JLR challenges the dictionary definition of a car

21 August 2019

JLR challenges the dictionary definition of a car

21 August 2019

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is challenging the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) when it comes to the official definition of a ′car'.

The company's I-Pace all-electric performance SUV is the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, strictly speaking, the zero-emission vehicle is not defined as a car at all in the English language.

The OED, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, defines a ′car' in its online dictionary as ′a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, especially for private, commercial, or leisure use.'

Moreover, the current definition of a ′car' on Oxford Dictionaries.com – a collection of dictionary websites produced by the Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford – is: ′A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.'

Changing times

To remedy the situation, Jaguar has submitted a formal application to the OED and OxfordDictionaries.com to have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles (EV). While this may be a promotional campaign for the I-PACE, it does raise a good point over the definition of a car and the need to update the language beyond simple realisation.

′A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer-friendly, so it is surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated,' says David Brown, head of JLR's naming committee. ′We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines towards more sustainable powertrains.'

Join the campaign

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world.

Jaguar unveiled the I-Pace, its first all-electric vehicle, last year to deliver sustainable sports car performance, next-generation artificial intelligence technology and five-seat SUV practicality.

While both the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to get behind the campaign by asking how the word ′car' should be defined. Contact Jaguar on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #RedefineTheCar.