The title pretty much says it all. I thought it would be easy to find the origin by googling, but although there are many references, none of the ones I scanned included the origin.

I remember first seeing "congresscritter" decades ago, probably in Analog, maybe in an editorial by Stanley Schmidt. But even if my memory is correct, did Schmidt create the word, or just use it?

I also remember that I first saw congresscritter when words like chairman, congressman and mankind were being attacked as sexist. So that suggests early to mid 1970s for the origin.

  • 2
    I wonder if this question might be better off on the English Stack Exchange...?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 11, 2015 at 23:00

3 Answers 3


Apparently the term was coined by Arlen Riley Wilson, Robert Anton Wilson's wife. From this interview with RAW:

I coined the term spokesentities, because I was in a restaurant in Boulder, and they gave me a card, to evaluate the food, the service, this that and the other, and they asked me to evaluate the waitperson. And it asks for comments. So I wrote in the comments, I wrote, "Waitperson stinks of human chauvinism. Change it to waitentity at once!" And I signed it "animal lover."

And then I started using that, then, and my wife, Arlen, changed it to waitcritter.. Waitcritter, Congresscritter; clergycritter… I wouldn't want a clergy-critter getting into my house. And it changes the whole abortion debate. Now all they can argue about is what point after the penetration of the ovum by the sperm does the resultant become a critter? And when does it attain critterhood?

  • This is very plausible as the birth of "congresscritter". It would have been a short journey from ARW to Stanley Schmidt. It would be nice to have the date, but that may be hoping for too much. Now that I've thought about it more, I am pretty sure (would bet one month's income) that I saw it in Analog between 1975 and 1982.
    – ab2
    Nov 11, 2015 at 23:46
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    I always assumed it originated with Walt Kelly's Pogo comic strip from the 1950's-70's, but according to Wictionary it originated in 1979 with Jerry Pournelle, A Step Farther Out, Ace, page 43
    – Joe L.
    Nov 12, 2015 at 2:52
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    Might easily have been independently invented multiple times before it became popular. Nov 12, 2015 at 3:38
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    +1 for the reference "I wouldn't want a clergy-critter getting into my house."
    – Anoplexian
    Feb 12, 2016 at 16:57
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    Is there a date for this?
    – Mark Olson
    Jun 27, 2018 at 20:20

I first ran into the term congresscritters while reading Robert A. Heinlein. He used it in several of his books going back as far as the mid 1950's.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! This answer would be improved if you could include a reference to one of Heinlein's books in which he uses the word.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:43
  • It would be fascinating to have the book and the date for this!
    – ab2
    Jun 27, 2018 at 16:15

I can recall nationally syndicated political columnist Jack Anderson regularly using the term "Congresscritter" throughout the 1980s.

  • 2
    This is unlikely to be the origin as it is after both the date in the OP and the date in the accepted answer.
    – amflare
    Jan 22, 2018 at 21:22

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