[ spoo t-nik, spuht-; Russian spoot-nyik ]
/ ˈspʊt nɪk, ˈspʌt-; Russian ˈsput nyɪk /


(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

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for sputniks

  • I can almost remember the atomic bomb, and I sure as hell remember the sputniks.

    This Crowded Earth|Robert Bloch

British Dictionary definitions for sputniks

/ (ˈspʊtnɪk, ˈspʌt-) /


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 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

Culture definitions for sputniks

[ (spoot-niks, sput-niks) ]

A series of Soviet satellites launched in 1957 and in following years. These were the first artificial satellites.

notes for Sputniks

The appearance of Sputnik stimulated a great deal of effort in the education of scientists and engineers in the United States. This period is now referred to as the post-Sputnik boom.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.