In its meaning of something from outside or beyond the earth, the word extraterrestrial was first used by H. G. Wells in his 1898 novel War of the Worlds. The narrator tells of arriving at a pit where a mysterious cylinder has fallen to earth and a small crowd has gathered. The narrator is convinced that ” . . . the Thing had come from the planet Mars”, and reports:
. . . . the yellowish-white metal that gleamed in the crack between the lid and the cylinder had an unfamiliar hue. ”Extra-terrestrial” had no meaning for most of the onlookers.
The later abbreviation of extraterrestrial to E. T. is credited to L. Sprague de Camp in 1939.