A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Henry Halboth
Date: 2017 Feb 19, 00:55 -0500
Don S, you wrote:
"The earliest use that I have found is 1831, by Sir Walter Scott in his novel Castle Dangerous, though the usage seems metaphorical."
Sir Walter Scott... a monkey with a typewriter. :) Wikipedia has a very informative article on the Infinite Monkey Theorem, by the way. In this context, I call that an accidental hit. Words get paired together in innumerable combinations, and the pairing "terrestrial navigation" pops up here and there throughout the available literature. But this new modern usage does not appear in the expected places. To me the most compelling evidence was discovering that there are no books with that phrase in the title except a few accidental cases like extra-terrestrial navigation and, most importantly, those two exam prep manuals (one as yet unpublished!).
A similar accidental hit, while I'm thinking of it, is the first recorded usage of the word chronometer, around 1718 if I remember correctly. But it does not qualify as the origin of the later word and its still current meaning because it was intended as pure satire --a funny, overly-academic sounding word designed to parody the new scientific lingo of the day.