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prius

[prahy-uh s]
adjective
  1. (in prescriptions) before; former.
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Origin of prius

Borrowed into English from Latin around 1890–95

Prius

[pree-uh s]
noun, plural Prius, Prii [pree-ahy] /ˈpri aɪ/. Trademark.
  1. 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.
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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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Word Origin and History for prius

n.

"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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper