- a nonrigid or semirigid airship
Origin of blimpafter Col. Blimp, creation of Sir David Low a pompous, smug, highly conservative person
Origin of blimpechoic of sound caused by thumping the airship bag with a finger: probably coined (1915) by A. D. Cunningham, British Navy Air Force
- A nonrigid, buoyant airship.
- Derogatory An obese person.
verb, intransitive blimped, blimp·ing, blimps
Origin of blimpPossibly imitative of the sound made by tapping the finger against the envelope of the airship.
Origin of BlimpAfter Colonel Blimp, a cartoon character invented by David Low (1891–1963).
(third-person singular simple present blimps, present participle blimping, simple past and past participle blimped)
Origin not entirely certain, however most historians believe that it is onomatopoeia for the sound a blimp makes when thumped. Although there is some disagreement among historians, credit for coining the term is usually given to Lt. A.D. Conningham of the British Royal Navy in 1915.
There is an often repeated, but false, alternative explanation for the term. The erroneous story is that at some time in the early 20th century, the United States military had two classes for airships: Type A-rigid and Type B-limp, hence “blimp”. In fact,
- “there was no American ‘A-class’ of airships as such—all military aircraft, heavier or lighter-than-air were designated with ‘A’ until the appearance of B-class airships in May 1917. There was an American B airship—but there seems to be no record of any official designation of non-rigids as ‘limp’. Further, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the first appearance of the word in print was in 1916, in England, a year before the first B-class airship.” (“Etymology of ‘Blimp’” by Dr. A. D. Topping, AAHS Journal, Winter 1963.)
From the cartoon character Colonel Blimp, created by Sir David Low (1891–1963).