Word Origin & History
1861, from Fr. hélicoptère "device for enabling airplanes to rise perpendicularly," thus "flying machine propelled by screws." The idea was to gain lift from spiral aerofoils, and it didn't work. Used by Jules Verne and the Wright Brothers, the word transferred to helicopters in the modern
sense when those were developed, 1920s. From Gk. helix (gen. helikos) "spiral" (see helix
) + pteron "wing" (see petition
). Nativized in Flemish as wentelwiek "with rotary vanes." Heliport is attested from 1948, with second element abstracted from airport.