"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 28 September 2009



Without going into the difference between Hackney Cabs and Private Hire vehicles - one of those wonderful distinctions in English law - I thought I would blog about where the word cab came from.

Cab is a contraction of the word Cabriolet - a one horse carriage - which in turn comes from the Italian Capriola which means a caper or the leaping of young goats. This was a reference to the lightness of the carriage compared to its heavy lumbering predecessors.

The Hansom cab was first designed and patented in 1834 by English architect Joseph Hansom. Originally known as the Hansom Safety Cab, its purpose was to combine speed with safety, with a low center of gravity for safe cornering. The horse-drawn cab enjoyed popularity in the United Kingdom until the 1920's, when cheap automobile transport and the construction of reliable mass-transport systems led to a decline in usage. The last license for a horse-drawn cab in London was issued in 1947.

Its replacement - the modern black 'horseless carriage' - is a well-known symbol of the city.

1 comment:

  1. We have just noticed lately that many of the "shuttle" vehicles have started putting the words "livery car" on them. Interesting that these terms were not labeled on them before!