Catchword’s Naming Manual – Part 8 of 10

By Laurel Sutton

December 5, 2008

Here’s another excerpt from our handy dandy naming manual – it’s like a car manual, only about naming! We’ll be posting 10 different sections on a weekly basis, so please come back every Friday for more. If you like what you see, please download a copy of your very own, or write to us and we’ll mail you a paper copy (it has a glossy cover!).


MORE CAR NAME THEMES Of all consumer brand names, car names are perhaps the most recognizable. Online, TV and print advertising make it hard to ignore the most exciting new “rides,” and daily commutes ensure real-life interactions with these brands. Who hasn’t heard of a Camaro? Responsibly considered an Accord? Dreamed of owning a Miata? So, what are the most common car name “Themes”– i.e, the concepts, messages or constructions used most frequently? For the fun of it, we did a bit of research (actually, a whole lot of research) and provide below the results of our investigation. Theme: CELESTIAL The quintessential name: SATURN (yeah, we know, it’s a company, not a car) It’s no surprise that many cars have been named for the heavens and its myriad creations. Speed, innovation, exploration, inclusiveness, reliability, movement and timelessness are just a few associations one can have with the sky and all its celestial inhabitants. And, even though the Celestial theme has been used less frequently than the Luxury, Performance or Placenames themes, just about every name construct has been applied to this theme. Consider that there are real-word celestial names (e.g., Taurus), coined celestial names (e.g., Telstar), composite celestial names (e.g., Star Chief), and non-English celestial names (e.g., Comète – French for Comet)! Perhaps our favorite coined celestial name is Celica. Supposedly coined from the Latin coelica meaning “heavenly or celestial”, the name is both otherworldly sounding and at the same time highly communicative of acceleration and speed. It’s abstract enough to allow for flexibility in meaning and identity, but suggestive enough of a key benefit of the vehicle. Smart naming, Toyota!

Pontiac Firebird Probably a reference to the Phoenix
Toyota Alphard Brightest star in Hydra
Buick Apollo Son of Zeus; the American space program
Saturn Astra Latin for “star”
Toyota Celica Derived from the Latin word coelica, meaning “heavenly” or “celestial”
Mercury Comet Celestial object with a tail of gas
Ford Comete French for “comet”
Toyota Cressida Woman of Troy who left her Trojan lover
Buick Electra Vengeful daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra
Volkswagen Eos Greek goddess of the dawn
Ford Galaxie French for “galaxy”
Chevy Nova Brightening of a star; shortening of Latin nova stella, “new star”
Ford Orion A giant hunter who changed into a constellation upon his death
Nissan Pulsar Derived from “pulsating star” – a star that emits regular pulses of radio waves
Saturn Saturn 6th planet of our solar system
Ford Scorpio Eighth sign of the zodiac
Pontiac Star Chief Composite name suggesting a commanding star
Ford Taurus The bull constellation
Ford Telstar The first of active communications satellites launched in 1962
Nissan Titan Any of the older Greek gods who preceded the Olympians
Chevy Vega The fifth brightest star in the sky
Toyota Yaris Derived from Charis, a Greek goddess of beauty and elegance
Toyota Isis Egyptian goddess of fertility
Ford Meteor A celestial object that becomes incandescent upon entering our atmosphere
Ford Zodiac The belt of the heavens comprised of the 12 different divisions or signs
Pontiac Phoenix The bird that rises from its ashes with renewed youth

Last week: Car Name Themes

Next week: Yet More Car Name Themes

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