Names for Kites from Around the World

In each country or culture where kites have been used, the people there developed special names for them. These names reflected the ideas that people had about their kites, they way they looked, or the reasons they flew them

In English, the word “kite” is also the name of a graceful bird. The Kite Society of great Britain has adopted a “kite” bird that resides in the London Zoo.

In Japan, kites are flown with long bridle lines and tails. it is not surprising that the Japanese word “tako” also means octopus.

In France, kites are made with many spars and sticks. The word “cerf volant” is also the name used for antlers on their deer.

In Mexico, the word for kite is “papalote”. That’s also the Mexican word for butterfly.

In the South African language of Afrikaner, kites care called “vlieers”.This is very similar to the Dutch word ” vlieger”. But remember that the first European settlers in South Africa were from Holland.

In Germany, the first windsocks were in the shape on animals and often had small fires lit inside the head to frighten enemies. Kites – which grew from windsocks – are now called “drachen” which means dragon.

Here are some common names for kites from around the world. Maybe you can discover the meaning or the ideas behind some more of these words that people have used to describe our flying machines.

  • Afrikaans (South Africa) – Vlieers
  • Belgian – Plakwaaier
  • Chinese – Fung jung
  • Dutch – Vlieger
  • English – Kite
  • Estonian – Lohe
  • Finnish – Leija
  • French – Cerf volant
  • German – Drachen
  • Indonesia – Layang-layang
  • Italian – Aquilone
  • Japanese – Tako
  • Korean – Youn
  • Mexican – Papalote
  • Norwegian & Danish – Drage
  • Portuguese – Pipas
  • Philippines – Saranggola
  • Russian – Letuchij zmeij
  • Serbo-Croat – Zmaj
  • Spanish – Cometas
  • Swedish – Drake
  • Thai – Wau
  • American Sign Language – If you are right handed, take your left hand index finger, and point (touching) to the center of your right wrist just below your right palm, with your palm flat (fingers extended to indicate a bigger kite). Your right thumb would normally be about 4-6 inches away from your right cheek, initially. At the same time wiggle your right hand while raising it higher, about 6-10 inches.