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  • Definition of taxi:

    To ride or travel in a taxicab

  • Definition of cab:

    A taxicab.

Since the definitions don't show many differences, is it okay to assume that there is no difference between taxi and cab?

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    Depends on which side of the pond you are and how old you are: Cab Origin: 1905–10, Americanism; short for taxicab – mplungjan Oct 4 '13 at 13:01
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    Bus, autobus; auto, automobile. – Amory Oct 4 '13 at 13:52
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    @Tristan: Spain. France. Early 20th century England. – Peter Shor Oct 4 '13 at 14:42
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    Am I the only one who's wondering why the OP is asking for the difference between a verb and a noun? – RegDwigнt Oct 4 '13 at 16:32
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    @RegDwigh: No. And Tristan: the prefix taxi- used to mean something else. A taxi-cab is/was a cab(riolet) with a taxi(meter), a "tariff meter", related to the word tax. Later taxi-cab was shortened to either taxi or cab. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Oct 4 '13 at 16:36
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There isn't any difference between these two, both act as a vehicle of transport for the passenger to get from one place to another.

Although, cab might be more of an olden-usage, as it can also mean any of various horse-drawn vehicles, as a hansom or brougham, especially one for public hire.

  • Sure, and taxi can be a verb describing how an airplane gets from the terminal to the runway. – J.R. Oct 4 '13 at 13:11
  • And a cab can be the driver's compartment on a lorry etc. – Chris H Oct 4 '13 at 13:17
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    Your second paragraph directly contradicts your first paragraph. In fact I submit that "there isn't any difference" is not true of any two words in any language. More to the point, perhaps, you missed that the OP is asking about the verb taxi, not the noun. – RegDwigнt Oct 4 '13 at 16:29
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read this somewhere.. Found it interesting so thought of sharing here...

Taxi VS Cab

The difference is lost in the mists of time. The earliest form of horse-drawn vehicle available for hire was called a 'cab' (short for cabriolet). The name stuck when cab firms upgraded to motorized vehicles, fitted with a 'taximeter' (which measured how far you'd gone). These were called 'taxi-cabs'. Nowadays either word is used.

In UK the word 'taxi' is used for the diesel-engine ones with a high roof to the passenger compartment (also known as 'black cabs/black taxis'), and the term 'minicab' is used for standard passenger saloon cars that just happen to be available for hire.

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    AT - UID, it is not a case of "some users in the UK". That is, the terminology in the UK. Your answer would be improved if you defined what you mean by "most speakers". Most speakers do make that distinction, in the UK. Black cabs are also known as black taxis. – Tristan r Jan 20 '14 at 22:26
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    The word taxi applies to both kinds in general. People distinguish between them by saying either black cabs / black taxis or minicabs. – Tristan r Jan 21 '14 at 17:24
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There may be a regulatory distinction. In at least some parts of the UK, a taxi can be hailed at the side of the street, while a minicab or more properly "private hire vehicle" must be booked (e.g. by phone). Cab can then be used for either of these. Taxis are subject to more stringent licensing. It is however variable, London has different rules, and they have evolved, terminology may not have kept up with the rules.

  • Interesting; in the U.S., a privately hired vehicle is a car never a cab, as in How much would a car to Dulles cost? or Our company has hired a car service for the duration of the transit strike. As in the UK they are subject to different regulation, hence the loud debate over Uber. The distinction between a hired car and any ordinary car is contextual, though I do hear people say black car or Town Car, as the classic New York car service uses black Lincoln Town Cars. – choster Oct 4 '13 at 13:40
  • I'm in the UK and am British - 'taxi' usually means a black taxi cab, whereas cab is a shortened form of 'minicab', meaning a car with driver you've hired which isn't a black taxi cab. so generally, its minicab or taxi, and they definitely mean different things. – bamboo Oct 4 '13 at 15:28
  • @bamboo which part of the UK? What about "black cabs" (i.e. London taxis, not necessarily black)? – Chris H Oct 4 '13 at 15:42
  • I'm in West London, but other parts of the country have the classic black taxis as well - places like Canterbury in Kent for instance. Where they are also called taxis, but if you use an ordinary car, that's a minicab... and we always say minicab, rarely just cab. – bamboo Oct 4 '13 at 17:30
  • @bamboo I beg to differ. Especially in London, I would quite readily refer to a black 'taxi' as a cab, especially since they are driven by cabbies. Elsewhere, I would also quite readily refer to to a vehicle that can be hired on the spot at a station or roadside as a taxi. Indeed the main firm in my local town which describes itself as a 'taxi firm' uses conventional cars for the purpose. It's not clear to me whether, by 'minicab' you are referring to a private hire car (booked in advance) or a taxi (hired at the roadside). – TrevorD Oct 4 '13 at 22:46
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Today, in practice, the two terms have blurred, because nearly all "cabs" are "taxis," which is short for "taxicabs." The two separate terms exist because originally, there were horse-drawn "cabs" for hire. The problem was that cabmen were notoriously dishonest, and cheated customers by claiming longer or shorter distances traveled, or extorting money before leaving them in the right place. Then, someone invented "taximeters" - devices that could calculate the correct fare, based on time and distance; the fare would accumulate based on a clock when stopped - by distance traveled when moving. Cabs with taximeters were called "taximeter cabs." Eventually, automobiles were invented. Some automobiles were used as "cabs" - for hire, but without a taximeter. In 1907, when taximeters on automobiles finally took hold in London and New York, they called them "taxicabs" - short for "taximeter cabs;" and also "taxi" - short for taxicab. The distinction persists, to some extent, because hiring a "towncar" or something, paid by the hour or the trip, does not constitute a "taxi" - technically - because it does not have a device hooked up to the engine and a clock, that constantly calculates accumulated fare by time and distance. Uber runs on a new business model, and it is not clear yet what those types of cars will be called in the future.

For some good background on the history of taxis - see: Taximeter, Taximeter Uber Alles - a History of Taxicabs.

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Since the definitions don't show many differences, is it okay to assume that there is no difference between taxi and cab?

Yes, they words that are used to mean the same thing.

Regarding the word "taxicab", this is not used by all English speakers. It seems to be more common in certain parts of the world and not in others. It is not, normally used in the UK.

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In Trinidad & Tobago the word cab is almost never used by the local population. Taxi generally refers to any vehicle specially licensed and insured to transport a fixed number of paying passengers at any given time. These vehicles license plate usually begins with the letter H followed representing it is a vehicle licensed for hire and at present two more letters and four digits which will indicate the age or more accurately the time the vehicle was registered by the licensing authority (HDC 2549 example of a typical taxi number) in T&T usually range from a five seater to one that can accommodate twenty five passengers at one time. one can hire a taxi to serve his personal needs or can stand at the side of the road and stop a taxi going in his direction. At the Airports there are specially registered taxis for hire and they do not work the road like the normal taxis but when hired they are not allowed to take any more passengers along their route between the airport and their final destination

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    Welcome to ELU.SE. This site is about how the English language works. The question was "Do the words taxi and cab mean the same thing?" Explaining how taxis work in T&T is more relevant to a site concerned with life in the West Indies. Only the first sentence is relevant here, and that only gives usage information: it doesn't answer the question asked. Please see our Help on answering questions. – Andrew Leach Jul 19 '14 at 7:37

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