Printable Version
Pronunciation: blimp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A nonrigid dirigible balloon (airship) without an internal supporting framework, often provided with a cabin underneath for transport of people, cargo, etc. 2. (US, offensive) An obese person. 3. (UK, offensive) A pompous person, someone given to bloviating.

Notes: We are tempted to use today's Good Word facetiously because of its sound. There are several disparaging words that rhyme with it: wimp, simp, pimp and limp to name a few. It has spawned several derivations, such as blimpery "pomposity", blimpian "pompous", and blimpish "pompous". Today's word is a rarity, indeed: an English word that is pronounced exactly as it is spelled.

In Play: The Zeppelin was not a blimp because it had a metal framework. However, its name was spoofed in the name of the rock group Led Zeppelin. The idea for the name, no doubt, originated in the American expression "Her suggestion went over like a lead balloon." Don't forget the derivations from this word, particularly useful in the campaign season: "The congresswoman's speech carried her to such blimpian heights as were never before achieved at a political convention."

Word History: Today's Good Word began as an abbreviation. During WWI the British experimented with large balloons capable of transport. The first nonrigid "lighter-than-air-aircraft" was designated the A-limp (nonrigid) when it was superseded by an improved version, called the B-limp. Dirigible refers to either type of airship, with or without rigid internal structure. This word was borrowed from the French, who inherited it as the adjective of the Latin verb dirigere "to direct, get straight". The past participle of this verb is directus "straight". English feasted on this word, then went back for the leftovers. (We are happy that David McWethy directed today's Good Word to us and didn't give up when it floated past us blimpishly the first time.)

Dr. Goodword,

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