Word of the Day : July 13, 2011


noun FLIV-er


: a small cheap usually old automobile

Did You Know?

In 1908, Henry Ford changed the world with the Model T, the first affordable automobile. English speakers quickly coined an array of colorful terms for the Model T and the other relatively inexpensive cars that followed it. No one is sure why cheap cars came to be called "flivvers," but we do know that in the early 1900s that colorful term was also used as a slang verb meaning "to fail," as in "If this film flivvers, I'll be in trouble." In Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang, author Tom Dalzell lists "flivver" (which made its print debut in 1910, just two years after the Model T hit the streets) among a number of terms applied to "the humble Ford." Others included "bone crusher," "bouncing Betty," "Henry's go-cart," "puddle jumper," "Spirit of Detroit," and "Tin Lizzie."


Kevin plans to keep his new convertible off the roads during the harsh, cold months when streets are salted and sanded, so he is looking for a flivver to use as a winter beater.

"She shook my hand -- a man's strong grip -- and then drove away in her flivver." -- From a story by Stephen King in his 2010 book Full Dark, No Stars

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