... like "human" but also applicable to other beings that are generally as intelligent (i.e. capable of complex thought, participation in a society, etc.).

Or must one describe that concept with other words? If so, is there a most-succinct or scientific way of doing so? "Intelligent lifeform"?

  • It has to have an ego?
    – TRomano
    May 28, 2015 at 16:19
  • Yes, I believe so. The context being an attempt to describe different intelligent beings interacting with each other without referring to them as humans- as they may be some other species (fictional).
    – c..
    May 28, 2015 at 16:20
  • Could it be a blob of some kind? How important is the "form" element?
    – TRomano
    May 28, 2015 at 16:22
  • 2
    If I'm told NASA have discovered an alien lifeform on Europa, I wouldn't be surprised to learn it's something really basic (like plankton, say). But if they say they've discovered alien beings there, I'd naturally assume that meant intelligent beings. So my vote goes for being (of which, as John points out, we currently only know one type - human beings). May 28, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    What is wrong with "sentient"? Just an aside, Frank Herbert coined "ConSentiency" for the political organization that spanned multiple intelligent races.
    – JeffSahol
    May 28, 2015 at 17:57

4 Answers 4


What is wrong with "sapient," which is widely used in science fiction.


John Norman, in one of the GOR novels, has a Gorean creature use the word "sophont" in this context (something like "I would never injure another sophont")


"Sentient Beings" are more popular in use.

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    – 1006a
    Feb 12, 2018 at 17:35

This is what "person" means. From dictionary.com: "5. Philosophy. a self-conscious or rational being."

The word "person" is widely used in science fiction and fantasy, too.

This question comes up a lot on various Stack Exchange sites.

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