Word ‘Robot’ first time used in R.U.R.

R.U.R. is a 1920 science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek. R.U.R. stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots, an English phrase used as the subtitle in the Czech original. It premiered in 1921 and introduced the word “robot” (from robota, Czech for “work”) to the English language and to science fiction as a whole.

The play told of a world in which humans relaxed and enjoyed life while robots – imitation humans – happily did whatever labor needed to be done. Not unexpectedly, the robots eventually rebelled and took over the world.

The term “robot” achieved its own world domination in 1923, when the play was translated into English; it quickly overran its competition, precursors “android” and “automaton.” Apparently from Czech robotnik (worker) or robota (work).