Let’s get back to the car business. We know a lot of the car companies are named after their founders – the trend was spread worldwide from the earliest electric automobiles. These include Ford (after Henry Ford), Peugeot (after the Peugeot family), also later Bentley (after Walter Owen Bentley), Porsche (after Ferdinand Porsche). The trend is also present in Asia by car manufacturers like Toyota (after Kiichiro Toyoda) and Honda (after Soichiro Honda).
However, there are still original company names between the world-wide known brands in the car industry. The naming strategy is often so unique that they cannot be put in categories. But Audi and Volvo can. Can you guess what the connection between those two famous car companies is in terms of naming? Latin.
Volvo – on the different car company names
Despite that Volvo is a Swedish company the founders didn’t name the car Viking or Nordic or anything like that. They decided on the Latin word volvere, meaning to roll. It seems a logical word choice since the purpose of working on a Swedish car project was to build cars that could withstand the cold Scandinavian weather and uneven roads – basically a car that rolls. What they did is only conjugate the verb volvere in first person (because unlike in English many other languages use similar but still different words when saying I roll, you roll, etc) and voilà – you have Volvo. It’s like the car speaks to you – I roll.
Audi – on the translated car company names
The reason for naming the famous car company Audi isn’t that spontaneous compared to Volvo. The truth is that the founder August Horch (and no the AU in Audi doesn’t come from the first two letters of the founder’s name) had originally founded another car company named August Horch & Co. This happened in 1904 when the German engineer had quit working for Karl Benz. However, after some problems in the company, in 1909 Horch founded a second company – but his family name could not be used again as a name for the company because he didn’t have the rights on the company name. The story says that one of his business partners’ son came up with the name Audi. But this wasn’t a random Latin word that simply starts with the letter A (as you may know by now from our blog posts having a company name that starts with A is great because you get listed early in alphabetically ordered lists). If you speak German you’ll know that horch comes from the infinitive form of horchen and actually has a meaning – to listen (carefully). Now, can you guess what the Latin translation of horchen is? It’s audire – a verb that when conjugated in the same form as horch, becomes audi. The name seemed logical since August Horch could no longer use his own name. And a little more than 100 years later Audi is still one of the most popular names in the car industry.
If you are interested in learning more naming stories about car brands and models you can check out our car-related naming articles on Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti, the currently most expensive car Lykan, the latest Rolls-Royce Wraith model, or an article on translated top 10 dog names and their meaning.