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German word of the day: Das Luftkissenfahrzeug

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German word of the day: Das Luftkissenfahrzeug

Today’s word of the day is quite a mouthful. Even some German speakers know it better by its English name.

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Good compound nouns - or words pieced together with a string of nouns to take on a literal yet poetic meaning - and this one just happens to be one of our favourites.  

You can't get much more literal (or weirdly poetic) than Luftkissenfahrzeug, the German word for hovercraft - which translates to a combination of ‘air-pillow-drive-thing’. 

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Although hovercraft - das Hovercraft - is also used widely, as with a lot of English nouns (think Der Hubschrauber or Der Helikopter for helicopter, Das Luftkissenfahrzeug was the original translation and is still used since the prototype (Luftkissengleitboot = air pillow boat) was first developed in Austria in the early 1900s. 

Austrian Dagobert Müller von Thomamühl worked on a prototype for military use, even developing a model which was armed with torpedoes, but shelved it due to difficulties and complications with the design. 

It was not until British inventor Christopher Cockerell worked on a continued research project in the 1950s that the current design was developed. 

In the present day, hovercrafts are used for commercial purposes and by fire and rescue departments across Germany. 

A 'Luftkissenfahrzeug' in action in Berlin in 2004. Photo: DPA

Examples:

Kommst du heute mit der Bahn? Oder mit dem Luftkissenfahrzeug?

Are you taking the train today? Or hovercraft? 

Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voll mit Aalen.

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My hovercraft is full of eels.

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