In a future where technology has evolved and cars don't need wheels and can hover and fly, but retain the same: aesthetics, functions, affordability, and cost as the cars we have today just without wheels.

Would they:

  1. keep the name "car"?
  2. add the word "flying"?
  3. have an entirely new word?

(It's my first time in this amazing community so I hope I proposed my question correctly and worded it right - Thank you.)

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    $\begingroup$ I'm stopping anyone before they close for being "story-based". The querent is asking what is likely to develop, not what a character should do, therefore this is not story-based. As I see it, there are other, much more viable close reasons. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2022 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ This being said @Namelus (and anyone coming here with the same question), I doubt it's very wise to base the name of your technocars just solely on the answers here. As long as your name is clear and enticing, people will follow you and it'll actually make your world more interesting : Sky Deloreans, Rocket cars, Bumblebees, ... Being likely to develop doesn't mean you have to choose this for your world! $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2022 at 14:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena, what things should be named is not a story problem, it's a pure matter of taste and opinion. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 25, 2022 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Agreeing :). Recently I found out the definition of story-based diverged from the official closure post, including author's preferences. Probably worth a meta-post to see where we should go with that $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2022 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ I understand how this kind of query seems to just look for "opinions" --- but it reads as fairly clearly within the bounds of likelihood vs pure fancy. Languages evolve, yes, but they tend to evolve in broadly comprehensible directions. I concur with Tortilena. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 26, 2022 at 4:59

2 Answers 2



Much will really depend on the actual language and the culture in which that language is spoken. Some languages may prefer an entirely new word --- and some, indeed, will go out of their way to coin a new word for this object.

For English, I think it can be argued that we'll just continue calling it a "car" because it does what a car does. Northwestern Europeans have literally been using this same word to describe vehicles for the last 2200 years or so. Not much need to coin a new word!

"Flying car" is a possible alternative, as has been in use since the concept first arose in the mid-twentieth century. If such cars ever gain widespread use, I'd suspect that the modifier "flying" will fall into disuse the same way "motor" did once everyone stopped using horses to draw their cars!

  • $\begingroup$ This is literally what is happening right now: pal-v.com/en/press/worlds-first-flying-car-hits-the-road $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Nov 25, 2022 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan --- Yep. The car is (finally? again?) taking to the air! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 26, 2022 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ I think its a case of first its prototype took to the air, and now they are gearing up to sell the real deal to the public. I saw an actual billboard with one a month ago which was why I knew it was there (and not a high concept drawing). $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Nov 26, 2022 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ Ummm, maybe it should be called a 'horseless carriage' by your reasoning. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2022 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond --- No, car is fine, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 27, 2022 at 21:42

Yes and No to all three.

The word "Car" derives from the Latin word carrus or carrum, itself derived from the the Greek word karros. All of these terms are used to describe a wheeled vehicle. In English, the word was the basis for multiple types of wheeled vehicles, such as carts and carriages. When early modern cars were first introduce, British English used terms for the new contraption such as "Motor Carriage", "Auto Carriage", and "Horseless Carriage", though the latter two didn't catch on, it's clear that the name was derrived from the function it served (that of a carriage) coupled with the innovation in the engine of it's motion (I.E. it actually had and engine).

Of course, this being the Queen's English, we can't ignore the fact that the U.S. existed at the time nor their lovely ability to come up with new words to frustrate the English (actually many American English terms actually come from British English... the Americans just retained the original term while the Brits changed it after American adoption... though that might not be the case here). Either way, the American term does derive from carriage as well, but it seems to be that American's also invented a new word when the created the term "Automobile" which derives from the greek word "Auto" and the Latin word "Mobilius" and literally means "Self Moving". This is why Jeremy Clarkson will refer to the things related to cars as existing in "the world of motoring" while most Americans would feel more comfortable with describing this as "The world of automotives."

In all likely hood, the innovation of a personal vehicle that is similar in concept to George Jetson may start as being called a "Flying Car" or an "Aero car" early on when the concept is first introduced into the market, but might take on it's own name as the flying car replaces the car of our modern world, much as "Car" became the term accepted for the variations on comparing it to a horse drawn carriage.

And it's not unusual for terms to persist past the obscelecens of the old term. Many of the early commercially available cars were manufactured by business that built horse carriages. And the unit of power an engine outputs is measured in Horsepower. 1 HP is literally the amount of work exerted by a single draft horse.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We still ‘film’ and ‘tape’ video, while using neither film nor tape… $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 25, 2022 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster In computers, a picture of a floppy disk is still used for "save" buttons. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 25, 2022 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ indeed, many weird things in language evolution. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 25, 2022 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the research. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2022 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ "Many of the early commercially available cars were manufactured by business that built horse carriages." A bit of historical trivia, many of these factories made hundreds of these horse carriages a year, on ----- yep, an assembly line format using stock interchangeable parts, long before Ford supposedly came up with the 'original concept'. $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2022 at 3:09

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