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Terra (planet Earth) +‎ -form (having the form of). Coined by American science fiction author Jack Williamson in his 1942 novella Collision Orbit.


terraform (third-person singular simple present terraforms, present participle terraforming, simple past and past participle terraformed)

  1. (science fiction) To transform the atmosphere (or biosphere) of another planet into one having the characteristics of Earth.
    • 1942 July, Williamson, Jack, “Collision Orbit”, in Astounding Science-Fiction, volume 29, number 5, page 82:
      He had been the original claimant of Obania, forty years ago; and Drake was the young spatial engineer he employed to terraform the little rock, only two kilometers through—by sinking a shaft to its heart for the paragravity installation, generating oxygen and water from mineral oxides, releasing absorptive gases to trap the feeble heat of the far-off Sun.