- (sometimes initial capital letter) any of a series of Soviet earth-orbiting satellites: Sputnik I was the world's first space satellite.
Origin of sputnik
Examples from the Web for sputnik
Tortoise disqualified for technical reasons, first place awarded to Sputnik hare.Why Does the USA Depend on Russian Rockets to Get Us Into Space?
P. J. O’Rourke
June 22, 2014
That is the red thread of continuity, which runs from Decline 1.0 with Sputnik to Decline 5.0 with the post-crash.Sunday Q&A: Josef Joffe on the Myth of American Decline
November 17, 2013
The Soviet Union has launched Sputnik and communism is taking hold across eastern Europe.This Week’s Hot Reads: July 8, 2013
July 8, 2013
That Redstone rocket was meant to boost American morale after the Soviets launched Sputnik.Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years, 100 Facts
February 1, 2013
Sputnik had two, connected consequences for the United States, both of them essential for the world we now live in.Obama's State of the Union Challenge
January 5, 2011
But that was after Sputnik, and we didn't dare disregard any hints from the other side of the Iron Curtain.The Time Traders
- any of a series of unmanned Soviet satellites, Sputnik 1 (launched in 1957) being the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth
Word Origin and History for sputnik
"artificial satellite," 1957 (launched Oct. 4, 1957), from Russian sputnik "satellite," literally "traveling companion," from Old Church Slavonic supotiniku, from su- "with, together" + poti "way, journey" (from PIE root *pent- "to go, pass;" see find (v.)) + agent suffix -nik.
The electrifying impact of the launch on the West can be gauged by the number of new formations in -nik around this time (the suffix had been present in a Yiddish context for at least a decade before); e.g. the dog launched aboard Sputnik 2 (Nov. 2, 1957), which was dubbed muttnik by the "Detroit Free Press," etc., and the U.S. satellite which failed to reach orbit in 1957 (because the Vanguard rocket blew up on the launch pad) derided as a kaputnik (in the "Daily Express"), a flopnik ("Daily Herald"), a puffnik ("Daily Mail"), and a stayputnik ("News Chronicle").