The origin of the Lexus name isn’t a portmanteau.

At the end of 2023, I tweeted out an inside joke of sorts to my followers highlighting this ridiculous post from The Sun about how “Drivers are just realizing that Toyota and Lexus are actually just one brand,” asking if this is true?

It went viral and took on a life of its own, getting nearly 20 million impressions (my most popular tweet thus far, unfortunately.)

Among the many quote tweets and replies about, “Is this guy for real?” and “ain’t no way he didn’t know,” there was one “fact” thrown my way that didn’t sit right with me, that Lexus stands for Luxury Import to the United States Market.

It sounds right, but is it?

In looking up this “fact,” I came across two other influencer types and one blog post saying the same thing.

They all retell a dramatic story about how these Toyota Execs are brainstorming how to gain a foothold and conquer the US Luxury market, and they can’t figure out how to sell an expensive Toyota to begin with.

That is, until one young, seemingly pretentious exec suggests re-branding with a luxury lineup using a different name.

When coming up with a name for this new brand, this lone wolf proposes they use parts of the words of what they’re doing, selling a Luxury EXport to the United States market or LEXUS.

No f***ing way.

This post on Medium says pretty much the same thing.

“In a stroke of inspiration, they began to write down the elements that defined their venture: “L” for Luxury, “EX” for Export, and “US” for the United States. With that simple yet brilliant combination, Lexus was born…”

This story and how Lexus stands for Luxury Export to the US Market is, in fact, not true.

What Lexus really stands for.

Like all good stories that aren’t true, they are based on a bit of truth.

It’s true that, in the mid ’80s, Toyota Executives were trying to penetrate the US Luxury market and greenlit a top level luxury car to be made that we now know is the Lexus LS400.

1990 Lexus LS400

We can presume that there were some intense boardroom meetings with lots of ideas brought to the table by younger management, but this aha moment where one guy says, “I’ve got it! Luxury Export to the US market!” is a bunch of hogwash.

The actual meaning behind the name comes from the book “The Lexus Story” by Jonathan Miller where he interviewed Team One (then called Saatchi & Saatchi,) the ad agency tasked to launch the Lexus brand in the United States.

According to Team One,

“The (Lexus) brand name has no specific meaning and simply denotes a luxurious and technological image.”

That’s it, Lexus is called that because it sounds a lot like Luxury with a side of technology.

Other blog posts on Lexus dealership websites say a similar thing and debunk the whole Luxury Export to the United States.”

“The brand Lexus combines the Latin “luxus” and the French “luxe” as symbols of elegance and sumptuousness, together with the Greek “lexicon” meaning language.”

Many people believe Lexus stands for “Luxury Export To The United States“…However, this theory has been discredited by the Japanese Lexus advertising division Team One. According to Team One interviews, the brand name has no specific meaning and simply denotes a luxurious and technological image.

With what both said, we can safely say that Lexus has no specific meaning but denotes luxury and technology that probably got its name origin by combining the Latin word Luxus, the French word Luxe, and the Greek word “Lexicon”

It 100% does not stand for whatever those influencers said and, if you hear someone spout that off, go ahead and question everything else they’ve said, too.


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