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See also: martian



A photograph of the Martian surface (adjective sense 1) taken on 10 March 1997 by the Hubble Space Telescope

From Latin Mārtius (of or relating to the planet Mars) +‎ -an (adjective-forming suffix).[1] The word is cognate with Middle English marcien, marcyan, mercien (subject to the influence or power of the planet Mars; relating to the god Mars, that is, warlike),[2] Middle French martien (Martian) (modern French martien),[1] French Martien (imaginary inhabitant of Mars; any extraterrestrial), Italian marziano, Latin Mārtiānus (Martian), Portuguese marciano, Spanish marciano.



Martian (not comparable)

  1. Of or relating to the planet Mars, or (science fiction) its imagined inhabitants. [from 19th c.]
    Synonyms: Arean, areo-
    • 1873 July, “The Planet Mars: An Essay by a Whewellite”, in The Cornhill Magazine, volume XXVIII, number 163, London: Smith, Elder & Co., [], →OCLC, pages 96–97:
      The direct heat of the sun, shining through so thin an atmosphere, must be considerable wherever the sun is at a sufficient elevation; and of course the very tenuity of the air renders vaporization so much the easier, for the boiling point (and consequently all temperatures of evaporation at given rates) would be correspondingly lowered. Accordingly, during the greater part of the Martian day, the hoar frost and whatever light snow might have fallen on the preceding evening would be completely dissolved away, and thus the ruddy earth or the greenish ice-masses of the so-called oceans would be revealed to the terrestral observer.
    • 1910 September, H[enry] H[aven] Windsor, editor, Popular Mechanics, volume 14, number 3, Chicago, Ill.: Popular Mechanics Co., →OCLC, page 456, column 1:
      Prof. Percival Lowell, the eminent Martian astronomer, said in a recent interview in New York: "The Martian canals are not Panama canals. The word 'canals' you know, really means 'lines.' [...]"
    • 1920 October, Austin C. Lescarboura, “Wireless Fakes and Fakers”, in H[ugo] Gernsback, editor, Radio World, volume 2, number 4, New York, N.Y.: Experimenter Publishing Co., →OCLC, page 217, columns 2–3:
      Not wishing to lose this great opportunity of being the first to receive Martian signals, we 'phoned to the manager to come over immediately and verify our "startling" discovery. [...] A day later a lineman in the employ of a stock quotation ticker agency happened to be working on the roof. [...] [H]e suggested that we might possibly be troubled with induction from these wires, and that our lead-in would perhaps be better if it ran along the outside of the building. Troubled with induction! In truth, that was the very thing which we had mistaken for Martian signals.
    • 2004 January 8, Mark Pilkington, “Martian spoken here”, in The Guardian[1], London, archived from the original on 12 September 2014:
      She [Catherine Elise Muller] claimed her astral body was transported to the planet, so she was able to draw detailed Martian landscapes and to speak and write its language.
    • 2019, Justin Filiberto, Susanne P. Schwenzer, “Introduction to Volatiles in the Martian Crust”, in Justin Filiberto, Susanne P. Schwenzer, editors, Volatiles in the Martian Crust, Amsterdam, Kidlington, Oxford: Elsevier, →ISBN, section 1.1.1 (Martian Meteorites), page 4:
      Martian meteorites (Fig. 1.3) are pieces of Mars that have been blasted off the surface, hurtled through space, and delivered to Earth [...]. We know they are from Mars because the noble gases, carbon, and nitrogen measured in shock melt pockets in certain meteorites have the same relative elemental abundances and similar isotopic ratios as the Martian atmosphere—a unique fingerprint [...].
  2. (astrology) Pertaining to the astrological influence of the planet Mars; aggressive, bellicose. [from 14th c.]
    Synonym: Martial
    • 1901, C. de Saint-Germain, “The Planets”, in Practical Astrology: A Simple Method of Casting Horoscopes: [], Chicago, Ill.: Laird & Lee, publishers, →OCLC, pages 83–84:
      [T]he majority of human beings born under the influence of Mars—the Martians (or "Martials")—are heavily built but physically strong. [...] [T]hey are easily angered, and, for the time being, forget everything in the excess of their violence. The worst Martian type will commit murder before he knows it.
  3. (obsolete) Pertaining to battle or war; martial, military. [15th–17th c.]

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Terms derived from Martian (adjective)



Martians (noun sense 2) depicted in an illustration by Frank R. Paul accompanying a reprint of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds (1898) in the August 1927 issue of the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories

Martian (plural Martians)

  1. (astrology) A person under the astrological influence of the planet Mars.
    • 1901, C. de Saint-Germain, “The Planets”, in Practical Astrology: A Simple Method of Casting Horoscopes: [], Chicago, Ill.: Laird & Lee, publishers, →OCLC, pages 83–84:
      [T]he majority of human beings born under the influence of Mars—the Martians (or "Martials")—are heavily built but physically strong. [...] A male Martian is generally a great favorite with the ladies and is apt to be rather quick and unscrupulous in his courtship methods. He is not a sentimental lover. A bad Martian is a loud, fatiguing talker and a braggard.
  2. (chiefly science fiction) An inhabitant of the planet Mars.
    Synonyms: (one sense) little green man, marsling, Marsling
    • 1877 October, Wentworth Erck, “The Moons of Mars”, in The Cornhill Magazine, volume XXXVI, number 214, London: Smith, Elder & Co., [], →OCLC, page 424:
      Thus she [one of the moons of Mars] has a disc, always on this assumption be it remembered, equal to about a quarter of our moon's; and being illuminated by the sun, like the other moon, with a light varying from one-half to one-third that which he pours on the earth, it follows that the light she reflects to Martians, or would reflect to them if there were any such beings, varies from one-eighth to one-twelfth of that which we receive from the full moon.
    • 1895–1897, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “The Cylinder Unscrews”, in The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, published 1898, →OCLC, book I (The Coming of the Martians), page 28:
      Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of their appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedge-like lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, [...]
    • 1913 November 8, “Signals from Mars”, in The North-China Herald and Supreme Court & Consular Gazette: The Weekly Edition of the North-China Daily News, volume CIX (New Series), number 2413, Shanghai: Printed and published at the offices of the North-China Daily News & Herald, Ld., →OCLC, page 399, column 2:
      [...] M. le Coultre, the distinguished astronomer of Geneva, has once more declared that the Martians are trying to signal to us. [...] How long M. le Coultre's suggestion will stand before it goes the way of other similar conjectures now exploded, no one can say.
    • 1921 May, Orison Swett Marden, “Are You a Fish Out of Water?”, in Orison Swett Marden, editor, The New Success: Marden’s Magazine, volume V, number 5, New York, N.Y.: The Lowrey-Marden Corporation, →OCLC, page 54:
      If the Martian understood and could analyze the character of men and women, he would find in shops, factories, mills, schools, offices, in business, in the professions and arts, multitudes of men and women in the unhappy position of the fish out of water. Floundering hopelessly in vocations for which they have no aptitude, unless some merciful wave carry them to their native element, the place for which nature especially equipped them, their lives will be wrecked.
    • 1923, Song Ong Siang, “The Third Decade (1839–49)”, in One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore: [], London: John Murray, [], →OCLC, page 57:
      Like a philosopher, or rather the hermit crab, he [Hoo Keng Tuck] lives in complete retirement, looking out occasionally from his coign of vantage upon his luckless compatriots who are struggling to make this world a better place to live in for themselves and their children, pretty much as a Martian might watch the social activities of the earth's inhabitants.
    • 1982, Malva E. Filer, “A Change of Skin and the Shaping of a Mexican Time”, in Robert Brody, Charles Rossman, editors, Carlos Fuentes: A Critical View (Texas Pan American Series), Austin, Tx.: University of Texas Press, →ISBN, page 128:
      However, despite a declared interest in Mexico's Indian past, he feels that his country's uneducated and mostly Indian citizens are like creatures of another species. To then, "we are like Martians," Javier says, "We don't speak as they do or think as they do … If we do see them, it's like the zoo … We are their enemies and they know it" [...].
    • 2013 August 24, “Bagehot” [pseudonym], “Go away, we need you: In Britain, xenophilia runs almost as deep as xenophobia”, in The Economist[2], volume 408, number 8850, archived from the original on 22 August 2013:
      A Martian who landed in Britain in the past few weeks—assuming he managed to get a visa—would take it for a place that dislikes visitors. [...] And yet, if he lingered, the Martian might find himself being asked how health care was organised on his planet, or how its retailers were coping with the internet.
    1. (rare, specifically) A male Martian.
      Coordinate term: Martianess

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  1. (science fiction) A hypothetical language spoken on Mars.
    • 2004 January 8, Mark Pilkington, “Martian spoken here”, in The Guardian[3], London, archived from the original on 12 September 2014:
      Although impressed by [Catherine Elise] Muller as a person, [Théodore] Flournoy regarded her experiences as a marvel of psychology rather than spiritualism. One of his key findings was that, while Muller's Martian had a consistent 23 letter alphabet, grammar and syntax, it was in fact a twisted variant of French.
    • 2017, BioWare, Mass Effect: Andromeda (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →OCLC, PC, scene: Tempest:
      Suvi: Between the Remnant city, Meridian, and however the Scourge fits in... pardon my Martian, but it's all weird as shit.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Martian, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2000.
  2. ^ marcian, adj.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 27 November 2018.

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