[ hel-i-kop-ter, hee-li- ]
/ ˈhɛl ɪˌkɒp tər, ˈhi lɪ- /


any of a class of heavier-than-air craft that are lifted and sustained in the air horizontally by rotating wings or blades turning on vertical axes through power supplied by an engine.

verb (used without object)

to fly in a helicopter.

verb (used with object)

to convey in a helicopter.

Origin of helicopter

From the French word hélicoptère, dating back to 1885–90. See helico-, -pter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for helicopter

British Dictionary definitions for helicopter


/ (ˈhɛlɪˌkɒptə) /


an aircraft capable of hover, vertical flight, and horizontal flight in any direction. Most get all of their lift and propulsion from the rotation of overhead bladesSee also autogiro


to transport (people or things) or (of people or things) to be transported by helicopter

Word Origin for helicopter

C19: from French hélicoptère, from helico- + Greek pteron wing
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 helicopter



1861, from French 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 in the 1920s. From Greek helix (genitive helikos) "spiral" (see helix) + pteron "wing" (see pterodactyl). Nativized in Flemish as wentelwiek "with rotary vanes."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper