difference between aircraft and airplane

Discussion in 'English Only' started by hydsky, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. hydsky Senior Member

    is there any?
  2. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Certainly. An airplane is a type of aircraft. There are a variety of aircraft: hot air balloons, airplanes, gliders, kites, helicopters, cruise missiles, microlights, etc. All of these types of vehicles fly through the air, making them aircraft.
  3. mnestic Member

    Minneapolis, MN, USA
    English- US
    "Aircraft" can be applied to any machine that flies-- helicopter, hot-air balloon, whatever.

    Most often you'll hear pilots or flight attendants say it to refer to an airplane, but most people just say "airplane".
  4. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    I must admit I always thought of "airplane" as an Americanism; a corruption of "aeroplane".
  5. Mezzofanti Senior Member

    Near Bordeaux, France
    Native speaker of pukka UK English
    "Airplane" is an Americanism. The BE equivalent is "aeroplane". "Aircraft", with its wider connotation, is common to both forms of English.
  6. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Aeroplane is partially derived from Greek, and the word is commonly used in Britain and Commonwealth countries. Airplane is derived from the English words that constitute the source of a plane's lift, and this version is commonly used in the US and Canada.

    I would, of course, consider the AE version the correct one, since the first one to successfully fly was built in America. ;)
  7. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    ...neatly sidestepping the controversy of which one that actually was ;).
  8. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    The oldest citations for "airplane" are actually British. The date given for the first print citation of aeroplane as a craft and not a lifting surface is 1873 while airplane is 1907 - not much difference as these things go. It is not unusual for older citations to be found.
  9. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    True. The British "aeroplane" apparently came from Greek via French (the French were busy trying to build the first ones too). Didn't the Wright brothers call their machine "flyer" rather than airplane or aeroplane?"

    Wiki answers, bizarrely, claims that airplane was part of an anti-English changing of words in the aftermath of the War of Independence. As far as I know, there were no such flying machines in 1783, and I find it hard to believe that the Americans were still coining new words in a fit of anti-English pique over 100 years later - it seems to be stretching the term "aftermath" a little. It seems more likely that they simply developed their own, more "English"-sounding word at a time when both words were just entering the language.

    Have we gone off-topic yet?
  10. Majorbloodnock Senior Member

    South East England
    British English
    Why? We English haven't officially been at war with the French for a couple of hundred years, but there are times you'd be forgiven for not realising it ;)

    (Disclaimer - individuals' opinions, particularly mine, may be rather more conciliatory :D)

    If not before, then I'm sure we've managed it now.

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