[ExI] sentient, sapient, sophont

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Jun 5 18:02:50 UTC 2007

>I was curious to see if *sophont* meant anything different from *sentient*

Strictly speaking, "sentient" is an adjective not a noun and means 
"having feelings". The earlier sf generalized noun for an intelligent 
being was "sapient", but that's also an adjective. "Sophont" is 
probably Poul Anderson's coinage, and an excellent one: a wise or 
thinking being. (Of course, sophistry also implies adulteration, 
twisty evasion and superficiality--very unfairly to the Sophists--and 
can thus also suitably shade the meaning of a word denoting us 
Machiavellian intelligences.)

Damien Broderick

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