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German word of the day: Das Luftkissenfahrzeug

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German word of the day: Das Luftkissenfahrzeug
17:50 CET+01:00
Today’s word of the day is quite a mouthful. Even some Germans know it better by its English name.

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’. 

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


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

Are you taking the train today? Or hovercraft? 

Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voll mit Aalen.

My hovercraft is full of eels.

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