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From Russian спу́тник (spútnik, fellow traveller), from с- (s-, with, together) + пу́тник (pútnik, traveller), from путь (putʹ, way, journey) + agent suffix -ник (-nik).


  • IPA(key): /ˈspʊtnɪk/, /ˈspʌtnɪk/


sputnik (plural sputniks)

  1. Any of a series of Soviet unmanned space satellites, especially the first one in 1957.
    • 2011 January 25, Barack Hussein Obama II, Jon Favreau (speechwriter), State of the Union, United States House of Representatives:
      Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

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