In the 1860s, there was an Englishman named John Cassell marketing a kind of petroleum for powering lamps, named cazeline after himself. Much to his chagrin, a guy in Dublin, named John Boyd, was also selling cazeline, and when Cassell accused him of this, he denied it, going through his stock and changing every c to a g, creating the word gazeline. Cassell took him to court, and won, but it was too late: the name had stuck. Eventually, the z got switched to an s, and the e to an o. Curiously, in Jamaica and Australia, many have also started spelling it gasolene. Going in depth a bit further, back when Cassell sold his petroleum, he used an existing suffix -elene, which meant "oil" and comes from Greek elaia, "olive" (which might have Proto-Hellenic and Pre-Mediterranean sources). Later, gasoline was shortened to gas, which means that the word for what powers your car and the word for the state of helium at STP are theoretically unconnected (though the former definitely was, in part, influenced by the latter). Whoa.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.