Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Moderator: JackFrost

User avatar
korn
Posts: 311
Joined: 2008-04-23, 11:29
Real Name: emaN laeR
Gender: male
Location: Bavaria
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)

Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby korn » 2012-10-24, 15:35

Hi there,

there has been a discussion in the Vietnamese section about whether "auto" means "car" in English or not:
JackFrost wrote:má* ;)
auto (American English) - ô tô

It's "car" in American English since "auto" is definitely from French.


viewtopic.php?f=75&t=38686

My problem is a native English speaker (Canadian English I think) says "auto" doesn't mean "car" in American English. But my well known and dictionary says otherwise:

http://dict.leo.org/ende?lp=ende&lang=d ... earch=auto

Who is right here? :hmm:
Please correct all my mistakes, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, also, please help me to improve my phrases. Thank you in advance!
---
S'il vous plaît, corrigez toutes mes fautes, même si elles vous paraissent insignifiantes. Et aidez-moi, s'il vous plaît, à améliorer ma façon de m'exprimer. Merci d'avance!
---
Nếu tôi viết chỗ nào chưa đúng, dù là lỗi nhỏ hay nghiêm trọng, thì các bạn hãy sửa lại giúp tôi hoặc góp ý để tôi có thể học hỏi và rút kinh nghiệm. Cám ơn các bạn nhé!

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22114
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-10-24, 15:54

Both car and auto can mean automobile, but the former is vastly preferred to the latter in everyday language. If someone told me, "I bought a new auto", I would surmise that English was not their mother tongue. The Wiktionary entry says auto is "chiefly attributive" in this meaning and that jibes with my experience: auto only sounds natural to me in compounds, e.g. auto accident, auto manufacturer, auto dealership, auto insurance. And even in these examples, I would likely prefer car in speech.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16208
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby JackFrost » 2012-10-24, 17:51

You know, you shouldn't rely on one dictionary only. It would be more wise to have a few in mind: some bilingual ones and at least one unilingual one (it's advised that it be authoritative as well, unlike your link to a bilingual dictionary).

(Canadian English I think)

American English is my very first language, although Canadian English is just as native to me.

Anyways, I believe that throughout in the English-speaking world, it's called "car". "Auto" is pretty much only used in compound nouns as linguoboy just demonstrated.
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
korn
Posts: 311
Joined: 2008-04-23, 11:29
Real Name: emaN laeR
Gender: male
Location: Bavaria
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby korn » 2012-10-24, 18:50

JackFrost wrote:You know, you shouldn't rely on one dictionary only. It would be more wise to have a few in mind: some bilingual ones and at least one unilingual one (it's advised that it be authoritative as well, unlike your link to a bilingual dictionary).

Name one dictionary that doesn't say "auto" doesn't mean "car" or "automobile". :|
Please correct all my mistakes, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, also, please help me to improve my phrases. Thank you in advance!
---
S'il vous plaît, corrigez toutes mes fautes, même si elles vous paraissent insignifiantes. Et aidez-moi, s'il vous plaît, à améliorer ma façon de m'exprimer. Merci d'avance!
---
Nếu tôi viết chỗ nào chưa đúng, dù là lỗi nhỏ hay nghiêm trọng, thì các bạn hãy sửa lại giúp tôi hoặc góp ý để tôi có thể học hỏi và rút kinh nghiệm. Cám ơn các bạn nhé!

User avatar
Dormouse559
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 6421
Joined: 2010-05-30, 0:06
Real Name: Matthew
Gender: male
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby Dormouse559 » 2012-10-24, 19:00

Merriam-Webster for one, a respected dictionary publisher in the U.S. If you follow the link for English-language learners, it also says that auto is "usually used before another noun."
N'hésite pas à corriger mes erreurs.

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16208
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby JackFrost » 2012-10-24, 19:04

Name one dictionary that doesn't say "auto" doesn't mean "car" or "automobile". :|

Huh? I've never claimed that.

I'm saying your dictionary entry for auto is inaccurate.
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22114
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-10-24, 19:08

korn wrote:
JackFrost wrote:You know, you shouldn't rely on one dictionary only. It would be more wise to have a few in mind: some bilingual ones and at least one unilingual one (it's advised that it be authoritative as well, unlike your link to a bilingual dictionary).

Name one dictionary that doesn't say "auto" doesn't mean "car" or "automobile". :|

You need to understand what dictionaries do and don't cover. Telling you what a word means is not the same as telling you how it's used. When I type "bicycle" into LEO, it gives me Fahrrad, Velo, Drahtesel, and Zweirad. Does this mean I can use any one of these words in place of "bicycle"?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

User avatar
korn
Posts: 311
Joined: 2008-04-23, 11:29
Real Name: emaN laeR
Gender: male
Location: Bavaria
Country: DE Germany (Deutschland)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby korn » 2012-10-24, 19:32

linguoboy wrote:
korn wrote:
JackFrost wrote:You know, you shouldn't rely on one dictionary only. It would be more wise to have a few in mind: some bilingual ones and at least one unilingual one (it's advised that it be authoritative as well, unlike your link to a bilingual dictionary).

Name one dictionary that doesn't say "auto" doesn't mean "car" or "automobile". :|

You need to understand what dictionaries do and don't cover. Telling you what a word means is not the same as telling you how it's used.

Indeed, in the quoted issue, I was only interested in what it means I never said anything about it's usage.
JackFrost wrote:
Name one dictionary that doesn't say "auto" doesn't mean "car" or "automobile". :|

Huh? I've never claimed that.

I'm saying your dictionary entry for auto is inaccurate.

How far is it inaccurate? Does "auto" mean "car"/ "automobile" or not? :/ .... I'm not asking or saying anything about it's usage or how often it is used or how common it is used....
Please correct all my mistakes, no matter how trivial they may seem to you, also, please help me to improve my phrases. Thank you in advance!
---
S'il vous plaît, corrigez toutes mes fautes, même si elles vous paraissent insignifiantes. Et aidez-moi, s'il vous plaît, à améliorer ma façon de m'exprimer. Merci d'avance!
---
Nếu tôi viết chỗ nào chưa đúng, dù là lỗi nhỏ hay nghiêm trọng, thì các bạn hãy sửa lại giúp tôi hoặc góp ý để tôi có thể học hỏi và rút kinh nghiệm. Cám ơn các bạn nhé!

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22114
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-10-24, 20:58

korn wrote:Indeed, in the quoted issue, I was only interested in what it means I never said anything about it's usage.

But usage is directly relevant to that case. If auto isn't generally used on its own to mean "car", then why would it be borrowed into colloquial Vietnamese with this meaning?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6612
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby Tenebrarum » 2012-10-25, 0:04

The word ô tô in northern Vietnam came from French, korn. It has nothing to do with English. You can tell just by the way it's spelled.
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16208
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby JackFrost » 2012-10-25, 1:33

korn wrote:How far is it inaccurate? Does "auto" mean "car"/ "automobile" or not? :/ .... I'm not asking or saying anything about it's usage or how often it is used or how common it is used....

It's inaccurate because it says "auto (Amer.) - Das Auto". It doesn't mean I am denying that "auto" as a word itself does not exist in English. It does, but never by itself. It's used with other nouns such as "auto saleman", "auto accident", auto manufacturer", etc. (just as linguoboy told you). You can also say "car saleman", "car accident", "car manufacturer", etc. But saying "the auto", "my auto", "your auto", or "her auto" isn't how we say it, unlike German ("das Auto", "mein Auto", "dein Auto"...) or Canadian French ("l'auto", "mon auto", "ton auto", etc...).

That's why I'm advising you to have a few, not just one, dictionaries in mind so you can research a bit how the words are used in a language. Take a look at Beolingus (English-German online dictionary: http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/) and Dictionary.com (online English language dictionary: http://www.dictionary.com). Again, it doesn't mean that your preferred online dictionary isn't useful. I'm just saying it would be useful to know some more just in case. :)
Neferuj paħujkij!

nancyfromafrica
Posts: 16
Joined: 2012-09-12, 12:21
Real Name: Nancy Andrews
Gender: female
Location: Johannesburg
Country: ZA South Africa (Suid-Afrika / uMzantsi Afrika / South Africa)
Contact:

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby nancyfromafrica » 2012-11-05, 6:09

auto literally means something which is automatic like a airplane set to auto pilot.
Auto also means the league of cars and bikes or vehicles. So you have auto magazine. :hmm:
I love reading books Charles Dickens is my favourite author

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 22114
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-11-05, 13:32

nancyfromafrica wrote:Auto also means the league of cars and bikes or vehicles. So you have auto magazine.

That's not true of American English or of any other dialect of English I'm familiar with. Is it really the case that in your dialect "auto" can refer to bicycles?
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

User avatar
alisha
Posts: 4
Joined: 2018-04-05, 7:58
Real Name: alisha
Gender: female
Contact:

Re: Does "auto" mean "car" in US English?

Postby alisha » 2018-04-05, 8:14

From the reference of the Cambridge dictionary, auto is a car only.


Return to “English”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests