car boot origins

in the uk the trunk of a car is designated the boot
anyone know the origin of the word
and to boot
why do usa call it a trunk

In older US cars (vintage 1920’s) I’ve seen actual “trunks” attached to the back of the car for storage. Perhaps that’s where they got the name from.

As far as where the word boot came from…

thanks man
thats about as far as i have got apart from a comment about the english boot being a boot locker and who would drive in their socks!!
there seems to be a few differences in the uk and usa nomenclature for cars and the like

From the OED(talking about early coaches)

And it was used so in the 1600’s.

And also from the OED, concerning trunk:

Note the last sentence. They were just being designed into some cars at that date. So dolphinboy’s suggestion is correct.


The first time I heard the term “boot” being used for the trunk was in north Georgia. I’m talking about people like those in “Deliverance”. To me this shows that the term originated before autos were invented and therefore samclem’s cite seems reasonable.

Of course, samclem’s citation was accurate, particularly the “later” part, and most of us have seen it used in the movies. Or are you all too young to remember watching westerns? While some luggage was thrown up on top of the stage coach, most of it was placed in the boot at the back, with a canvass or leather covering hanging down from the roof to provide a triangular place for storage.

I was raised in Chillicothe, a small city in southern Ohio. Boot was the word we used for trunk. It wasn’t until we moved elsewhere, while in my teens, that I heard the luggage compartment of a car referred to as a trunk.

Probably the same people who would put feet in a footlocker.

The boot is where the zombies sleep.

I thought this would be about those immobilization devices they put on your car when you’ve failed to pay your parking tickets.

Boot is the standard English term for the part of a car that USAians call a trunk. I’ve heard it used in most English speaking countries outside North America and parts of the Caribbean.

It shows the diversity of modern English. Without mass media and comunications, I suspect that English (as spoken by the English and most of their former empire) and Amerenglish would have diverged into separate languages, with difficulty in mutual comprehension.

Calling it a trunk seems clear, as the original receptacle was essentially a trunk fixed on the back of a car.

The word boot (in this sense) seems to date back to at least the 1600’s, when it described the back seat of a carriage where the servants perched. Any explanation I’ve seen seems of doubtful value, and more likely to be folk etymology.