Aerodynamics comes from two Greek words: aer (air) and dinamike (dynamics).

In this link it says

The word “aerodynamics” itself was not officially documented until 1837

I don't know if that is correct. Did Sir George Cayley first use/invent this word or maybe Isaac Newton when he study the two external forces that operate on fluids, viscous shear friction and pressure?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OED also has 1837 as the first citation, but that's in an encyclopedia so not a novel coinage. It might well have been Cayley, but without written sources we'd just be speculating. $\endgroup$
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 22 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ That's better than google ngram viewer, which around then gives only one hit, in 1841. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22 at 22:11

2 Answers 2


In French, the word appeared in print in 1784 in a journal, Journal de l'Orléanois. In an article, the Société Royale de Physique d'Orléans, created 25 years ago, describes the different branches of mechanics to potential scholars. None of these branches seems to be a recent field:

enter image description here

Source: BnF

In a time following Les Lumières, the word was necessarily shared among European scientists, particularly those with a strong scientific culture. This would include England and its Royal Society, long before 1837. For reference, John Smeaton, a fellow of the Royal Society, described drag (Smeaton coefficient) in 1759 in Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion.

In France, aérodynamique found an official definition in 1835, in the technical supplement, published by lexicographer François Raymond, to the dictionary published by the authoritative Académie française. .

enter image description here

Source BnF

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe Isaac Newton when he study drag? $\endgroup$
    – 22flower
    Commented Apr 23 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @user707264: There is also Mariotte's prior work on drag, but they may have not used the term aerodynamics $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 23 at 19:57

In German, the word Aerodynamik is in print by 1780 in the Deutsche Encyclopädie oder Allgemeines Real-Wörterbuch aller Künste und Wissenschaften vol 3 under the entry for Baumeister (a builder / architect).

It also uses the newly-coined words Aerostatik, Hydrodynamik and Hydrostatik, and here is principally concerned with the effect strong winds can have on buildings.

German Encyclopedia

Die Aerostatik und Aerodynamik zeiget uns dei Größe des Windstoßes auf die Gebäude und deren Theile, durch deren Vernachlässigung schon viel Schaden geschehen — die Schwere und Würkung der Luft


In English the The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge published in London in 1833 has an entry for AERO-DYNAMICS. It also uses the word without a hyphen, so this is an earlier example than the Oxford English Dictionary provides.

Penny Cyclopaedia



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