23 Sep Car Names – Translated

Car Names - Translated by Planet Veritas

There is a theory that the Japanese prefer to buy cars with names that sound “foreign”. Therefore, many Japanese car producers launch cars with very weird names. Unfortunately, the marketing managers often do not check the meaning of these terms. This lack of wisdom often leads to funny and sometimes unpleasant results. The following are some examples:

Fiat Uno – In Finland sounds this word like “Uuno“ – which means a dork.

Ford Pinto – Means in South America bandit, dastard, or drunk.

Ford Probe – In Germany, “Probe” means sample, test, trial.. A trial car?!

Lada Nova – This is a not really appropriate name for a car in Spain – „no va“ means not going.

Mazda Laputa – Another weird name for Spanish people. This means the lady of the night.

Mercedes Vaneo – “Vaneo”, in some countries, means toilet paper.

Mitsubishi Dingo – Dingo is an Australian dog. It steals babies out of tents.

Mitsubishi Legnum – Sounds like leg numb.

Mitsubishi Pajero – This term mistake is probably the best known one. In Spain it means pansy, sissy, etc. There it is also used as an abusive word. This car name was changed to Montero in countries speaking Spanish and in the United Kingdom it is known as Shogun.

Rolls-Royce Silver Mist – In Germany, the term “Mist” means rubbish, garbage, muck, etc.

Toyota MR2 – French people have to laugh whilst pronouncing the name of this car. For French it sounds like „merde“ which is not a very nice word!

VW Jetta – In Italy Jetta sounds like „iella“, which means something like a “run of bad luck”…

Other strange names:

  • Daihatsu Naked
  • Honda Life Dunk
  • Isuzu Bighorn

What is to be said about all this? Please dear marketing managers, research the meanings of the terms you would like to apply…


  • Lyndon
    Posted at 22:42h, 11 March Reply

    We were talking about this topic in my adult Ed class in Manitoba today. A student who is from Honduras was trying to explain that Toyota means something like ‘all there’ as in when someone looks at themself in a mirror…I can’t find anything on the Internet that backs this up…any ideas?

    • Alessia
      Posted at 16:10h, 13 March Reply

      Hello Lyndon, thanks for your comment. We asked one of our Japanese experts, Tomo, and this was his reply – Toyota doesn’t really mean much or should I say, one shouldn’t read too much into it as the name Toyota is derived from the founder of what was originally an automatic loom manufacturer. The Chinese characters for the name Toyota is 豊田 but the it is pronounced Toyoda (as in the current CEO, who is part of the family), but since the company name is written using katakana and not Chinese characters (kanji), there is no point in looking at the meaning, really. It’s like expecting the persons with surnames Black or Green to look black or green!
      Sorry for the digression but if you really want to know the meaning of 豊田, it means a ‘rich (as in fertile) field’. I cannot even begin to imagine what the Honduran commentator was trying to get at, I’m afraid. – Hope this helps! Best regards!

  • Mike
    Posted at 11:27h, 28 September Reply

    Pinto actually means ‘penis’ in Portuguese, not bandit, dastard (English is my first language and even I don’t know what ‘dastard’ means), or drunk.

    • Sharon
      Posted at 23:20h, 30 September Reply

      The meaning of the word a ‘dastard’ is a dishonorable or despicable person. In fact in the article, we referred to South American Spanish, not Portuguese. Thank you for your comment nevertheless.

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