This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
No-one is quite sure; the prevalling opinion is that it was invented by either th e aviator Horace Shortt (Illustrated London News 1918: Nobody in the R.N.A.S. ever called them anything but ‘Blimps’, an onomatopœic name invented by that genius for apposite nomenclature, the late Horace Shortt) or one Lieut. A.D. Cunningham (as suggested in the journal Aeroplane, Oct. 5 1951). It is suppoedly an elision of 'blister' and 'limp, a theory advanced, somewhat surprisingly, by none of ther than J.R.R. Tolkien.ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Jonathon Green