Where does the word ‘taxi’ come from and why do we still call them that today?!


There are several versions of the origin of the term taxi. There is a hypothesis of a historical nature, related to the mail delivery system, which sees as the protagonist the noble German family Thurn und Taxis (from which the word “taxi” is derived).

The family, descended from the princes of the Holy Roman Empire, since the fifteenth century, had the task of spreading and managing the postal system in Europe and maintained its monopoly until 1866.

But what does the post have to do with private passenger transport? Before the birth of motor vehicles, those who urgently needed to travel used a horse-drawn carriage. At the end of the 18th century, the Thurn und Taxis family, who managed thousands of carriages and horses with which they delivered the mail, diversified their business, also using them for passenger transport.

Few people know that the noble family, pioneers in the mail delivery sector, was of Italian origin. In fact, in 1504 the two brothers from Bergamo Zanetto and Francesco Tasso took over the monopoly of the postal service throughout the empire from the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I. At the end of the 18th century, the Tasso family (Germanized in Thurn und Taxis) managed 20,000 “postmasters”, thousands of horses and castles and was one of the richest in Europe.

A second, more philological version of the term, on the other hand, would trace the word “taxi” from taxa (cost), contained in the word taximeter, an 1891 invention by the German Wilhelm Bruhn (1869-1951) which spread around the world and is still in use today.

A third hypothesis attributes the origin of “taxi” to the Greek adjective tachus meaning “quick”, referring to the characteristic of being a fast way to get around.