Earthlings are inhabitants of the planet Earth. They are also known as Terrans or Gaians. As no extraterrestrial life has been discovered, all known forms of life in the Universe are earthlings.


Historically, the term earthling referred to a mortal inhabitant of the Earth as opposed to spiritual or divine entities. In Early Modern English, the word was used with the intention of contrasting "earth" with "heaven", and so presenting man as an inhabitant of the sublunary sphere, as opposed to heavenly creatures or deities.[1] The derivation from the noun earth by means of the suffix -ling is already seen in Old English yrþling, in the meaning "ploughman". The sense of "inhabitant of earth" is first attested in the 1590s.[2] Its use in science fiction dates to 1949, in Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein.

The word human has the same imposed meaning, since it originates from a Proto-Indo-European word *ǵʰmṓ "earthling" < *dʰéǵʰōm "earth". Compare Latin homo "human" and humus "earth, soil".

Modern use

Its modern use in science fiction literature contrasts Earth (the planet) with outer space or hypothetical other planets with sapient life. The term was often used in 1950s science fiction film and novels by aliens to express a disdainful or patronizing tone towards creatures from Earth. The meaning "creature from planet Earth" in the context of space travel may be extended to non-human species, as in "Russia fetes dog Laika, first earthling in space".[3]

The literary effect aimed for is a distancing effect, inviting the readers to contemplate their own species as it might be seen from an external point of view. There is also a belittling effect, in parallel with the use of the -ling suffix in such diminutives as duckling and gosling. Especially in 1950s science fiction, use of the term is a conscious reversal of common assumptions of anthropocentrism or human exceptionalism, and may be an example of an exonym.

In some science fiction media (such as the Star Trek franchise and the 2014 movie Guardians of the Galaxy) the term Terran is used as a term for humans, stemming from terra, the Latin word for Earth. In the original run of the BBC series Doctor Who, the phrase tellurian is used.

See also


  1. ^ Thomas Nashe, Christ's Tears (1593, 1613), p. 124: "Wee (of all earthlings) are Gods vtmost subiects.";
    Drummond of Hawthornden, Poems (1711), p. 31 (written ca. 1630): "Nature gaz'd on with such a curious eye, That earthlings oft her deem'd a deity."
    Cited after Oxford English Dictionary.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "earthling". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  3. ^ Solovyov, Dmitry; Pearce, Tim (ed.) (11 April 2008). "Russia fetes dog Laika, first earthling in space". Reuters.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
Baby Universal

"Baby Universal" is a song by Tin Machine, released as the second single from their Tin Machine II album in October 1991.

The single release was backed with tracks recorded at the band's BBC session recorded for Mark Goodier's radio show on 13 August 1991, and a live appearance on the BBC's Top of the Pops.

Bowie re-recorded this track in 1996 for his 1997 album Earthling, but the track was not released on the album.

Corpus Earthling

"Corpus Earthling" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 18 November 1963, during the first season.

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David Bowie (often referred to as David Bowie Box or Bowie Box Set) is a box set released by Sony Music Entertainment and Columbia Records. The box set includes expanded versions of all Sony-owned albums by David Bowie: Outside, Earthling, Hours, Heathen and Reality (The three albums - Outside, Earthling, and Hours were originally issued on Virgin Records in America, but released by BMG internationally).

Earthling (Fringe)

"Earthling" is the sixth episode of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe's second season. The episode followed the Fringe team's investigation into random people mysteriously disintegrating into ash, a case which Agent Broyles had become deeply obsessed with in the past.

It was co-written by J.H. Wyman and Jeff Vlaming, while Jon Cassar served as the director. The episode first aired on November 5, 2009 in the United States on the Fox network. An estimated 4.86 million viewers tuned in, contributing to a new ratings low for the series. The episode received generally mixed reviews, though multiple reviewers highlighted the episode's special effects. The VFX production team received a nomination at the 8th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards.

Earthling (album)

Earthling (stylised as EART HL I NG) is the 20th studio album by English recording artist David Bowie. It was originally released in February 1997 on Arista Records. The album showcases an electronica-influenced sound partly inspired by the industrial and drum and bass culture of the 1990s. It was the first album Bowie self-produced since his 1974 album Diamond Dogs.

Earthling (band)

Earthling is a trip hop band from Bristol, England. It is composed of rapper Mau and producer Tim Saul, with multi-instrumentalist Andy Keep often contributing.

Earthling (disambiguation)

An Earthling is an inhabitant of the planet Earth.

Earthling or Earthlings may also refer to:

Earthling (album), a 1997 album by David Bowie

Earthlings (album), a 2008 album by Chrome Hill

Earthling (band), a band from Bristol, England

Earthlings?, a band from Joshua Tree, California

The Earthlings, a band based in Chichester, England

Earthlings (film), a 2005 animal rights documentary

Earthling (film), a 2010 film

Earthlings, original code-name for The L Word television series

"Earthling" (Fringe), a 2009 episode of the television series Fringe

The Earthling, a 1980 drama film starring William Holden and Rick Schroder

Earthling Publications, an American small press

Earthling (film)

Earthling is the 2010 sci-fi film by Clay Liford starring Rebecca Spence, Peter Greene and William Katt in lead roles.

Earthling Publications

Earthling Publications is an American small press run by Paul Miller and specialising in limited edition books in the horror and dark fantasy genres.

In 2003, Earthling won the Horror Writers Association Specialty Press Award.

Earthling Tour

The David Bowie Earthling Tour opened on 7 June 1997 at Flughafen Blankensee in Lübeck, Germany continuing through Europe, North America before reaching a conclusion in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 7 November 1997.

Earthling in the City

Earthling in the City is a 6-track promotional CD by David Bowie that was distributed by GQ magazine with their November 1997 issue. The disc is largely made up of live performances and remixes of songs drawn from Bowie's albums Black Tie White Noise, Outside, and Earthling.

I'm Afraid of Americans

"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a single by David Bowie from the 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, was originally written during Bowie's studio sessions for the 1995 album Outside but was not released until a rough mix appeared on the soundtrack to the film Showgirls, and was subsequently remade for Earthling. A top 20 hit in Canada, the rework also peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 16 weeks on that chart. This was the final Bowie single which charted on the Hot 100 until "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" following his death. is a 1999 limited edition live album by David Bowie. It is not available commercially and could only be acquired by being subscribed to BowieNet at the time.

The album is made up of recordings from the 1997 Earthling tour, featuring songs from the albums Earthling (1997) and 1. Outside (1995).

A second release of the CD in 2000 came with a bonus disc made up of four rare remixes, one being the song "Fun", which was itself not released commercially.


Meglos is the second serial of the 18th season of the science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts on BBC1 from 27 September to 18 October 1980.

In the serial, the Zolfa-Thuran plant Meglos steals a huge source of power on the planet Tigella known as the Dodecahedron.

Paranoid Earthling

Paranoid Earthling is a Sri Lankan Rock band from Kandy. Its music can be described as a blend of Experimental Rock, Grunge, Psychedelic and Stoner Rock. It was founded in 2001 by Mirshad Buckman – the lyricist, vocalist and guitarist, Shanka Samarasinghe – Drummer, Asela Bandara – Bassist and Dhanushka Samarasinghe – Guitarist. The bands EP Rock 'N Roll is My Anarchy has brought them fame and many performances since its release in 2005. In 2014 the band underwent a line-up change when Harshan Gallage joined in as their drummer.

Rond Vidar

Rond Vidar is a fictional superhero published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Adventure Comics #349 (October 1966), and was created by Jim Shooter, Mort Weisinger and Curt Swan. An Earthling from the 30th century, he is the final member of the Green Lantern Corps—an intergalactic police force—who interacts with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Telling Lies

"Telling Lies" is a single by David Bowie written in 1996 and in 1997 released for the album Earthling.

Three versions of "Telling Lies" were released on Bowie's official website beginning 11 September 1996 – one version was released for each of three weeks – constituting the first ever downloadable single by a major artist. According to issued press releases, over 300,000 people downloaded the original Internet-only release. Two months later, it was released as a single by BMG.

Bowie launched the single with an online chat session, where he and two other people pretending to be him answered questions from the audience (Bowie told the truth; the other two "told lies"). The chat audience was asked to vote on which chat personality was the "real" Bowie; the "real" Bowie came in third.No music video was produced.

The Earthling

The Earthling is a 1980 American-Australian drama film starring William Holden and Ricky Schroder. It was filmed in 1979 in Australia, and released there in 1980. Peter Collinson directed this film and died of cancer shortly after its release. It was also one of Holden's last films before his death in 1981.

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Zachary "Zack" Alford is a professional drummer, known for his work in the Saturday Night Live Band as well with The B-52's, Bruce Springsteen, and David Bowie. Alford contributed drum loops, acoustic drums, and electronic percussion on Bowie's 1997 albums Earthling and Earthling in the City and (released online November 1999); as well as drums and percussion on Bowie's 2013 albums The Next Day and The Next Day Extra. Alford performed live drums and percussion on three Bowie tours: Outside Tour (September 1995 - February 1996), Outside Summer Festivals Tour (June 1996 - July 1996), and Earthling Tour (June 1997 - November 1997).

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