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Home / History / The Word ‘Automobile” First Used by the NYT 114 Years Ago



The New York Times first used the word automobile 114 years ago this January 3 in an editorial against the vehicle.

Though it would take some time still for the word “automobile” to become the standard name for, well, the automobile, the publishing of the word in the newspaper in 1899 did help speed up this adoption process. The word had been used by some at least as early as seven months previous when it appeared in a Scientific American article along with some advertisements.

Eventually, “automobile” would replace such gems as benzene buggy, quadracycle, and autocar.


About the author: Andrew Greene


Now playing the role of grumpy old man in the foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country, Andrew has had a life-long love affair with vehicles of all sorts, from the bicycle he pedaled across the continent in 1991 to the armored personnel carriers he drove in the Army to the bamboo rafts, elephants, motorcycle taxis, ferries and buses he traveled by during the 13 years he lived and worked in South East Asia. Always eager to learn more about how the people of the world get from here to there in their day-today lives, he, a professional journalist, has been covering the vehicle industry for years.


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