|A London black cab|
(photo by Nico Kaiser)
Noun. Early 19th century.
[Abbreviation of CABRIOLET.]
1(a) Historical. A hackney carriage. E19
1(b) A taxi. Also taxi-cab. L19
2 A driver of a cab. M19
3 A shelter or compartment for the driver or a train, lorry, crane, etc. M19
cabman a man who drivers a cab
cab-rank, cab-stand a place where cabs are authorized to wait.
|New York taxis in Time Square|
(photo by Tomas Fano)
Verb intrans. & trans. (with it). Inflected -bb-. Mid-19th century.
[from CAB noun.]
Travel in or drive a cab.
|A London cabman from 1877|
Noun. Mid-18th century.
[French, from CABRIOLE (see CAPRIOLE) + -ET.]
1 Chiefly Historical. A light two-wheeled hooded one-horse chaise. M18
2 A bonnet or hat shaped like a cabriolet. L18
3 A motor car with a folding top. E20
Catching a cab has always felt, and probably always will feel, like something of an indulgent luxury to me. I love that moment at the end of a great evening when you say "Oh let's just catch a cab!" which is, in effect, saying "To hell with the expense! Let's get driven home ... like kings!" Oh yeah. Now that's living.
If you've ever wondered about the origin of the word taxi, cab and taxi-cab, it's both quite simple and rather interesting. Taxi is an abbreviation of taximeter, the device that automatically calculates the passenger's fare (invented in 1891 by the German Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn if you want to get really nerdy about it). The word taximeter is itself borrowed from the French taximètre and German Taxameter, which came from Medieval Latin for tax or charge, and therefore literally means 'charge meter', which is good because that's exactly what it is. As for cab, this is an abbreviation of cabriolet, a type of horse-drawn carriage that was used as a taxi and later a word applied to early soft-top motor vehicles; taxi-cab is therefore self-explanatory.
As for taxis themselves, one should never underestimate the service they provide, and I always feel that a vital part of visiting a new country or city abroad is indulging in at least one taxi journey, especially when the cabs are part of the landscape, as are London's iconic black cabs or New York's yellow taxis. And the local knowledge a good cabbie can provide is unparalleled: a London cabbie, for example, has to have The Knowledge to obtain his licence, which involves memorising 320 routes, 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and points of interest, a cognitive feat so grueling it physically changes the cabbie's brain structure - something to remember when deciding how much you're going to tip. Finally, if you've never got into a taxi and said "Follow that car!", then you really must. As a fraud investigator, I've had the opportunity to do it on many occasions: cabbies love it, it makes you feel like you're in a movie, and it's something interesting to tell the trouble 'n strife when you get home.
Are you, or have you ever been, a cabbie?
Do you have The Knowledge?
Have you ever said "Follow that car!" to a cabbie?
Do please drop off your fare-minded comments below.