2 September 2014

What’s in a name?

We all have owned cars that evoke memories. One mention of their names can flood our minds with images of happier times. But more often than you realize, car and truck names have meanings that their manufacturers never intended.

Cracking open the dictionary reveals what your car or truck’s name really means and their unintended consequences. Here is a sampling of past and present car names, their definition and the automaker that uses them.

Avalon: Celtic legend, the isle of the dead where King Arthur and other knights are taken after death. (Toyota)
Belvedere: A summer house or open-sided gallery positioned to command a fine view. (Plymouth)
Caprice: A sudden and unaccountable change in mood or behavior. (Chevrolet)
Cayman: or caiman, a Central and South American crocodile. (Porsche)
Charger: A large, flat platter. (Dodge)
Century: A period of 100 years. (Buick)
Citation: A quotation from or reference to a book or author. (Edsel, Chevrolet)
Civic: Relating to a city or town. (Honda)
Corsair: A privateer, especially one operating along the southern shore of the Mediterranean. (Kaiser-Frazer, Edsel)
Cooper: A person who makes or repairs casks or barrels. (Mini)
Corolla: The petals, or inner leaves, of a flower. (Toyota)
Coronet: A small, or simple, crown, especially worn by lesser royalty or nobles. (Dodge)
Cutlass: A short sword with a slightly curved bade. (Oldsmobile)
Electra: Greek mythological figure who persuaded her brother to kill their mother in revenge for the murder of their father. (Buick)
Equinox: the time or date at which the sun crosses the celestial equator and when day and night are of equal length. (Chevrolet)
Escalade: The scaling of fortified walls using ladders as a form of military attack. (Cadillac)
Eclipse: A sudden loss of power, prominence or significance. (Mitsubishi)
Fit: A seizure in which the victim loses consciousness. (Honda)
Golf: An outdoor game played on a large course with a small, hard ball and a set of clubs. (Volkswagen)
Gremlin: A mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for unexplained mechanical or electrical failures. (AMC)
Lancer: A soldier of a cavalry regiment armed with lances. (Dodge, Mitsubishi)
Lucerne: Another term for alfalfa. (Buick)
Magnum: A wine bottle twice the normal size, usually 1.5 liters. (Dodge)
Marathon: A long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles 385 yards. (Checker)
Marquis: A nobleman ranking above a count and below a duke. (Mercury)
Matrix: Womb, uterus. (Toyota)
Omni: In all ways or places. (Dodge)
Pacer: A competitor who sets the pace at the beginning of a race or competition. (AMC, Edsel)
Phantom: A figment of the imagination. (Rolls-Royce)
Sable: Another term for black. (Mercury)
Savoy: A cabbage of a hardy variety with densely wrinkled leaves. (Plymouth)
Touareg: A nomadic African tribe. (Volkswagen)
Tundra: A vast, flat, treeless Arctic region of Europe, Asia, and North America in which the subsoil is permanently frozen. (Toyota)
Vagabond: A vagrant. (Kaiser)
Vantage: A place or position affording a good view. (Aston Martin)
Venza: A close sound-alike to the Japanese word Benza, which means toilet seat. (Toyota)
Viper: a spiteful or treacherous person. (Dodge, SRT)
Wayfarer: A person who travels on foot. (Dodge)
Wrangler: A person who wrangles, or argues, especially in a contentious way. (Jeep)
Zephyr: A soft, gentle breeze. (Lincoln, Mercury)

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