One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In science fiction: a device that enables instantaneous communication over any distance.
1960s; earliest use found in Ursula Le Guin (b. 1929), writer of science fiction and fantasy. Shortened from answerable, with suffix substitution, so called to contrast with wave-based communication technologies (such as radio) which are not answerable over interstellar distances within any useful period of time.
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