community in Brooklyn, N.Y., so called for the rabbits once found there (see coney) and was known to the Dutch as Konijn Eiland, from which the English name probably derives. It emerged as a resort and amusement park center after the U.S. Civil War.
British sports car manufacturer, 1923; it stands for Morris Garages, which was founded by William R. Morris (1877-1963).
U.S. car rental company, according to company history founded 1946 at Willow Run Airport in Detroit by U.S. businessman Warren Avis and named for him.
notoriously unsuccessful make of car, introduced 1956 and named for Henry and Clara Ford's only child; figurative sense of "something useless and unwanted" is almost as old. Edsel is a family name, attested since 14c. (William de Egeshawe), from High Edser in Ewhurst, Surrey.
pet form of fem. proper name Elizabeth, used colloquially for "a motor car" (especially an early-model Ford) from 1913; also tin lizzie (1915). From 1905 as "effeminate man;" by 1949 as "a lesbian," the past probably from the resemblance of sound.
proper name of a cross-slot screw and corresponding screwdriver, 1935, named for its inventor, U.S. businessman Henry F. Phillips (1890-1958) of Portland, Oregon. It was designed for car makers, hence the handyman's complaint that they are difficult to un-screw. Phillips lost the patent in 1949.
U.S. automobile corporation, organized 1925 as Chrysler Corporation by Walter P. Chrysler (1875-1940) out of the old Maxwell Motor Co. (Maxwell produced a car named Chrysler in 1924). The surname is a spelling variant of German Kreisler, perhaps related to kreisel "spinning top," but the sense connection is unclear.
motorcar brand first marketed 1926 after merger of two earlier companies. The first part of the name, Mercedes, marketed as a car name from 1901, was chosen by Austrian manufacturer Emil Jellinek for his daughter, Mercedes (1889-1929). The Benz is from the other company, from name of Karl Benz, creator of the Benz Patent Motorwagen (1886). The surname is built from a familiar form of Berthold,
Benedict, or Bernhard.
fashionable London neighborhood, also famous for vice by early 19c., so called at least since 1630s; this is from "So Ho!" a hunting cry (attested from c. 1300) used in calling from a distant place to alert hounds and other hunters. The West End district sometimes is said to have been so called because it was built up on an area that had been a royal park and was thus associated with hunting.
The district of the same name in New York City is so called by 1969, a contraction of South of Houston Street but probably deliberately echoing the London name.