In writing yesterday's post on capricorn, I stumbled on the very unusual etymology of cab, which I simply have to share today. This synonym for "taxi" was coined in 1826 as a London slang clipping of the word cabriolet, which at the time referred to a two-wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse. This, through French, came from Italian capriola, meaning "jump", which is in reference to the springy suspensions of the cabriolets. However, it could also mean "jump of a kid goat", which makes sense when you consider that its etymon, Latin caper, means "goat" (and, yes, is the same as the root in capricorn). This, as we've seen, comes from Proto-Indo-European kapros, meaning "buck". So we went from an adult goat to a baby goat to a goat jump to a jump to a carriage to a taxi. Etymology is awesome!
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.