BALLOON, a globular bag of varnished silk or other material impermeable to air, which, when inflated with gas lighter than common air, can be used in aeronautics, or, according to its size, &c., for any purpose for which its ability to rise and float in the atmosphere adapts such a mechanism. "Balloon" in this sense was first used in 1783 in connexion with the invention of the brothers Montgolfier, but the word was in earlier use (derived from Ital. ballone, a large ball) as meaning an actual ball or ball-game, a primitive explosive bomb or firework, a form of chemical retort or receiver, and an ornamental globe in architecture; and from the appearance and shape of an air balloon the word is also given by analogy to other things, such as a "balloon skirt" in dress, "balloon training" in horti culture. (See Aeronautics, and Flight And Flying).
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