1. a folding, umbrellalike, fabric device with cords supporting a harness or straps for allowing a person, object, package, etc., to float down safely through the air from a great height, especially from an aircraft, rendered effective by the resistance of the air that expands it during the descent and reduces the velocity of its fall.
  2. parachute brake.
  3. Horology. a shockproofing device for the balance staff of a watch, consisting of a yielding, springlike support for the bearing at either end.
  4. Informal.
    1. the aggregate of benefits, as severance pay or vacation pay, given an employee who is dismissed from a company.
    2. golden parachute.

verb (used with object), par·a·chut·ed, par·a·chut·ing.

  1. to drop or land (troops, equipment, supplies, etc.) by parachute.

verb (used without object), par·a·chut·ed, par·a·chut·ing.

  1. to descend by parachute.


    1. a device used to retard the fall of a man or package from an aircraft, consisting of a large fabric canopy connected to a harness
    2. (as modifier)parachute troops Sometimes shortened to: chute See also brake parachute


  1. (of troops, supplies, etc) to land or cause to land by parachute from an aircraft
  2. (in an election) to bring in (a candidate, esp someone well known) from outside the constituency

n.1784 (the year the use of one first was attempted, in Paris), from French parachute, literally “that which protects against a fall,” hybrid coined by French aeronaut François Blanchard (1753-1809) from para- “defense against” (see para- (2)) + chute “a fall” (see chute). PARACHUTE, a kind of large and strong umbrella, contrived to break a person’s fall from an airballoon, should any accident happen to the balloon at a high elevation. [“Supplement to the Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,” Philadelphia, 1803] v.1807, from parachute (n.). Related: Parachuted; parachuting.

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