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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.
sophont (plural sophonts)
- (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, Anderson, Poul, 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.
- 1997, Spider Robinson, Lifehouse, Baen Books, page 2:
- Only one sophont appeared to be involved—and not a sophisticated one.
- Jeff Prucher, editor (2007), “sophont”, in Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 194.
- Jesse Sheidlower, editor (2001–2021), “sophont”, in Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.