0

I am wondering which one is more commonly used in the United Kingdom: car hire or rent a car?

1
  • Well, "rent a car" is definitely the more common phrase in the U.S., so if "car hire" is a popular phrase in any English-speaking country, it's somewhere other than the U.S. Jul 15 '11 at 9:29
7

In British usage (at least up to the last few decades)

  • "rent" is used for (real) property only: houses, flats, offices, factories
  • "hire" is used for any kind of moveable property: cars, costumes, marquees, glasses (for a party), scaffolding, chainsaws ...

("hire" is not used for people: rather "employ" or "engage").

I qualified this because American usage is now recognised here, and I would guess is used by some people.

But "car hire" and "hire car" are both common expressions still.

3
  • Thanks for the answer. Could you please expain: we never use "hire" for people (therefore, "hire a guide" isn't correct)?
    – Aer
    Jan 21 '18 at 18:45
  • 1
    Hmm. Never say 'never'. ;-) Until American expressions were imported, hire was never used in the UK in the sense of "give somebody a job". I don't think we'd even have used it for casual employees (it's hard to remember for sure). But "hire a guide" sounds OK to me - I think it is conceiving a guide as a service, like a taxi. FWIW, looking up "[Hire] a person" in GloWbE gives instances of 0.13/mil in Canada, 0.09/mil in US, but 0.03/mil in UK and Irelnd
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 22 '18 at 16:46
  • Thank you! I met this expression in a Russian English school book and decided to ask :)
    – Aer
    Jan 22 '18 at 17:01
2

I would suggest that car hire is more common in the UK.

0

I don't know about the UK, but I would suggest that "hire car" is a more equivalent term for "rent-a-car" than "car hire". I tend to think of "car hire" as a service, and a "rent-a-car" as a product.

In Australian English, at least, the more common term is probably either "hire car" or "rental car".

As an aside, I wouldn't be surprised if 'rent-a-car' turns out to be trademarked by a company, although a quick google hasn't immediately shown up any likely suspects.

4
  • 1
    Etymonline says Rentacar is a trademark registered in U.S. 1924
    – JoseK
    Jul 15 '11 at 9:30
  • For the service: "car hire" or perhaps "car rental"; for the car: "hire car".
    – njd
    Jul 15 '11 at 11:43
  • JoseK: Thanks! I wonder which company owns it?
    – Loquacity
    Jul 16 '11 at 2:26
  • njd: Yep, I agree.
    – Loquacity
    Jul 16 '11 at 2:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.