Why do Americans call fuel ‘gas’?

Posted on March 27, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In ancient America, they used Gas cylinders in cars as a prime source of fuel. That worked for sometime until there were men driving around in cars and women had no cylinders left at home to cook food. They eventually beat their husbands to pulp and took back the cylinder to where it originally belonged. The men geared up to discover new ‘gas’ and thus mankind has better living conditions today because of the sanity of women. As for the name ‘gas’, it got stuck with any fuel associated with the car as a remembrance. If you are reading patiently until now, I am gathering by now that you have never visited America.

Gas in India has various meanings. You could get ‘gas’ by visiting a Gujarati wedding and gorging on dhokalas, undius and misals. The silent version of this ‘gas’ invariably makes others around you crinkle their noses in disgust. The noisy version is likely to leave you embarrassed and a butt of jokes in many future occasions.

Gas in India is also a common term for cooking gas or LPG.  It’s fairly common to see the ‘gaswallas’ cycling the blood-red cylinders around the city to supply gas. Because there are so many confusing meanings for gas in India, we prefer to call the car fuel petrol.

Gas, in ‘Amrica’, my friend, is short for Gasoline. Americans have a way of ‘Americanizing’ things… this term is a result of such creativity. The word “gasolene” was coined in 1865 from the word gas and the chemical suffix -ine/-ene. The modern spelling was first used in 1871. The shortened form “gas” was first recorded in American English in 1905. Gasoline originally referred to any liquid used as the fuel for a gasoline-powered engine, other than diesel fuel or liquefied gas; methanol racing fuel would have been classed as a type of gasoline.

The word “petrol” was first used in reference to the refined substance as early as 1892 (it was previously used to refer to unrefined petroleum), and was registered as a trade name by British wholesaler Carless, Capel & Leonard.

Most Commonwealth countries or former Commonwealth countries, with the exception of Canada, use the term “petrol” (abbreviated from petroleum spirit). The term “gasoline” is commonly used in North America where it is often shortened in colloquial usage to “gas”. This should be distinguished in usage from genuinely gaseous fuels used in internal combustion engines such as liquefied petroleum gas (which is stored pressurised as a liquid but is allowed to return naturally to a gaseous state before combustion).

Have you heard the word mogas? Its short for motor gasoline and distinguishes automobile fuel from aviation gasoline, or avgas. The word “gasoline” can also be used in British English to refer to a different petroleum derivative historically used in lamps; however, this use is now uncommon.

That’s enough on gas for now. Uff… What’s that smell??


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