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Can I find 'petrol' vs. 'gas' word use by country?
September 20, 2011 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to find out if 'petrol' or 'gas' is the most recognized word for vehicle fuel by country?

Here in the US we call vehicle fuel 'gas' which is short for 'gasoline'. But I know in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere they use 'petrol'. And confusing things further, 'petrol' countries use 'gas' to describe the alternate fuel LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas).

So I'm wondering if there's a language use database out there where I could look up these regional uses. In googling around, the closest thing I've found is this page of International Fuel Names, but I'm not sure it's quite what I'm after and it isn't comprehensive.
posted by pb to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What's wrong with that list? It's pretty awesome (column 2, obviously). For instance it indicates pretty clearly what my gut feeling told me that for English speaking countries, the use of "gas" is pretty much confined to North America. It does tend to confuse Europeans.
posted by Namlit at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2011


Even worse is 'gas oil' is often the name for untaxed diesel fuel in many countries!

That said, I can't find a page about this, but, as the top of the page you gave says, the latest list can be found here.
posted by Fortran at 9:13 AM on September 20, 2011


A greater percentage of passenger cars in non-US countries run on diesel, which is more sensibly referred to as fuel than gas.
posted by odinsdream at 9:14 AM on September 20, 2011


What's wrong with that list?

The linked list is a good start. It's not complete and several countries simply have '???'. I was wondering if there's a more complete source out there. Thanks for the updated link Fortran, didn't see that.
posted by pb at 9:17 AM on September 20, 2011


Interestingly, TED just posted a new talk today on the Google Labs Ngram Viewer which allows you to search for trends in language usage over time. I don't see that it will let you search for usage by country, but you can search by British English as opposed to American English...or just standard English. Hope this helps!
posted by iceprincess324 at 10:01 AM on September 20, 2011


"for English speaking countries, the use of "gas" is pretty much confined to North America. It does tend to confuse Europeans."

heh. if you mean we are confused as to *why* you guys refer to a liquid as "gas", then yeah, that's confusing. but we all know Americans call it that. we have TV over here. ;-)

i'd love to know why the OP needs this. if you're on holiday [vacation] and you need to refuel your car [automobile]... the process is kinda idiot-proof. (apart from that one time I put unleaded into my diesel-engined car...)
posted by alan2001 at 2:56 PM on September 20, 2011


i'd love to know why the OP needs this.

I work on a site called Fuelly that helps people track their gas petrol mileage kilometerage. We have users from all over the world and we'd like to clear up the confusion these terms can cause.
posted by pb at 3:08 PM on September 20, 2011


hah! now you also need to know which countries use the metric system. (everyone except the UK and US...?)
posted by alan2001 at 4:07 PM on September 20, 2011


The UK does use the metric system, by and large.
posted by idiomatika at 2:04 AM on September 21, 2011


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