Biz Features

Company Name Origins and Random Trivia

by . May 5th, 2014

What in the World Is a Yahoo?

When I was 10-years old, I wanted to start a cartooning group with my classmates. It was sort of a faux company with a pretend-office setup in the classroom and project reports every now and then. I called it Gigabyte Productions because at that time, I thought a gig was so huge and elite. You have to remember that this was the time of the diskette. Little did I know that we’d have thousands of gigabytes fit in a pouch today!

For many people, naming companies can be the bane of their week. A bad name sticks like a horrible tattoo potentially scarring your business, and a lot of the good ones are taken. You could even get the bad event in which you’ve got the company name, but somebody else has the website URL or the social media usernames.

Because of the scarcity of great yet relatable names, some big players have names that seemingly don’t make sense at all. Have you ever wondered what in the world a Reebok is? How about a Haagen-Dazs? Let’s look at a few well-known company name etymologies and some interesting trivia to follow them up.



Nike (pronounced as it’s spelled, not “nigh-key” as the company name is pronounced) is the Greek winged goddess of success. Daughter of a giant and a river from hell, Nike became a charioteer for Zeus during the battles against the titans. One of her most popular depictions is the Nike of Samothrace, currently exhibited in the Louvre.



Reebok is another way to spell rhebok, an antelope found in southern parts of Africa. They spend most of their time looking for food which includes leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, and grass. A herd will consist of one male and multiple females. Because of this, males can become quite defensive.



Häagen-Dazs has no meaning and is a misspelling of a potential investor’s name just so it sounds Danish. However, some Danish words that do have meaning but no English translation include myötähäpeä, that feeling of embarrassment for someone else, and kaelling, a nagging woman yelling at her children.



No, Pepsi was not named after a burger, but an enzyme used to digest protein, Pepsin. This enzyme has also been extracted from hogs to help make cheese, chewing gum, and Pepsi. This is why you have videos around the internet of Pepsi and its competitor Coke digesting steaks.



The Adobe Creek originates from California and stretches 14.2 miles. The stream was once populated by Native Americans called the Ohlone. Proof of their dwelling includes a burial ground filled with skeletons, ceremonial beads, and other artifacts. Many years later, the founders of Adobe Systems lived next to it.



A yahoo, coined by Jonathan Swift for his book Gulliver’s Travels, is a primitive, dirty, and unpleasant human-like being obsessed with stones they deem pretty. They represent problematic materialism and elitism in Britain. Yahoo founders David Filo and Jerry Yang made it a joke to call themselves yahoos.



This computer manufacturing company got its name by dropping the first three letters off of Pegasus, the winged horse-god. Pegasus is also a constellation which can be best seen in October. A cool thing about this group of stars is the number of galaxies and objects within it. This includes Einstein’s Cross, a single object seen four times because the gravity of a nearby galaxy causes mirages.

And that’s my list: company trivia and general trivia rolled into one. If you’ve got more cool and crazy info about company name etymologies, comment below.

Wednesday: Tips on choosing your company’s name.

info credits: Wikipedia/Nike Inc; Theoi; FamousLogos; WildlifeSafari; UMD; SirPepsi; Wikipedia/Pepsin; WebStandards; Wikipedia/Adobe Creek; Hongkiat; Wikipedia/Yahoo; Asus; Space

photo credits: b-love via photopin cc; wallyg via photopin cc; wildlifewanderer via photopin cc; marionzetta via photopin cc; lifeontheedge via photopin cc; ex magician via photopin cc; stevechamberlain via photopin cc; rbs via photopin cc