What does the Word Helicopter Mean?

Yesterday I wrote about the word storey, which made it seem like a logical step today would be to look at the story.

I’ve looked at it a little before of course, but today I’ve been thinking about it in different terms, particularly how it relates to the word history.

Depending on your native language, or how much you think about words, you may or may not be surprised that there’s a link between the two.

Well there is, but do you know what? I’ve just remembered that I already mentioned it in that article about the phrase tall tale I linked to earlier. I could go into more detail, but there’s no real point, is there? History and story used to be fairly interchangeable in English, because their meaning is similar, and some other languages use the same word for both meanings. That’s it really.

I suppose I’ll have to write about something else then.

Helicopter! I’ve just heard a helicopter outside. That’s actually quite an interesting word. Most people assume it’s made up of two parts: heli– and –copter. And we often shorten it to ‘copter, which supports this assumption. And if you think about it to any extent, you can find some logic to this idea. Heli– sounds like Helios, the Greek god and personification of the sun, so that part probably refers to that, and the –copter part is probably related to the idea of rotation.

But no. The word is actually basically made of helic- and -opter. Feels weird, doesn’t it? But when you look into it, it makes sense. Helic– comes from the Greek helix, meaning spiral, referring to the rotating blades. And -opter comes from pteron, meaning wing (as in pterosaur or pteranodon).

Now, that’s interesting isn’t it: the story of the word helicopter!

6 thoughts on “What does the Word Helicopter Mean?

  1. During my university years, I knew some rampant feminists who claimed that his+story was inherently patriarchal and that we needed herstory. I ignored them.

    I hesitate to point out that it’s actually helico + pter.

    Liked by 1 person

      • In a sense, the ‘o’ is there just to link the two parts. The basic word is ‘helix’. This changes to ‘helic’ when combining with an element beginning with a vowel (helicoid – I didn’t know that, I had to search) and ‘helico’ when combining with an element beginning with a consonant.

        Liked by 1 person

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