A Beemer, Queen Elizabeth and The Steaming Elephant – a comprehensive overview of vehicle names in onomastics
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brand name
car name
ship name
aircraft name
railway name


Although names of vehicles surround us in our everyday life, vehicle names are seldom subject to research in onomastic literature: in most cases, the research only describes the naming patterns of one vehicle category. This paper aims to review the notion ‘vehicle names’ in light of the onomastic literature to provide a comprehensive overview of the name category. The paper takes the literature review as its research method: vehicle name-related research in English and German onomastic literature is synthesized to show in which onomastic research contexts vehicle names appear. Based on the results of previous onomastic research, the paper argues that the notion of vehicle names should be defined broadly. It also shows that vehicle names can be considered from different viewpoints: it is possible to distinguish official and unofficial name-giving, but the setting in which the vehicle name is used is also important. The final part of the paper shows how these viewpoints interact with one another: The paper also provides a taxonomy of vehicle names and indicates future research directions for vehicle names.

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