When is the term "Turbolift" first used in Star Trek?

(using real-world timing, not in-universe timing)

In Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, after Captain Kirk presses the "stop" button for a short conversation with Lieutenant Saavik, the doors open and Dr. McCoy says:

MCCOY: Who's been holding up the damn elevator?

By the time we get to Star Trek: The Next Generation, they don't call it an "elevator" any more. Instead, they call it a "turbolift".

When did this start? What's the first occurrence of the term "turbolift"?

  • Turbolift and elevator are not the same things. Turbolifts also move horizontally.
    – I' Robot
    Jul 6 '19 at 13:45

In TOS: S01E06: The Naked Time

The episode aired on 29 September 1966.

From Chakoteya:

UHURA [OC]: Entering upper stratosphere, Captain. Skin temperature now twenty one hundred seventy degrees.

KIRK: I've got to hang on. Tell them. Clear the corridors, the turbo lift. Hurry. (Scott and Spock leave) Never lose you. Never.


In Where No Man Has Gone Before, which aired a week earlier, the term Turbolift is used in script (as a description of scene location, not spoken by anyone).


MITCHELL: Hold it, Jim.

KIRK: Getting into shape?


  • Trusting Google Ngram Viewer (and I never entirely do), the term "turbolift" was in print by 1972. books.google.com/ngrams/… Jul 4 '19 at 20:12
  • 1
    @InvisibleTrihedron, you made a typo in "tubo lift". When you correct it, Ngram Viewer shows a date similar to mine. Jul 5 '19 at 6:43
  • 1
    Yes, "turbo lift" (not "tubo lift") shows up first in ... 1965? Plus, the word "turbo-lift" shows up decades earlier as a term used in regard to pumping water and oil from wells. At least as early as 1936 using Google Books, though I don't have access to the references cited there to make sure. (Sometimes when a journal is cited, the date given can be the year that the journal was founded rather than the date of the desired issue, so it's always necessary to check. Anyone have access to old volumes of Petroleum Engineering?) Jul 5 '19 at 14:06
  • 1
    @InvisibleTrihedron does the Ngram Viewer give you any way to track down the usage? I really wanted to find the first usage EVER, not necessarily just in Star Trek. if it's in a non-ST book, that would be an awesome piece of information
    – LevenTrek
    Jul 8 '19 at 5:39
  • @LevenTrek Yes! Click on the dates below the chart, or just rerun the search on Google Books, the database that Google Ngram Viewer draws from. Warning: It's somewhat glitchy. Jul 8 '19 at 19:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.