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
  • 3
    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

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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.