Monday, September 22, 2014


The oldest journalistic use of the term satellite was in 1882. At this point it was using the stricter definition of an astral body orbiting another or just another term for a moon, with the first instance in the New York Times referring to Jupiter's satellites. The term became more common in the mid to late 1900's, reaching a peak int the 80's. At that point satellite was used more commonly to refer to satellite television or man made satellites. The scholarly databases found the term dated all the way back to 1665 on JStor, and again referring to one of Jupiter's moons. As time went on the term was still primarily used to describe man made satellites for various uses, but also got a much wider use than it did in the media. Articles on satellite population or satellite cells were fairly common. The term was used even more generally, simply as an outlying object existing near a larger object. Today the word satellite is mostly used to refer to man made machines we have orbiting the earth which is still technically the text book definition of a satellite, just one astral body orbiting another.

1 comment:

  1. Dylan, I found this super interesting because I always have thought of a satellite as a man made object that orbits around the earth. I was shocked to find that this term dated back to 1665 with a little different definition, yet still suggesting the same motion. Great job explaining that distinction!