1. an electric skateboard; also called a self-balancing scooter
2. in science fiction, a type of skateboard that hovers above the ground
Origin and usage
The word hoverboard is a relatively modern term. Hover derives from the 15th century word ‘hoveren’ meaning ‘hover, linger’ while board is even older, coming from the Old English ‘bord’, a word of Germanic origin. Its first English usage dates back to 1967 when it appeared in a science fiction novel, The Hole in the Zero by British-born novelist M.K. Joseph. The word hoverboard was further popularized in the 1989 film Back to the Future.
Hoverboard refers to a recreational vehicle similar to a skateboard in size and shape. Sometimes called a self-balancing scooter, a true hoverboard does not actually hover or float. Instead, a hoverboard has two large wheels separated by a long board, is powered by battery and electricity, and allows riders to move across the ground without pedalling or pushing off with their feet. In science fiction films and television shows, hoverboards are usually shown floating above the ground. For the most part, these fictional hoverboards do not exist.
A French inventor, however, has brought science fiction closer to reality by developing a hoverboard that allows riders to fly as high as 10,000 feet in the air with a top speed of roughly 130 kilometres per hour. Called the Ezfly, the hoverboard uses jet thrusters to lift off the ground and appears fairly easy for a single rider to control, based on video clips recently posted online. The Ezfly hoverboard can be steered by simply shifting body weight, much like riding a Segway.
“He chattered on about girls and riverside dancehalls and hoverboard skating, and seemed to look with pleasure on Paradine, who was smugly daydreaming about the report which would be lying on Number One’s desk after lunch.”
(M.K. Joseph, The Hole in the Zero)