The history of the Mazda name is not exactly straightforward. You might have heard an interpretation here or there that oversimplifies where the automaker got its moniker, but if you read the rest of this entry you can get a satisfying overview of where the word comes from, and why it fits the company so well.
What Does the Word “Mazda” Mean?
If you were to translate the word “Mazda” without context, it means “Light” or “Wisdom.” In that sense, it makes sense that this word would be used as the automaker’s name. A lot of effort is usually put into designing the shape and profile of Mazda vehicles without looking gaudy, excessive, or over-produced. The vehicles always achieve a wise balance between flair and function. It’s wise because it attracts drivers of all ages and doesn’t sacrifice performance for looks.
Where Does the Word Mazda Come From?
A more complete way to answer the question this blog poses is to go into the history of the company. Originally called Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd., the automaker built motorized tricycles. One of the early presidents and founders of the company was named Jujiro Matsuda. Often, when the “su” sound appears in the middle of a Japanese word, it gets shortened to a short “s” or “z”-like sound. So when the company produced a motorized tricycle, they called it the “Mazda-go” to make it sound catchier.
That’s not all though. Mazda does exist as a Japanese word. The Japanese name for a Zoroastrian deity is Ahura Mazda, meaning god or lord of wisdom, harmony, or knowledge. This is consistent with a lot of the naming schemes used by Mazda, as they tend to incorporate religious names or figures.
Why is the Company Named Mazda?
So why did the company change its name from Toyo Kogyo to Mazda? The success of models that used the Mazda name prompted the company to reintroduce itself to the world as Mazda Motor Manufacturing to spread “Mazda” (light, wisdom) to the automotive industry. The initials lead to the logo eventually becoming a set of three stacked letter Ms, and eventually the silver circle with the M inside that we know today.