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, etc., 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 horticulture. (See Aeronautics, and Flight and Flying).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)