Why Do the British Call Trucks “Lorries”?

When it comes to the world of trucks and transportation, language can take many interesting twists and turns. Here in the UK, the term “lorry” is often used interchangeably with “truck”, yet you’ll very rarely hear an American use the word “lorry”, so let’s get into it. Why do the British call trucks “lorries”? Together, let’s explore the historical, linguistic, and cultural factors that contribute to this naming phenomenon.

Defining the Terms: Truck vs. Lorry

Before delving into the reasons behind the British usage of “lorry,” let’s clarify the terms in question. In North America and some other parts of the world, the word “truck” is commonly used to refer to large motor vehicles designed to transport goods. In the UK, however, the term “lorry” is the more prevalent choice. Both terms essentially describe the same type of vehicle, differing primarily in the regional vocabulary.

The etymology of the term “lorry” can be traced back to the early 20th century. It is believed to have originated from the word “lurry,” which referred to a low, flat, horse-drawn wagon used for transporting heavy loads. As motorised vehicles began to replace horse-drawn carts, the term “lorry” gradually came into use to describe these mechanised versions of the wagons.

The term “truck,” on the other hand, comes from the Latin word “trochus,” meaning “wheel.” It was initially used to describe wheeled carts used for transporting goods. Over time, this term gained traction in North America and other English-speaking regions to refer to motor vehicles designed for the same purpose.

Cultural and Regional Factors

Language is heavily influenced by culture and geography, just ask our team based in the heart of Stockport! The naming of vehicles is no exception. The preference for “lorry” over “truck” in the UK may stem from a desire to preserve tradition and reflect the historical evolution of transportation. Additionally, the terms used in various industries tend to stick, and this naming preference has become deeply ingrained in the British transportation lexicon.

While “lorry” is the more common term in the UK, it’s important to note that British people are not exclusive in their use of vocabulary. The term “truck” is also understood and used by many, thanks in part to the global nature of modern communication and the influence of American media.

Sometimes neither word will do!

How many British people do you know who class themselves as “truck driver”? In most cases, it will be “lorry driver” or “HGV driver” (HGV referring to “Heavy Goods Vehicle”), but then ‘truckers’ is a common term amongst Americans. Ultimately, language is constantly evolving, and different regions will often have their own linguistic quirks. Whether you refer to them as trucks or lorries, these vehicles remain the backbone of transportation, driving commerce and connectivity across the United Kingdom and beyond.

Sell your truck or trailer today!

Find your vehicle below to get started…

Sell a Rigid Truck

Get a quote >

Sell a Tractor Unit

Get a quote >

Sell a Semi-Trailer

Get a quote >