Etymology
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helicopter (n.)
Origin and meaning of helicopter

1861, from French hélicoptère "device for enabling airplanes to rise perpendicularly," thus "flying machine propelled by screws." From a Latinized combining form of Greek helix (genitive helikos) "spiral" (see helix) + pteron "wing" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").

The idea was to gain lift from spiral aerofoils, and it didn't work. Used by Jules Verne and the Wright Brothers, the word was transferred to helicopters in the modern sense by 1918 when those began to be developed. Nativized in Flemish as wentelwiek "with rotary vanes."

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heliport (n.)

1944, from helicopter + second element abstracted from airport.

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heli- 

in helipad, heliport, etc., a modern word-forming element meaning "helicopter," abstracted ignorantly from helicopter (q.v.), which is properly helico- + -pter.

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*wel- (3)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to turn, revolve," with derivatives referring to curved, enclosing objects.

It forms all or part of: archivolt; circumvolve; convoluted; convolution; devolve; elytra; evolution; evolve; Helicon; helicopter; helix; helminth; lorimer; ileus; involve; revolt; revolution; revolve; valve; vault (v.1) "jump or leap over;" vault (n.1) "arched roof or ceiling;" volte-face; voluble; volume; voluminous; volute; volvox; volvulus; vulva; wale; walk; wallet; wallow; waltz; well (v.) "to spring, rise, gush;" welter; whelk; willow.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit valate "turns round," ulvam "womb, vulva;" Lithuanian valtis "twine, net," vilnis "wave," apvalus "round;" Old Church Slavonic valiti "roll, welter," vlŭna "wave;" Greek eluein "to roll round, wind, enwrap," eilein "twist, turn, squeeze; revolve, rotate," helix "spiral object;" Latin volvere "to turn, twist;" Gothic walwjan "to roll;" Old English wealwian "roll," weoloc "whelk, spiral-shelled mollusk;" Old High German walzan "to roll, waltz;" Old Irish fulumain "rolling;" Welsh olwyn "wheel."

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*pet- 

Also petə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to rush, to fly." 

It forms all or part of: accipiter; appetence; appetite; apterous; apteryx; archaeopteryx; asymptote; centripetal; Coleoptera; compete; competent; eurypterid; feather; helicopter; hippopotamus; Hymenoptera; impetigo; impetuous; impetus; iopterous; Lepidoptera; ornithopter; panache; panne; pen (n.1) "writing implement;" pennon; peripeteia; perpetual; perpetuity; petition; petulance; petulant; pin; pinion; pinnacle; pinnate; pinniped; potamo-; potamology; propitiation; propitious; ptero-; pterodactyl; ptomaine; ptosis; repeat; symptom.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pattram "wing, feather, leaf," patara- "flying, fleeting;" Hittite pittar "wing;" Greek piptein "to fall," potamos "river, rushing water," pteron, pteryx "feather, wing," ptilon "soft feathers, down, plume;" Latin petere "to attack, assail; seek, strive after; ask for, beg; demand, require," penna "feather, wing;" Old Norse fjöðr, Old English feðer "feather;" Old Church Slavonic pero "feather;" Old Welsh eterin "bird."

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medevac 

"military helicopter for taking wounded soldiers to a hospital," 1966, U.S. military, formed from elements of medical evacuation.

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automotive (adj.)

"pertaining to automobiles," 1898, a hybrid from auto- "self," from Greek, and motive (adj.), from Latin. Used earlier as a noun (1865) in reference to some sort of helicopter-like device.

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egg-beater (n.)

also eggbeater, 1828, "instrument having a piece to be twirled by the hand, for use in whipping eggs," from egg (n.) + beater. Slang sense of "helicopter" is by 1937 from notion of whirling rotation.

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whirl (v.)

c. 1300, probably from Old Norse hvirfla "to go round, spin," related to hvirfill "circle, ring, crown," and to Old English hweorfan "to turn" (see wharf). Related: Whirled; whirling. Whirlybird "helicopter" is from 1951.

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