Entries linking to spacecraft
c. 1300, "extent or area; room" (to do something), a shortening of Old French espace "period of time, distance, interval" (12c.), from Latin spatium "room, area, distance, stretch of time," a word of unknown origin (also source of Spanish espacio, Italian spazio).
From early 14c. as "a place," also "amount or extent of time." From mid-14c. as "distance, interval of space;" from late 14c. as "ground, land, territory; extension in three dimensions; distance between two or more points." From early 15c. as "size, bulk," also "an assigned position." Typographical sense is attested from 1670s (typewriter space-bar is from 1876, earlier space-key, 1860).
Astronomical sense of "stellar depths, immense emptiness between the worlds" is by 1723, perhaps as early as "Paradise Lost" (1667), common from 1890s. Space age is attested from 1946. Many compounds first appeared in science fiction and speculative writing, such as spaceship (1894, "A Journey in Other Worlds," John Jacob Astor); spacecraft (1928, Popular Science); space travel (1931); space station (1936, "Rockets Through Space"); spaceman (1942, Thrilling Wonder Stories). Space race attested from 1959. Space shuttle attested by 1970.
Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. [Sir Fred Hoyle, London Observer, 1979]
Old English cræft (West Saxon, Northumbrian), -creft (Kentish), "power, physical strength, might," from Proto-Germanic *krab-/*kraf- (source also of Old Frisian kreft, Old High German chraft, German Kraft "strength, skill;" Old Norse kraptr "strength, virtue"). The ultimate etymology is uncertain.
Sense expanded in Old English to include "skill, dexterity; art, science, talent" (via a notion of "mental power"), which led by late Old English to the meaning "trade, handicraft, employment requiring special skill or dexterity," also "something built or made." The word still was used for "might, power" in Middle English.
Use for "small boat" is first recorded 1670s, probably from a phrase similar to vessels of small craft and referring either to the trade they did or the seamanship they required, or perhaps it preserves the word in its original sense of "power."
updated on November 04, 2013