Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Thu Mar 8 17:26:18 UTC 2001

But the passenger in a sedan chair sits.

Webster's New World Dict, 3rd College Ed, 1988, offers this suggestion at
_sedan_: "[? coined (1634) by Sir S. Duncombe, Eng holder of the patent,
prob. <It _sedente_, to sit <L: see sit]"  The first (earliest) sense given
is "sedan chair".  The second sense, marked with the star indicating an
Americanism, is "an enclosed automobile . . ."  The etym given here doesn't
of course explain why American cars were called sedans, or which particular
model first bore this name.

Victoria Neufeldt
1533 Early Drive
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7H 3K1

On Thursday, March 08, 2001 10:12 AM, Duane Campbell wrote:
> The following query from a friend in GB. I was not aware that "sedan" was
> exclusively US usage. My dictionaries give "origin unknown," but that
> seems to refer to the word itself. OED gives no usage as an enclosed
> automobile. They list a US usage for a wheelbarrow to haul fish, but I
> don't think that helps. Did some early auto or model bear the proprietor
> name of Sedan? (Barry?)
> D
> *************************
> Which reminds me, why do Americans refer to a closed 4 seater car as
> a 'sedan'?   As far as I am aware no one else in the English speaking
> world use this descriptor.  One assumes that it comes from the same
> root as a 'Sedan Chair' but that seems a bit sparse to me as the
> original derivation was from the Latin to sit.   Were there once US
> cars in which you stood?

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