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February 07, 2011


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I suspect the British usage of "Q-car" was informed by the term "Q-ship," a merchant ship carrying far more armament than one might expect; the Royal Navy deployed a number of them in WWI to bait German submarines.

Infiniti, in addition to the J and the Q, has sold a G, an I (I own one of these) and an M. BMW actually sued them over the M.

@CGHill: I go into the "Q-ship" derivation in the Visual Thesaurus column. (Subscribe! Read!)


The OED agrees with your etymology 100 percent. Q-ship was written 5 days before Q-boat on 10 August 1918 in the Army & Navy Gazette. "Q-ship" was apparently an American misnomer of the British term. Q-car appeared in 1933 with the generic meaning, "disguised police car."

Strangely, certain movie props from the James Bond series often come to be known as "Q. cars," "Q. boats," "Q. *" after the fictional designer. Such entries may have strengthened the folk etymology of "a car with more than meets the eye."

Hi Nancy- just checking in to say I love your Blog...and your new photo is beautiful. Have a wonderful day.

@LanguageAnd: My Visual Thesaurus column covers Bond (James Bond) as well:

"In the James Bond novels and movies, Q is the head of Q Branch, the fictional research-and-development arm of the British Secret Service."

And much more Q-trivia. It pays to subscribe!

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