What is the meaning of commute?

Commuters Positivity

Dr Commute   •   August 1, 2019

Meaning of Commute

The meaning of commute is somewhat linked to the commutation of full fares to seasonal tickets:

Not long after the [New Haven Railroad] line linked the teeming city to country homes in Harlem… a perceptive railroad superintendent noticed a new class of customer: the repeat passenger, whose to-and-fro trips to work and home represented a potential marketing bonanza. Seizing the opportunity, the railroad originated an imaginative fare structure of tickets based not only on a onetime passage or even a round-trip, but on unlimited rides for six months or a full year at a steep discount from the single-rate fare. The full fare was commuted, and with one bold entrepreneurial stroke the railroad commuter–in name, at the very least–was officially born.

Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America – Sam Roberts

Dear Commuters,

Let’s start from the beginning…

Where does the word commute originate from?

Commute comes from the Latin word commutare: com (altogether) + mutare (to change). Keeping this in mind my dear commuters let’s commutare our commute together.

Meaning of commute

This word was first used around the 19th century. It described in the US, a pass on a railroad, streetcar line, etc. that allowed multiple rides over a period of time – commutation ticket a US term for a season ticket.

The first appearance of the word was on a New York poster in 1814. Used to persuade people to buy tickets in advance at a reduced price to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Across the Atlantic, mainly in Britain, the ‘season ticket holder’ was a more common description of the today known ‘commuter’. In 1939 the English-American poet W.H.Auden was the first writer to expose the British readers to this new futuristic word. Season ticket holder ended up being replaced by the word commuter by the 1960s.

(…)Into the ethical life; The dense commuters come, Repeating their morning vow; “I will be true to the wife, I’ll concentrate more on my work,”(…)

– W.H.Auden – 1939 –

There is an interesting mention of this shift on The Times in 1963. They compared, with grief, the difference between the posh ‘season ticket holder’ with the vulgar commuter.

An ample solid citizen, going about his business with a complacent knowledge of his status.

– The Times, 1963 –

What does commute mean

  • Verbto make, on a regular basis, the same journey between home and their place of work.

example: Dr. commutes from St. Johns Wood to London Bridge.

  •  Noun – a regular journey between home and their place of work.

example: The Dr’s daily commute is productive.

Commute in different languages

What is commute in different languages

Afrikaans pendel
Amharic መጓዝ (megwazi)
Arabic تنق (tanqul)
Armenian փոխանակել
Arabic يسافر يوميا الى العمل
Basque absys
Belarusian камутуюцца
Bengali বিনিময় করা
Bosnian mijenjati
Bulgarian Заменям
Catalan commutar
Chichewa chilango
Chinese 通勤 (Tōngqín)
Croatian mijenjati
Czech dojíždění 
Danish pendling
Dutch forensisme
Estonian pendelränne
Finnish pendelöinti
French migration pendulaire
German pendeln
Greek ανταλάσσω (antalásso)
Hebrew יוממות
Hindi नियमित अभिगमन
Hungarian ingázik
Icelandic ferðast
Indonesian komuter
Irish taisteal
Italian pendolarismo
Japanese 通勤 (tsūkin)
Kannada ಪ್ರಯಾಣಕ್ಕೆ (prayāṇakke)
Korean 통근 (tong-geun)
Latvian apmainīt
Lao ການເດີນທາງ
Lithuanian važiuoti į darbą ir atgal
Macedonian Патува (patuva)
Malay berulang-alik
Malayalam യാത്രാമാർഗം (yātrāmārgaṁ)
Maltese jibdel
Mongolian зорчих
Nepali यात्रा
Norwegian pendle
Persian سفر پیاپی از منزل به محل کار
Polish Dojazd do pracy
Portuguese deslocar entre a casa e o trabalho
Romanian naveta
Russian Маятниковая миграция (mayatnikovaya migratsiya)
Serbian путовати на посао (putovati na posao)
Sinhala වෙනස් වන
Slovak dochádzať
Spanish migración pendular
Somali socdaal
Swahili kusafiri
Swedish pendling
Tajik пайваст кардан
Thai การไปกลับเป็นประจำ (kār pị klạb pĕn pracả)
Ukrainian їздити на маршруті (yizdyty na marshruti)
Urdu روزانہ سفر
Vietnamese Đi làm
Welsh cymudo
Yiddish קאַמיוט
Zulu uhambo lokuya emsebenzini
*Please feel free to contribute to help correct any mistakes with our translation.

Commuter — one who spends his life In riding to and from his wife; A man who shaves and takes a train And then rides back to shave again.

– E.B.White

Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness natives give it solidity and continuity but the settlers give it passion.

– E.B.White –