In some countries, airships are also known as dirigibles from the French (diriger to direct plus -ible), meaning "directable" or steerable. The first airships were called dirigible balloons. Over time, the word balloon was dropped from the phrase. In modern usage, balloon refers to any buoyant aircraft that generally relies on wind currents for horizontal movement, and usually has a mechanism to control vertical movement.
The term zeppelin is a genericised trademark that originally referred to airships manufactured by the German Zeppelin Company. The word Luftschiff, German for "airship", usually prefixed their crafts' names. In modern common usage, the termszeppelin, dirigible and airship are used interchangeably for any type of rigid airship, with the term blimp alone used to describe non-rigid airships. Although the blimp also qualifies as a "dirigible", the term is seldom used with blimps. In modern technical usage, airshipis the term used for all aircraft of this type, with zeppelin referring only to aircraft of that manufacture, and blimp or blimps referring only to non-rigid airships.
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