1902, "enclosed automobile with open driver's seat," from French limousine, from Limousin, region in central France, originally an adjective referring to its chief city, Limoges, from Latin Lemovices, name of a people who lived near there, perhaps named in reference to their elm spears or bows. The Latin adjective form of the name, Lemovicinus, is the source of French Limousin.
Modern automobile meaning evolved from perceived similarity of the car's profile to a type of hood worn by the inhabitants of that province. Since 1930s, synonymous in American English with "luxury car;" applied from 1959 to vehicles that take people to and from large airports. Limousine liberal first attested 1969.