sputnik

sputnik

[spoot-nik, spuht-; Russian spoot-nyik]
noun
(sometimes initial capital letter) any of a series of Soviet earth-orbiting satellites: Sputnik I was the world's first space satellite.

Origin:
1957; < Russian spútnik satellite, traveling companion, equivalent to s- together, with + put’ way, route + -nik agent suffix (cf. -nik)

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Sputnik (ˈspʊtnɪk, ˈspʌt-)
 
n
any of a series of unmanned Soviet satellites, Sputnik 1 (launched in 1957) being the first man-made satellite to orbit the earth
 
[C20: from Russian, literally: fellow traveller, from s- with + put path + -nik suffix indicating agent]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

sputnik
"artificial satellite," 1957 (launched Oct. 4, 1957), from Rus. sputnik "satellite," lit. "traveling companion," from O.C.S. supotiniku, from su- "with, together" + poti "way, journey" (from PIE base *pent- "to go, pass") + agent suffix -nik. The electrifying impact of the launch on the West can be gauged
by the number of new formations in -nik around this time (the suffix had been present in a Yiddish context for at least a decade before); e.g. the dog launched aboard Sputnik 2 (Nov. 2, 1957), which was dubbed muttnik by the "Detroit Free Press," etc., and the U.S. satellite which failed to reach orbit in 1957 (because the Vanguard rocket blew up on the launch pad) derided as a kaputnik (in the "Daily Express"), a flopnik ("Daily Herald"), a puffnik ("Daily Mail"), and a stayputnik ("News Chronicle").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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