space cadet

noun

Definition of space cadet 

: a flaky, lightheaded, or forgetful person

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Examples of space cadet in a Sentence

Don't be such a space cadet.

Recent Examples on the Web

Congress would have to authorize a new branch, but Members of both parties seem willing, albeit after a fight over whose district will host the space cadets. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Houston, We Have a Space Force," 4 July 2018 Pep Bonus trivia: The Kellogg’s Pep box featured cardboard cutouts of a space cadet cap, gauntlets and a ray gun. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cereal trivia quiz: Test your knowledge," 20 Feb. 2018

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.

First Known Use of space cadet

1973, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about space cadet

Share space cadet

Listen to Our Podcast about space cadet

Statistics for space cadet

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for space cadet

The first known use of space cadet was in 1973

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for space cadet

space cadet

noun

English Language Learners Definition of space cadet

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

More from Merriam-Webster on space cadet

See words that rhyme with space cadet

Comments on space cadet

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!