This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Spot the frippet: aeroplane.

Can you see a glinting plane travelling slowly through the sky? Or a long hazy contrail?

More or less everyone knows that the Wright Brothers made the first powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine in 1903.

Their achievement can be put into context by the fact that in 1906 Alberto Santos Dumont made the first flight unassisted by catapult. It travelled about 220 metres and lasted about 22 seconds (Usain Bolt has run 200 metres in 19.19 seconds).

After that, progress was swift: in 1909 Louis Blériot flew across the English Channel.

By the end of World War 1, which began for Britain a hundred years ago today, aeroplanes had developed even further, and had proved themselves adept at killing people.

Royal Aircraft Factory RE8 1.jpg
A 1916 Siddeley-Deasy-built R.E.8 reconnaissance-bomber

By the end of World War 2...

...but The Word Den is not here to spread misery or despair, and, let's face it, most aeroplanes are busily employed bringing us, not destruction, but flowers and friends and holidays.

If you see one, do wish it a long, adventurous, harmless, and happy life.

Spot the frippet: aeroplane. Or, if you're in America, an airplane. This word was made up in the late 1800s, before aeroplanes had been invented. It comes from the French aéroplane, which comes from the Greek aēr, air, and either the Latin planus, level, or the Greek planos, wandering. Aéroplane originally meant just an aeroplane's wing, not the whole machine.

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