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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Why is gasoline called gas when it is a liquid?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (24659points) July 24th, 2021

Just wondering.

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9 Answers

flutherother's avatar

It’s actually called petrol.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I suspect it developed simply as a contraction of the word gasoline. @flutherother the same would hold with petroleum and petrol.

longgone's avatar

It’s short for “gasoline”, which doesn’t have anything to do with “gas” as opposed to “liquid”.

In 1862, a guy named John Cassell was selling “Patent Cazeline Oil” for lighting. Others then started offering their oil under the brand name cazeline, Cassel put up a fight, and people began to differentiate between the actual Cazeline and the fake “gazeline”.

gondwanalon's avatar

This reminds me of a question that a fellow student asked about the periodic chart of elements in chemistry class when I was in college.

Since all elements have 3 states (solid, liquid and gas) can “The Nobel Gasses” also be called “The Nobel Solids”? The entire class just started laughing.

flutherother's avatar

@stanleybmanly Yes, but petrol and petroleum seem a less confusing choice of words than gas and gasoline when describing a liquid.

rebbel's avatar

Also, you are called petrol heads, not gas heads (sometimes air heads).

kritiper's avatar

It’s a shortened version of the word “gasoline.” It isn’t meant as a description of it’s state.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@flutherother the choice is only confusing to someone from Mars. Tell me how likely is it that you or anyone you know would construe such expressions as “stopping for gas” or “running out of gas” to be referring to butane or nitrogen?

flutherother's avatar

@stanleybmanly There is zero chance because I live in the UK and we “fill up with petrol”. But I take your point and we are used to hearing Americans refer to “gas” from watching countless American movies.

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