Today, Britons and Europeans take taxis whereas Americans take cabs, but it was not always so. During the 19th century, Britons, Europeans and Americans all took cabs because cab was an abbreviation of cabriolet, a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle, seating four people, which was standard urban transport before the advent of the automobile. Meanwhile, in 1891, the German Wilhelm Bruhn invented what he called the taxameter, a meter for measuring the distance travelled and the tax or fare to be charged for hired transport. Bruhn’s taxameter not only obviated all arguments over fares but also brought the word ‘taxi’ into being. Bruhn’s device was soon in general use on the Continent on both horse-drawn and the new motorised vehicles. In Paris, the French re-named the device taximètre and in London this was anglicised to taximeter. Motorised cabs did not replace the horse-drawn cabs overnight and during the early years of the 20th century both forms of transport were available. By 1907, however, horse-drawn cabs had practically disappeared and the motorised cabs had started calling themselves ‘taxicabs’ which was short for ‘taximeter cabs’. Thereafter, for reasons that remain obscure, Britain and Europe shortened taxicab to taxi, while Americans seemed happier with retaining the second syllable cab. When aircraft ‘taxi’ on the runway, this usage from the early 20th century onwards, is a leftover from the days when Americans referred to early aircraft as ‘taxis’.