March 13, 2012
hang glider (noun)
\HANG-GLY-der\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a glider which resembles a kite and from which a rider hangs while gliding down from a cliff or hill
How do you use it?
In the first hang gliders, the pilot hung by the armpits on parallel bars beneath the glider's wings.
Are you a word wiz?

When do you think the word "hang glider" first started to be used?

Hang gliders were developed in the late 1800s, but it wasn't until 1930 that the word "hang glider" was used to refer to them. This lag between the invention of something and the invention of the English word for it isn't unusual. The word "parachute," for example, has meant "a folding umbrella-shaped device of light fabric used especially for slowing the descent of as person or object through the air" since the late 1700s, but there is some mention of the Chinese using parachutes for fun in the 1100s! Using parachutes for fun is now called "skydiving"—"the sport of jumping from an airplane and carrying out various body maneuvers before opening a parachute." That word dates only to 1957.
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