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Origin of sedan

First recorded in 1625–35; of obscure origin


[si-dan; French suh-dahn]
  1. a city in NE France, on the Meuse River: defeat and capture of Napoleon III 1870. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for sedan


  1. US, Canadian and NZ a closed two-door or four-door car with four to six seatsAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): saloon
  2. short for sedan chair

Word Origin for sedan

C17: of uncertain origin; compare Latin sēdēs seat


  1. a town in NE France, on the River Meuse: passed to France in 1642; a Protestant stronghold (16th–17th centuries); scene of a French defeat (1870) during the Franco-Prussian War and of a battle (1940) in World War II, which began the German invasion of France. Pop: 20 548 (1999)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sedan

1630s, "covered chair on poles," possibly from a southern Italian dialect derivative of Italian sede "chair" (cf. Italian seggietta, 1590s; the thing itself was said to have been introduced from Naples), from Latin sedes, related to sedere "sit" (see sedentary). Since Johnson's conjecture, often derived from the town of Sedan in France, where it was said to have been made or first used, but historical evidence for this is lacking.

Introduced in England by Sir Sanders Duncombe in 1634 and first called a covered chair. "In Paris the sedan-chair man was usually an Auvergnat, in London an Irishman" ["Encyclopaedia Britannica," 1929]. Meaning "closed automobile seating four or more" first recorded 1912, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper