Renault Clio etymology: What does its name mean?

The Renault Clio is the French brand’s popular city car, but have you ever wondered where its name comes and what it means? Find out here…


Although we haven’t got confirmation from the French car maker, we believe that Renault Clio is named after the Ancient Greek muse or goddess of history.

According to Ancient Greek mythology, there were nine main muses, or daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), who were each said to be the direct inspiration behind, and personification of, one of mankind’s more cultured functions.

While Clio was related to humanity’s study of history, there’s also Calliope (epic poetry), Erato (love poetry), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), and Urania (astronomy).

Clio also sounds a lot like Cleo, which is a shortened version of Cleopatra. When the first Clio was launched in 1990, there was a view that small city cars were for women, specifically those in the early 20s, so maybe (and we’re only speculating here) that played a part in Renault choosing the name Clio for its new city hatch.



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Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Editor-at-large — Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]


Renault Clio etymology: What does its name mean?