Taxi [origin of word]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Claudio Gerhardt, May 19, 2005.

  1. Claudio Gerhardt New Member

    Brazil - Portuguese
    What's the origin of the word "TAXI"?
  2. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
  3. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    From the OED Online:
    EDIT: The date of first recorded use is 1907 from the Daily Chronical:

  4. sunyaer Senior Member

    The word "taxi" also has this meaning: To move slowly on the ground or on the surface of the water before takeoff
    or after landing.

    What is the origin of this meaning?
  5. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    I've always wondered this myself. It looks like it was aircraft slang that was adopted very soon after the motor vehicle use, as the OED gives these earliest dates:

    1907 'taxi' meaning a car for hire
    1911 'taxi' meaning a small passenger aeroplane [not used today]
    1911 'taxi' meaning driving an aeroplane along a runway
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Hmm... on first sight and after a not-too-helpful trip to the OED, the idea of to taxi = Of an aeroplane, etc., or its pilot: to travel slowly along the ground or water under the machine's own power. (my emphasis) is first recorded

    "1911 Aeroplane 8 June 8/1 "The only way to get [his] 'bus into the air is to ‘taxi’ to the sewage farm remou and get pulled off the ground by it!"

    The verb seems to have come from the idea that taxis were distinguished from the various earlier, but then present, forms of horse-drawn cab, by the fact that they were "horseless" (cf 'horseless carriage' - an early term for a car) and moved by themselves - i.e. under their own power.

    Thus to taxi was used to mean "under its own power" as opposed to "be towed/pulled/pushed by something else."
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  7. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Is there no relation to the Greek ταχύ-ς (tachus) "swift" (as in "tachycardia")? I've found no documentation for this, but it would seem almost obvious.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  8. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    I would not have thought so, as the definition of to taxi involves, "slowly"
  9. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    I was thinking more of its beginning with "taxi-cab," a vehicle which allows one to move faster (than walking). The taxiing an airplane does, while slower than taking off or landing is still rapid compared to walking. But there's also the Greek "τάξις" (taxis) meaning arrangement, order, which seems to have little to do with vehicles.
  10. Christopher Reid

    Christopher Reid New Member

    The origin of Cab is abbreviation of Cabriolet (Shorter OED 1973 edn.). Orig. horse drawn passenger vehicle for public hire. Taxi is shortened version of taxi(meter)-cab. To taxi is to travel in a taxi-cab.

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