Thursday, November 21, 2013

The origin of the word "gasoline"

[In 1859], oil was struck in Pennsylvania. John Cassell, publisher, coffee merchant, and social campaigner, was soon importing the new and wonderful stuff to London. New and wonderful stuff demands a new and wonderful word so Cassell devised one, inspired presumably by his own name: cazeline

Cassell was soon supplying shops across England and Ireland. Business boomed. Then, in Ireland, sales began mysteriously to fall away. Cassell discovered a shopkeeper in Dublin, Samuel Boyd, selling counterfeit cazeline and wrote to him to ask him to stop. Boyd did not reply but instead went through his stock, changing with a single dash of his pen, every ‘C’ into a ‘G’: gazeline was born...

Boyd claimed he had coined gazeline himself in 1862, from the French word gasogène (which is a device for producing fizzy water), and ordered his own labels. But, he said, the labels had been misprinted. The coincidence of Boyd’s printers producing in error the name of the market leader was more than the judge could believe and he ruled for Cassell.

Yet cazeline did not endure. Its latest mention so far found is from 1920. It was gazeline (or gasoline) which flourished.

Found on

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