Where Did ‘Car’ Come from?

Buying a car

Cars are a common sight today but about a century ago they were few and far between, where roads were primarily filled with people, wagons, and carriages. So where did the word ‘car’ come from?


The word can be traced back all the way to Gaulish, a Celtic language. This language was spoken in Gaul, or what we call France today. When the Romans conquered Gaul, they borrowed some of the words the Gauls used. One of these words was ‘karros’ or ‘wagon’, which the Romans wrote as ‘carrus’ in Latin, with the plural form ‘carra’. However, the Romans used this word exclusively to refer to four wheeled wagons.

Wagon Car
The precursor of the car: two wagons pulled by a steam engine.

Introduction to English

When the Normans invaded England in the 11th Century, the word ‘carra’ had become ‘carre’. This word then entered Middle English (around Shakespeare’s time) as ‘carre’ but it was likely pronounced ‘kar’ by this point. So later on people changed the spelling to better reflect how it was pronounced. If only this happened for all English words. You might have noticed that ‘carriage’ also has the word ‘car’ in it. Unfortunately, the word ‘carriage’ is entirely unrelated to the word ‘car’ but is related to the word ‘carry’ instead. Isn’t it strange how words can change their meaning over time and still end up looking somewhat similar? If you know where to look, these coincidences are everywhere, even cross-linguistically.

Carriage not car
The word ‘carriage’ comes from the word ‘carry’ and has nothing to do with ‘car’.

So there you have it! From the Celtic Gaulish word ‘karros’, to Latin ‘carra’ to Middle English ‘carre’, the word ‘car’ has come a long way! And if you’re looking to drive someone in a new car or to retire your old car, you can try checking myTukar out!

Sell your car

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button