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I saw something flying today. What should I call it in English?

something in the air

  • 3
    They are (hot) air balloons. – bytebuster Feb 14 '13 at 4:16
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    It would be more natural sounding to phrase your question "What are these called in English?", though I don't know if using "how" is technically incorrect. To use "how" , I would say "How are these described in English?". – user485 Feb 14 '13 at 4:30
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bytebuster has the provided the correct term, although I would parenthesize it like this: (hot air) balloon. That is, these objects can simply be called balloons, or hot-air balloons if you want to be more specific.

Also, it may be worth noting that many dictionaries hyphenate the descriptive hot-air, although that hyphen is regularly omitted in the literature.

Hot air balloons belong to the family of flying machines called aerostats, or lighter-than-air flying aircraft. However, it should be noted that I've added that hypernym simply for reference purposes; the word aerostat is a more technical term that's seldom heard in day-to-day speech. In conversation, I'd expect to hear something more like:

Blimps and hot-air balloons are lighter-than-air aircraft.

  • 1
    I'm going to have to start using aerostat now. – JAB Nov 18 '16 at 18:17

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