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sputnik

[spoo t-nik, spuht-; Russian spoot-nyik]
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noun
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) any of a series of Soviet earth-orbiting satellites: Sputnik I was the world's first space satellite.
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Origin of sputnik

1957; < Russian spútnik satellite, traveling companion, equivalent to s- together, with + put’ way, route + -nik agent suffix (cf. -nik)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sputnik

rocket, moon, spacecraft, luna, sputnik, asteroid, ancillary

Examples from the Web for sputnik

Contemporary Examples of sputnik

Historical Examples of sputnik

  • But that was after Sputnik, and we didn't dare disregard any hints from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

    The Time Traders

    Andre Norton


British Dictionary definitions for sputnik

Sputnik

noun
  1. any of a series of unmanned Soviet satellites, Sputnik 1 (launched in 1957) being the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth
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Word Origin for Sputnik

C20: from Russian, literally: fellow traveller, from s- with + put path + -nik suffix indicating agent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sputnik

n.

"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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper