts)

  1. (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?

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