space cadet

noun
Updated on: 31 Mar 2018

Definition of space cadet

: a flaky, lightheaded, or forgetful person

space cadet was our Word of the Day on 06/01/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of space cadet in a Sentence

  1. Don't be such a space cadet.

Recent Examples of space cadet from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'space cadet.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Space cadet has been used derogatorily since the late 1970s, but long before then it referred to the rank that the character Matt Dodson hoped to achieve in Robert Heinlein's 1948 novel Space Cadet. Other writers of futuristic fiction followed Heinlein's lead, using the word in reference to young astronauts. From there the meaning broadened to cover any space travel enthusiast. Today the word is occasionally used as a slang word for a pilot who shows off, but it most commonly refers to those of us who may seem to have our minds in outer space while our bodies remain earthbound.

First Known Use of space cadet

1973

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

SPACE CADET Defined for English Language Learners

space cadet

Definition of space cadet for English Language Learners

  • : a person who does not pay attention or who tends to forget things


Learn More about space cadet


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up space cadet? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a quick and clever reply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • spring-flowers
  • Which is a synonym of raillery?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!