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aerial +‎ -ist



aerialist (plural aerialists)

  1. An acrobat performing high off the ground, defying a fall to earth, as on a trapeze or a tightrope.
    • 1879, Edward Dusseault, “Recollections of Other Days,” Ballou’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 50, No. 6, December, 1879, p. 564,[1]
      [] I chanced once, when I called during the day, to meet at the rehearsal M’lle Clarisse, the aerialist [] I looked at her carefully, and I could not divest myself of the impression that she was, in spite of her compact and strongly built little frame, much too delicate and fragile a person to go flying through the air from trapeze to trapeze.
    • 1959, Peter De Vries, The Tents of Wickedness, Boston: Little Brown, Chapter 14, p. 210,[2]
      Of the two ways of making love, adultery must seem the safer, as the aerialist engaged in it swings to an eventual stop, or else lands in marriage itself which is strung out protectively under the highwire. Whereas a man failing in marriage has nothing to break the tumble.
    • 1969, Anne Sexton, “Eighteen Days Without You,” December 14th, in The Complete Poems, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, pp. 216-217,[3]
      The migratory birds
      have flown the coop
      but they’ll be back
      with their built-in compass.
      They’ll come back the way
      the circus does each year—
      with aerialists, our angular
      birds that loop the loop.
    • 2015, John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries, New York: Simon & Schuster, Chapter 16,
      There was a good-looking Argentinian couple standing in the open flap of their tent. They were aerialists, checking over each other’s harnesses, testing the strength of the metal grommets where the guy wires would be attached to them.
    • 2022 October 13, Constant Méheut, “With Leaps and Bounds, Parkour Athletes Turn Off the Lights in Paris”, in The New York Times[4], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Videos of their feats, showing Spiderman-like aerialists clinging to stone facades and balcony edges before plunging streets into darkness with the flick of an elevated switch, have been popular on social media since the start of the trend.
  2. (skiing) A specialist in aerials, a freestyle skiing discipline.
    • 2022 March 4, John Branch, “He Won an Olympic Silver for Ukraine. Now He’s Hiding in a Kyiv Garage.”, in The New York Times[5]:
      Abramenko, a top aerialist in freestyle skiing, a five-time Olympian and the country’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony, garnered more attention after the event, when a photograph of his hug with a Russian rival was widely circulated.
  3. (obsolete) One who operates a flying machine; a balloonist or aviator.
    • 1803, A Dictionary of the Wonders of Art, London: T. Hurst, entry “Aeronautics,” p. 32,[6]
      The balloon, however, having been torn in the lower part, both the cords and netting of the railing of the car broke, the wind again forced away the gentlemen from the tree they were strongly clasping; but with the assistance of a new, though last exertion, the aerialists had an opportunity of leaving the car and balloon, which fell upwards of 200 yards farther.
    • 1910, Homestead, Volume 55, No. 3, 20 January, 1910 p. 8,[7]
      The Frenchman, Paulhan, made several spectacular flights, but it is noticeable that while the American aerialists are less spectacular they are doing more to further the art of flying.
  4. (obsolete, rare) A person whose knowledge of agriculture is purely academic and not derived from experience. [late 18th—early 19th centuries]
    • 1825, John Claudius Loudon, An Encyclopaedia of Agriculture, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, Volume 2, p. 1133,[8]
      Book farmers, the aerialists of Marshal, are those who know agriculture only by reading about it.



Related terms[edit]