A black hole is a compact region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, even light, can escape from its event horizon, and, interestingly, Einstein didn't accept this viewpoint. Now, I'm curious: who named "Black Hole"? And when? I know that John Archibald Wheeler is best known for using the term "black hole", but I heard that he adopted this term from the other physicists. Does anyone knows extra formal information about this? For example, when was the term "black hole" used for the first time in a manuscript?

Thanks you very much in advance ...

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    $\begingroup$ Such questions are typically addressed in history sections of Wikipedia articles, as in this case:"Science writer Marcia Bartusiak traces the term "black hole" to physicist Robert H. Dicke, who in the early 1960s reportedly compared the phenomenon to the Black Hole of Calcutta, notorious as a prison where people entered but never left alive. The term "black hole" was used in print by Life and Science News magazines in 1963, and by science journalist Ann Ewing in her article "'Black Holes' in Space", dated 18 January 1964". $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


Space.com claims that

The term "black hole" was coined many years later in 1967 by American astronomer John Wheeler.

Which, given Conifold's references via Wikipedia, lead me to propose that Wheeler gets credit for making the name "go viral." As with many names or inventions in science (e.g., who gets credit for television), fame goes to the person who is at the 'tipping point' rather than the original inventor/discoverer.


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