Why Are Cars Called Cars?
I was listening to Bob & Tom recently when I heard Chick McGee ask the question, "Why do they call cars, cars?" As the weekend commenced, I began to wonder the same thing.
As most curious things end up in my life, my mind wanders when my hands are idle, that question consumed me for a good couple of late-night hours. A quick search gave a quick answer, but the why continued deeper into the how. It was a rabbit hole, but here's the TL;DR version.
Car is apparently short for the Latin word Carrus, which meant "wheeled vehicle." I say "meant" because nobody speaks Latin anymore. At least, no countries speak Latin as a primary language anymore.
Side note, it's ridiculously challenging to type Latin in the first go... I keep having to back up and fix it because autocorrect keeps changing it to "Lawton." Now that you understand my struggle, we continue.
As car is believed to be adapted from Latin, and that would satisfy the imagination of most, but not me. You see, I thought initially that car may have been short for cart or carriage, but they're not one and the same either.
A cart is something moved by man. Before we had the wheelbarrow, there was the cart. On the other hand, the carriage is a wheeled platform that is pulled by livestock, horses, oxen, and such. Carriages were in America long before cars, so maybe that's where it came from.
There in lies the shenanigans.
Historians can't quite decide where the term "car" came from. It's believed to have come from Latin just as much as it's believed to have come from carriage or cart, and nobody can agree on it. So much so, they pretty much use both as the example of where it could have possibly originated.
On the flip side, be glad society didn't stick on any of the names history tried to slander the automobile with.
From Jalopnik.com: Autobaine, Autokenetic, Autometon, Automotor horse, Buggyaut, Diamote, Horseless carriage, Mocole, Motor carriage, Motorig, Motor-vique, Oleo locomotive, Truckle, and Henry Ford's own submission - Quadracycle.
Looking at that as a reference, I think it's safe to say, Latin can't claim the origins of the word Car. Carriage for the win.