gasoline and petroleum

Americans say gas, we say petrol. Surely they are exactly the same thing, so how did that come about?
Also when and how did the english inflammable lead to the american-english flammable?

I don’t want to state something that may be obvious for you but we yanks are using an abbreviation of “gasoline” in common speech. My cite says gasoline came to it’s modern spelling in 1871 and the term gas was used in 1905.

In America, both “flammable” and “inflammable” are used.

As for the gas/petrol thing - why do you call it a lift and we call it an elevator? The language is diverging, which is a perfectly normal thing to happen.

Seems to me we got “gas” from “gasoline” and you folks got “petrol” from “petroleum”.

These language differences are a handy way to determine who is an American and who is British without haveing state one’s location every other sentence. So it’s not all bad.

My understanding is that a lift is hydrolic an elevator is cable system.

We’re boobs that can’t wrap our heads around Latin words. Every other in- word means “not” - inflexible means stiff, for example. But, inflammable does not mean not burnable. So, the in- was dropped for the sake of clarity and safety and became commonly used in 1920 or so.

This site explains better than I can.

Oh, and to say something is not likely to burst into flames? “Non-inflammable” is accepted, but obsolete. Today’s standard usage is “non-flammable” - how’s that for a twist?

So you say “I’ll take the elevat…no wait, it’s hydraulic…I’ll take the lift”?

And in any case, to define lifts as the non-cable ones is slightly illogical, isn’t it?

That might make sense excepting that funicular lifts are typically cable operated.

Re the OP:

gasoline - coined 1865 as gasolene, from gas (q.v.) + chemical suffix -ine/-ene. current spelling is 1871; shortened form gas first recorded Amer.Eng. 1905. Gas station first recorded 1932.

petrol - 1895, “gasoline,” from Fr. pétrol (1892); earlier used (1585) in ref. to the unrefined substance, from M.Fr. petrole “petroleum,” from O.Fr. (13c.), from M.L. petroleum (see petroleum).
petroleum - 1348, from M.L. petroleum, from L. petra “rock” + oleum “oil.”

Above definitions courtesy of the nice people at

did you infer that, or look it up in the index?

Inflammable still means inflammable – it’s just boobs that now use flammable, which is invented to try to replace inflammable. Really, not just boobs, but peope that regularly have to communicate with boobs, such as companies that sell inflammable products.

So essentially inflammable hasn’t gone away.