Origin of balloon

1570–80; < Upper Italian ballone, equivalent to ball(a) (< Langobardic; see ball1) + -one augmentative suffix; or < Middle French ballon < Upper Italian
Related formsbal·loon·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for balloon

Contemporary Examples of balloon

Historical Examples of balloon

  • We are always, metaphorically, going up or coming down in a balloon.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The first balloon ascent was made from this little town in 1783.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Our journey must now be compared to the descent from cloud-land in a balloon.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • We was used to the balloon now and not afraid any more, and didn't want to be anywheres else.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Well, up in a balloon there ain't any of that, and it's the darlingest place there is.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

British Dictionary definitions for balloon



an inflatable rubber bag of various sizes, shapes, and colours: usually used as a plaything or party decoration
a large impermeable bag inflated with a lighter-than-air gas, designed to rise and float in the atmosphere. It may have a basket or gondola for carrying passengers, etcSee also barrage balloon, hot-air balloon
a circular or elliptical figure containing the words or thoughts of a character in a cartoon
  1. a kick or stroke that propels a ball high into the air
  2. (as modifier)a balloon shot
chem a round-bottomed flask
a large rounded brandy glass
  1. a large sum paid as an irregular instalment of a loan repayment
  2. (as modifier)a balloon loan
  1. an inflatable plastic tube used for dilating obstructed blood vessels or parts of the alimentary canal
  2. (as modifier)balloon angioplasty
go down like a lead balloon informal to be completely unsuccessful or unpopular
when the balloon goes up informal when the trouble or action begins


(intr) to go up or fly in a balloon
(intr) to increase or expand significantly and rapidlylosses ballooned to £278 million
to inflate or be inflated; distend; swellthe wind ballooned the sails
(tr) British to propel (a ball) high into the air
Derived Formsballooning, nounballoonist, nounballoon-like, adjective

Word Origin for balloon

C16 (in the sense: ball, ball game): from Italian dialect ballone, from balla, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German balla ball 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for balloon

1570s, "a game played with a large inflated leather ball," from Italian pallone "large ball," from palla "ball," from a Germanic source akin to Langobardic palla (from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell;" see bole) + -one, suffix indicating great size.

Perhaps also borrowed in part from French ballon (16c.), altered (after balle) from Italian pallone. It also meant the ball itself (1590s), which was batted back and forth by means of large wooden paddles strapped to the forearms. In 17c., it also meant "a type of fireworks housed in a pasteboard ball" (1630s) and "round ball used as an architectural ornament" (1650s). Acquired modern meaning after Montgolfier brothers' flights, 1783. As a child's toy, it is attested from 1848; as "outline containing words in a comic engraving" it dates from 1844. Also cf. -oon.


"to go up in a balloon," 1792; "to swell, puff up," 1841, from balloon (n.). Related: Ballooned; ballooning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

balloon in Medicine




An inflatable spherical device that is inserted into a body cavity or structure and distended with air or gas for therapeutic purposes.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with balloon


In addition to the idiom beginning with balloon

  • balloon goes up, the

also see:

  • go over (like a lead balloon)
  • trial balloon
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.