the product naming blog

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September 23, 2005


Yellow TaxiEven if your only language is English, there's one word you can say in Basque, Czech, Dutch, French, Galician, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, and Valencian. To add Portuguese to the list, all you need is an accent over the "a". While you might misspell Turkish "taksi" or Japanese "takushi", you'll pronounce it just fine.

How did this word get to be so ubiquitous? "Taximeter" was the name Wilhelm Brun gave to his 1891 invention for measuring the distance traveled in a hired vehicle. Brun's classical education shows: "taximeter" comes from Medieval Latin taxa, meaning a tax or charge, and Greek metron, meaning "measure." The shortened form "taxi" first appeared in English in 1907.

KleenexXeroxBecause "Taxi" was a product name, it was imported intact into other languages along with the carriages and automobiles in which the taximeter was installed. Like "" or "," the taxi brand has been generalized, or has become a generic term, to include similar unbranded products.

Posted by Alwynn Gilgen at September 23, 2005 11:16 AM
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