AskDefine | Define blimp

Dictionary Definition

Blimp

Noun

1 any elderly pompous reactionary ultranationalistic person (after the cartoon character created by Sir David Low) [syn: Colonel Blimp]
2 a small nonrigid airship used for observation or as a barrage balloon [syn: sausage balloon, sausage]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Blimp

English

Etymology

Origin not entirely certain, however most historians believe that it is onomatopoeia for the sound a blimp makes when thumped. Although there is some disagreement among historians, credit for coining the term is usually given to Lt. A.D. Conningham of the British Royal Navy in 1915.
There is an often repeated, but false, alternative explanation for the term. The erroneous story is that at some time in the early 20th century, the United States military had two classes for airships: Type A-rigid and Type B-limp, hence “blimp”. In fact,
''“there was no American ‘A-class’ of airships as such—all military aircraft, heavier or lighter-than-air were designated with ‘A’ until the appearance of B-class airships in May 1917. There was an American B airship—but there seems to be no record of any official designation of non-rigids as ‘limp’. Further, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the first appearance of the word in print was in 1916, in England, a year before the first B-class airship.” (“Etymology of ‘Blimp’” by Dr. A. D. Topping, AAHS Journal'', Winter 1963.)

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. An airship constructed with a non rigid lifting agent container.

Translations

airship

Verb

  1. to expand like a blimp or balloon; to become fat
    After college, she started blimping and could no longer wear her favorite little black dress.

Quotations

  • 2004, the Goodyear blimp over Giants Stadium — The New Yorker, 16 & 23 Feb 2004

Extensive Definition

A non-rigid airship, or blimp, differs from a rigid airship (e.g. a Zeppelin) in that it does not have a rigid structure that holds the airbag in shape. Rather, these aircraft rely on a higher pressure of the gas (usually helium) inside the envelope. Although a blimp can be steered and thus qualifies as a dirigible, that term is more commonly used with rigid airships.
Blimps are also distinct from moored balloons. While often very similar in shape, moored balloons (sometimes called aerostats) are tethered to the ground in contrast to blimps which are free flying aircraft.
Because blimps keep their shape with internal overpressure, typically the only solid parts are the passenger car (gondola) and the tail fins. A non-rigid-airship that uses heated air instead of a light gas (such as Helium) as a lifting medium is called a hot air airship.
The term "blimp" is reportedly onomatopoeic, the sound the airship makes when one taps the envelope (balloon) with a finger. Although there is some disagreement among historians, credit for coining the term is usually given to Lt. A.D. Conningham of the British Royal Navy in 1915.
There is an often repeated, but false, alternative explanation for the term. The erroneous story is that at some time in the early 20th century, the United States military had two classes for airships: Type A-rigid and Type B-limp, hence "blimp". In fact,
''"there was no American 'A-class' of airships as such—all military aircraft, heavier or lighter-than-air were designated with 'A' until the appearance of B-class airships in May 1917. There was an American B airship—but there seems to be no record of any official designation of non-rigids as 'limp'. Further, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the first appearance of the word in print was in 1916, in England, a year before the first B-class airship." ("Etymology of 'Blimp'" by Dr. A. D. Topping, AAHS Journal'', Winter 1963.)
The perpetuation of this erroneous explanation is an example of false etymology.

Some non-rigid airships

  • Tc-3 and Tc-7, two US Army Corps non-rigid blimps used for parasite fighter trials during 1923-24.
  • SSZ blimps, convoy escort blimps used by the UK in World War I.
  • G-Class Blimp and L-Class Blimp, US training blimps built by Goodyear during World War II.
  • K-Class Blimp and M-Class Blimp, US anti-submarine blimps operated during World War II.
  • N-Class Blimp (the "Nan ship"), used for anti-submarine and as a radar early-warning platform during the 1950s.
  • Goodyear Blimps, a fleet of blimps operated for advertising purposes and as a television camera platform.
  • Skyship 600, a private blimp used by advertising companies
  • P-791, an experimental aerostatic/aerodynamic hybrid airship developed by Lockheed-Martin corporation.
  • CA-80, which was launched in 2000, had a successful trial flight in September 2001 by Shanghai Vantage Airship Manufacture Co.,Ltd.

See also

blimp in Czech: Neztužená vzducholoď
blimp in German: Prallluftschiff
blimp in French: Blimp
blimp in Dutch: Blimp
blimp in Norwegian: Blimp
blimp in Polish: Sterowiec ciśnieniowy
blimp in Slovak: Nevystužená vzducholoď
blimp in Swedish: Blimp

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bourbon, Colonel Blimp, Graf Zeppelin, aerostat, airship, ballonet, balloon, bloated aristocrat, captive balloon, diehard, dirigible, dirigible balloon, dumpling, fatty, fuddy-duddy, gasbag, heavy, heavyweight, hippo, lighter-than-air craft, lump, pilot balloon, potbelly, reactionarist, reactionist, rigid airship, roly-poly, royalist, sausage, semirigid airship, ship, stuffed shirt, swagbelly, tub, tub of lard, tun, ultraconservative, weather balloon, white, zeppelin
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