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[pree-uh s] /ˈpri əs/
noun, plural Prius, Prii
[pree-ahy] /ˈpri aɪ/ (Show IPA).
a brand of hybrid car, one of the first commercially successful, that runs at lower speeds on an electric motor powered by a battery pack, and at higher speeds on a gasoline engine, which can also recharge the battery.
Origin of Prius
1997; from the Latin prius meaning “coming before”; also related to such English words as “prior” and “primary”
Related Quotations
“In hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, computer software decides when to run the [gasoline] engine, when to run the electric motor and when to recharge the battery. … A full hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, can provide a fuel economy improvement of 60 percent or more.“
—Joseph J. Romm and Andrew A. Fran, “Hybrid Vehicles Gain Traction“ Scientific American (April 2006) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Word Origin and History for prii



"that which takes precedence," noun use of Latin neuter of prior "former, earlier" (see prior (adj.)). The hybrid car (with a capital P- ) debuted in 1997 in Japan, 2001 in U.S. and Europe. Name supposedly chosen because the car is a predecessor of new types. Proper plural is said to be Priora, but that is for the adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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