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Le Canard?

I came across the French word canard while on Duolingo today, and it struck me that "canard" is also an English term. In aviation, a canard is a small winglike control surface sometimes attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing -- often found on supersonic fighter jets like the Eurofighter -- to aid stability and control. Interestingly, a canard can also refer to an unfounded rumor or story. Somehow I'm having just having a bit of difficulty connecting a duck with a rumor with a control surface...just wondering if there is an interesting correlation between the three?

January 11, 2016



This is fascinating. In my culture, there is a story about a boy tending a flock of ducks. A stranger walks by and sees him crying. The stranger asks, "what's wrong?" The boy says that his mom is sick and needs money for medicine. Only if he could sell this flock of ducks he would have the money. The stranger feels bad and buys the ducks. After getting the money, the boy disappears immediately. The stranger goes to the field to lure the ducks home and is surprised to see all of them lift off and disappear into the sky. Apparently they aren't ducks at all but wild geese. So buying a duck is also buying a lie.


Interesting! That might explain the "unfounded rumor or story" definition.


As far as I know the term “canard” arose from the appearance of the early plane by Santos-Dumont 14-bis of 1906, which was said to be reminiscent of a duck (canard in French) with its neck stretched out in flight.

This resemblance came about because the plane was a pusher design with its wings to the rear, its fuselage extending forwards and carrying its control surfaces at the front (forming a box like structure)

By extension and exclusion Canard came to limited to control surfaces placed at the front of the fuselage even if that did not produce a "duck like" silhouette


Wild Goose Chase for the rumor bit. As for the aircraft bit, I'd think all birds would alter the depth of front part of their wing to control altitude and stability. Why they chose ducks in particular, I couldn't say.

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