What Does Miata Mean? 

he name “Miata,” associated with the Mazda MX-5, carries a rich and intriguing meaning. Contrary to popular belief and urban legends, “Miata” is not an acronym such as “Make It A Topless Afternoon,” but rather has its roots in language and the driving experience it aims to offer.

  1. Old German Origin: The most widely accepted explanation is that “Miata” originates from the Old High German word ‘miete,’ which means “reward.” This interpretation aligns well with Mazda’s philosophy for the MX-5, intending to provide a rewarding driving experience. The idea is that the pleasure and satisfaction derived from driving the MX-5 are akin to receiving a reward​​​​​​.
  2. Italian and Japanese Connotations: Interestingly, “Miata” also loosely translates to “reward” in Italian, reinforcing the theme of the car offering a rewarding experience. Additionally, in Japanese, the phonetic translation of Miata suggests “prize” or “reward,” echoing the joy and excitement associated with driving the roadster. This translation encapsulates the MX-5’s driving philosophy, known as “Jinba Ittai,” which emphasizes the unity and harmony between the car and its driver​​​​

The Mazda MX-5/Miata stands as the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history, a testament to its enduring appeal.

Its name, therefore, is not just a label but a reflection of the experience Mazda intended to offer with this iconic vehicle.

The naming strategy deviates from traditional alphanumeric or acronym-based names often used by Japanese manufacturers (although the model was sold in many markets with such a name – MX-5), opting instead for a word that captures the essence of the driving experience it provides.

This creative approach in naming is consistent with the car’s innovative design and driving dynamics, which have been praised by motoring pundits and everyday drivers alike for nearly 30 years​​.

In summary, “Miata” symbolizes the rewarding and exhilarating experience that Mazda aimed to deliver with the MX-5.

This understanding of the name adds depth to the vehicle’s identity, highlighting Mazda’s commitment to not just building a car, but crafting an experience that resonates with drivers on a deeper level.

Make sure you check out our MX-5/Miata buying guide for more information!


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

5 thoughts on “What Does Miata Mean? ”

  1. Miete does NOT mean reward! As a matter of fact “Miete” is what renters pay for the use of an apartment. It means rent or lease – money that is payable to the owner.

  2. The Miata was being planned at the same time Mazda was preparing to launch a Luxury brand to compete with Lexus, Acura and Infiniti. The Mazda luxury brand name was AMATI, and you can re-arrange those letters to create the name Miata. Coincidence… I think not.

    • Interesting comment … and funny timing as we are actually working on a piece about the history of Mazda’s failed Amati brand.


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