This article is about the device. For sports involving a parachute, see Parachuting. For other meanings, see Parachute (disambiguation).
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon. Parachutes must slow an object's terminal vertical speed by a minimum 75% in order to be classified as such. Depending on the situation, parachutes are used with a variety of loads, including people, food, equipment, space capsules, and bombs.
Drogue chutes are used to aid horizontal deceleration of a vehicle (a fixed-wing aircraft, or a drag racer), or to provide stability (cetain types of light aircraft in distress; tandem free-fall; or a space shuttle after a touchdown).
The word "parachute" comes from the French prefix paracete, originally from the Greek, meaning to protect against, and chute, the French word for "fall", and it was originally coined, as a hybrid word which meant literally "that which protects against a fall", by the French aeronaut François Blanchard (1753–1809) in 1785.