According to Etymonline jet lag is an expression coined in 1966; and the site airspacemag.com states that:

  • "jet lag" was first used in a Los Angeles Times article on February 13, 1966. "If you're going to be a member of the Jet Set and fly off to Katmandu for coffee with King Mahendra," wrote Horace Sutton, "you can count on contracting Jet Lag, a debility not unakin to a hangover.

In The inky fool, Mark Forsyth cites a 1965 usage:

The inevitable result of real, literal jet-setting is jet lag, which was first recorded in 1965. It popped up in the New York Herald Tribune and is described thuslyly:

  • Jet lag strikes suddenly. The victim disembarks from the..plane feeling gay as a sprite, dashes through customs, checks into home or a hotel, .. greets friends and in the course of the next few hours falls into a light coma.

The above 1965 usage suggests that the expression was probably already common among air travellers and given the fact that jet air services started in the early '50 is may appear reasonable to assume that "jet-lag" (originally know as time zone syndrome) has an earlier origin.

  • Is there evidence of earlier usages of "jet lag", and

  • was it an expression coined by a journalist or does it have a more scientific origin in early studies on the effects of the "timezone syndrome" by the FAA, for instance?

  • here is a link to the 1965 article: newspapers.com/newspage/5780382 It begins "One of the chic new ailments is jet lag. To suffer from jet lag it's necessary lo have traveled at least six or seven hours on a jet..."
    – DavePhD
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 16:14
  • I can't be sure of the date but it seems it is 1966 or earlier version of Fielding Travel Guide to Europe using jet lag: books.google.com.co/…
    – snoram
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 1:46
  • merriam-webster.com states "First Known Use: 1965" (of jet lag) without citing any source.
    – snoram
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 1:56

2 Answers 2


Early awareness of the phenomenon of jet lag

The New York Herald Tribune article from 1965 mentioned in the posted question also shows up under the title "New ailment—jet lag," in the Mason City [Iowa] Globe-Gazette of March 4, 1965 (as noted in DavePhD's comment above), under the title "'Jet Lag' Unbalances Victims' Time Sense," in the St. Louis [Missouri] Post-Dispatch of March 5, 1965, under the title "Jet Lag Is Chic: Ailment Follows Travel," in the Cincinnati [Ohio] Enquirer of March 21, 1965, and under the title "Jet Lag," in the Kingston [Jamaica] Gleaner of April 3, 1965. These links go to pay sites (Newspapers.com and NewspaperArchive.com).

Wayne Brandstadt, "The Doctor Says: German Scientist Finds Secret of Body's Timing," in the Columbia Missourian (February 23, 1966) cites research into the phenomenon indicating that symptoms of jet lag are far more acute in travel west to east than in travel east to west:

These findings explain why our efficiency is greatest during the day and why, after a trip in a jet-propelled plane that crosses several time zones in a few hours, you may suffer from what has been called the [time zone] syndrome or jet lag. This syndrome is characterized by fatigue, decreased appetite and lessened efficiency.

If you travel travel from east to west (with the sun) for a distance of about 3,000 miles it takes about about 2 days for your body to readjust If, on the other hand, you travel the same distance at the same speed against the sun it usually takes three or four days to readjust. The greatest effect is seen in persons who have to make such trips frequently.

The Missourian's version of the column omits the words "time zone" from the phrase "time zone syndrome," but this omission is probably accidental (since the resulting wording "what has been called the syndrome or jet lag" is, at a minimum, grammatically awkward. The [Palm Springs, California] Desert Sun (April 13, 1966) reproduces the same column with the phrase "time zone syndrome or jet lag" properly in place.

'Time zone syndrome' versus 'jet lag'

The expression time zone syndrome seems to be a slightly earlier name for jet lag. It appears, for example, in this bibliographical entry from Bibliographical List, issues 1–18 [combined snippets]:

  1. Lodeesen, Marius and James E. Crane. RACING THE SUN. Air Line Pilot, 33:8–9, 22–3, January 1964. What we are just beginning to realize is that traveling rapidly around the globe upsets our physiological life cycle. A new element has been discovered in jet flying: the time zone syndrome.

Lodeesen was a pilot with Pan American Airways, and Crane was a doctor and a medical examiner with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The same two authors had published an article titled "Tired Jet Pilots" in the March 1963 issue of Flying magazine, but the bibliographical blurb for that article in Bibliographical List doesn't specify a physiological syndrome as the underlying cause:

Flight crew fitness — the human factor — is lagging behind as the jets gain new levels in speed and schedule frequency.

The January 1964 Air Line Pilot article begins with much the same language as the bibliographical blurb noted earlier:

Any school child knows that when it is noon in New York, it is midnight on the other side of the world. What we are just beginning to realize is that traveling rapidly around the globe upsets our physiological life cycle. A new element has been discovered in jet flying: the time zone syndrome.

Another early treatment of the phenomenon appears in Aviation Week & Space Technology, volume 80 (1964) [combined snippets]:

Pilots are already complaining of the stresses brought on them by the jet transport. They are pressing in contract negotiations for fewer flight hours per month and more assurance of full benefits should a health defect force early retirement. New phrases, such as "time-zone syndrome" and "metabolic clock" are being used as pilots cite the mental and physical upset of rapid and frequent shifting away from the routine of home environment.

As far as I've been able to determine, this article does not use the term jet lag, although it is clearly devoted to the phenomenon of jet lag.

An unrelated form of 'jet lag'

The term jet lag in an unrelated sense does appear in three Australian newspaper headlines from the 1950s. From the [Brisbane, Queensland] Courier Mail (June 30, 1950):

See big jet lag in naval aid force

From Newcastle [New South Wales] Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (December 18, 1954):

Jet Lag In U.K. Hits Defence

And from the Sydney [News South Wales] Morning Herald (December 18, 1954):

Anxiety Over Jet Lag

In all three cases, the phrase "jet lag" refers to a lag in production of jet airplanes, not to a physiological syndrome.


The term jet lag was almost certainly coined in the 1960s—certainly not later than early 1965, when the New York Herald Tribune published an article using the term. Awareness of the phenomenon of jet lag is not much older. In Google Books search results, articles describing symptoms of jet lag among jet pilots date to 1963, and articles dubbing the associated phenomenon time-zone syndrome date to January 1964. The January 1964 article specifically observes that "we are just beginning to realize" the existence and dimensions of the problem. During the middle 1960s, time-zone syndrome seems to have been a more common term than jet lag in aviation literature.

The New York Herald Tribune's early 1965 article in which jet lag appeared—which is as yet the earliest confirmed instance of the term in print—was subsequently reprinted in multiple newspapers across the United States and even in one Jamaican newspaper, with prominent place given to the term jet lag in the headline. Evidently, by the early 1970s, time-zone syndrome had fallen out of favor as jet lag became the standard colloquial term for the phenomenon. Nevertheless, a Google Books search finds instances of the time-zone syndrome in texts published as recently as 2006.


The word "lag" was applied to the phenomenon in the 1964 (received 4 December 1963) article Effect of Rapid Transposition Around the Earth on Diurnal Variation in Body Temperature:

Methods The subjects in this experiment were 3 members of a family including a 6- year-old child. They left Tokyo (longitude 140 E) around noon on Sept. 3, after making a 23-hour stopover at Honolulu (158 W) on the same date, spent 4 days in Seattle (122 W) (Sept. 4 through 7) and arrived at Lexington, Ky. (84 W) on Sept. 8, 1962. The trip resulted in an advance of local time as much as 10 hours in one travel time.


These characteristics are (1) time of morning rise, (2) time of evening fall, and (3) phase lag and regularity of the cycle.


The lag decreased progressively with considerable fluctuation, and after 8-11 days it was negligible. The time lag in the child was smaller and had less fluctuation.


The phase lag and regularity of the diurnal pattern were determined


The data in Fig. 1 give additional proof that of the many features of diurnal pattern the time of morning rise shows least time lag and the best adjustment to a new local time, while the time of evening fall is easily affected by environmental, bodily and mental conditions.


Group B: At medium speed the time course of diurnal pattern shows a slight tendency to lag behind the local time change. Group C: At high speed a considerable time lag is developed.


The combination of a circadian rhythm and “Zeitgebers” is established so firmly that it buffers changes and introduces a marked time lag in modification made by a shift of daily routine as a result of a change in local time.
Observations by previous investigators on the temperature rhythm during a voyage showed a satisfactory adjustment to day-today change of longitude, while the present observations revealed a time lag.


A rapid trip leaves a great amount of time lag

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