Car manufacturers with Latin names. Volvo and the others

As you can find out just about anywhere, 'volvo' means 'I roll' in Latin. It is not even precisely known what educated Swede came up with this name for the nascent car company. The funny thing is that this form is quite rare in Classical Latin. Even when it is used (just 20 times or so in the database that I searched) it appears in order to demonstrate some grammatical point. Priscianus is particularly fond of this form, as he is responsible for at least half a dozen of these occurrences. Add a few other grammarians (Cassiodorus, Charisius, Marius Victorinus and even Servius) and that's pretty much all we have for 'volvo' in Classical Latin!

Company names are so recognizable as such and so familiar sounding that it takes a special effort to notice their Latin roots. I trust these little snippets of corporate Latin may be useful for teaching Latin. One root at a time. Something along the lines of "see, children, how important Latin is? If you ever start a car company you will need a logo, so you better know your Latin."

Audi - "Hear!".

Fiat - "Let it be!"
This one is, of course, reminiscent of Genesis 1.3: Dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux.

Infiniti - Nominal Plural of "infinitus" 'boundless, endless, unlimited'. Technically, this can also be Genetive Sing., but that would not make much sense.

Lotus - "Lotus". This common plant name also means 'washed, clean' and in some cases may be taken to mean 'fashionable, luxurious, fine etc'.

Volvo - "I roll".

Quantum - a new brand, Quantum Sports Cars. The Latin word simply means "how many?," but the name of this company is probably derived from the more advanced sense found in modern physics. Quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Basically, the word just sounds pretty.

There is also a plethora of extinct car manufacturers with names like Aquilla, Astra etc. These are only interesting in an academic sense, because the lack of familiarity makes these car makers useless for didactic purposes.

  • #latin language
  • #mottos