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TAXI LANGUAGE: What’s the difference between a black cab Journeyman and a Musher?



London's iconic black cabs are as much a part of the city's fabric as the River Thames itself. But beyond the familiar sight of these vehicles is a less-known aspect of cab culture: the distinct use of language that distinguishes the industry.


One of those terms that might not be known by the masses includes the word ‘musher’.

The little known term is a reference to the black cab's ownership. Those who rent their cabs from fleet owners are referred to as 'journeymen', while those drivers who choose to own their own taxi carry the 'musher' title.


The origin of the term 'musher' is shrouded in some mystery. It is thought to derive from the French word 'marche', meaning 'to go', which was adopted into English Canadian vernacular as 'mush'.

'Mushing' is the term used for a winter sport prevalent in Northern Europe, North America, and the Alps, where a musher leads a team of dogs. The linguistic crossover from a sport involving the driving of dog sleighs to describing taxi drivers who captain their own cabs is either apt or a very good stroke of coincidence.


For decades, thousands of drivers have embraced this specialised vocabulary, preserving a unique linguistic tradition within London. The continued use of such terms today maintains that connection to the rich histories and stories of those who navigate its streets in the past.

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