Origin of Company Names
as seen on List of company name
the free encyclopedia
160over90 — named to reflect the marketing agency's goal of eliciting a
human reaction with its campaigns: "160 over 90" is a state of heightened
20th Century Fox — film studio formed in 1935 following the merger of
William Fox's Fox Film Corporation and Twentieth Century Pictures.
37Signals — named after founders watched a
NOVA episode making reference to 37 unexplained signals found by the
SETI Project that are possible signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life.
3Com — network technology producer, "Computer Communication
3M — from
Manufacturing Company, which started off mining the material
corundum used to make
7-Eleven — this chain of convenience stores started in 1927 as Tote'm (so
called because customers "toted" away their purchases). In 1946, Tote'm became
7-Eleven to reflect the stores' new, extended hours — 7am until 11pm, seven
days a week. (The store hours are now different around the world. For example,
the 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong, Canada and Norway operate 24 hours a day.)
A&M Records — named after founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss
Abloy — Acronym for "Aktiebolag Lås/Lukko Osakeyhtiö", meaning roughly
"Lock Corporation" in both
ABN AMRO — In the 1960s, the Nederlandse Handelmaatschappij (Dutch
1824) and the Twentsche Bank merged to form the Algemene Bank
Nederland (ABN; General Bank of the Netherlands). In
1966, the Amsterdamsche Bank and the Rotterdamsche Bank
merged to form the Amro Bank. In 1991, ABN and Amro Bank
merged to form ABN AMRO.
Accenture — Accent on the Future. Greater-than 'accent' over
the logo's t points forward towards the future. The name Accenture was
proposed by a company employee in Norway as part of an internal name finding
process (BrandStorming). Prior to
2001 the company was called
Adecco — Formed from the merger of Swiss staffing company Adia with
French staffing company Ecco.
Adidas — from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler.
Adobe — from the name of the river
Adobe Creek that ran behind the houses of founders
John Warnock and
Ahold — stands for Albert Heijn Holding. The holding was
constructed around Albert Heijn supermarkets (founded in 1887). In 1987, Ahold
became Royal Ahold. Albert, at the time, didn't catch on to the fact that the
name sounded completely like "a-hole" and that this may be a problem.
Airam — Maria, the name of the founder's wife, backwards.
Akai — Technically it means "red" in Japanese, but the Japanese also use
it to refer to the color of the rising sun, as seen on the
flag of Japan.
Hawaiian for "clever, intelligent and cool."
AKZO — named from the
1969 merger of Algemene Kunstzijde Unie (AKU) and Koninklijke Zout
Alcatel — from Société Alsacienne de Constructions Atomiques,
de Télécomunications et d'Electronique.
Alcoa — Aluminum Company of America.
Aldi — portmanteau for Albrecht (name of the founders) and discount
Alfa Romeo — The company was originally known as ALFA, an acronym for Anonima
Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. When Nicola Romeo
bought ALFA in 1915, his surname was appended.
Allegra Print & Imaging — from All Electronic Graphics.
The international printing franchise was formerly known as "American Speedy
Alstom — set up as Alsthom in 1928 by Société Alsacienne de Constructions
Mécaniques and Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston, and changed the spelling
to Alstom in 1997.
AltaVista — Spanish for "high view".
ALZA — from the name of the founder Alex Zaffaroni.
Amazon.com — Founder
Jeff Bezos renamed the company Amazon (from the earlier name of
Cadabra.com) after the world's most voluminous river, the
Amazon. He saw the potential for a larger volume of sales in an online (as
opposed to a bricks and mortar) bookstore. (Alternative: Amazon was chosen to
cash in on the popularity of Yahoo, which listed entries alphabetically.)
Ambev — American Beverage Company, the largest Brazilian
beverage company and fourth in the world. In 2004 it merged with
Interbrew to create
AMD — Advanced Micro Devices
AMOCO — AMerican Oil COmpany - now part of
Amstrad — Amstrad Consumer Electronics plc was founded by Sir
Alan Michael Sugar in the UK. The name is a contraction of Alan
Michael Sugar TRADing.
Apache — according to the project's 1997 FAQ: "The Apache group was formed
around a number of people who provided patch files that had been written for
NCSA httpd 1.3. The result after combining them was A PAtCHy server."
Apple — for the favourite fruit of co-founder
Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard. He was three
months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call the
Apple Computer if his colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 p.m.
Apple wanted to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated
imagery created by other computer companies at the time — which had names such
Tesseract — in order to get people to use them at home. They looked for a
name that supported a brand positioning strategy that was to be perceived as
simple, warm, human, approachable and different. Note: Apple had to get
approval from the Beatle's Apple Corps to use the name 'Apple' and paid a
one-time royalty of $100,000 to
McIntosh Laboratory, Inc., a maker of high-end audio equipment, to use the
derivative name 'Macintosh' ('Mac').
Arby's — the enunciation of the initials of its founders, the Raffel
Brothers. The partners wanted to use the name "Big Tex," but were
unsuccessful in negotiating with the Akron businessman who was already using
the name. So, Forrest said, "We came up with Arby's, which stands for R.B.,
the initials of Raffel Brothers, although I guess customers might think the
initials stand for roast beef."
Arcelor — created in 2001 by a merger of Arbed (Luxembourg), Aceralia
(Spain) and Usinor (France) with the ambition of becoming a major player in
the steel industry.
Areva — named from the region of
Avila in northern Spain, location of the Arevalo abbey. Its name, minus
one syllable, became AREVA.
ARM Ltd — named after the microprocessor developed by small UK company
Acorn as a successor to the 6502 used in its BBC Microcomputer. ARM originally
stood for Acorn Risc Machine. When the company was spun
off with backing from Apple and VTI, this was changed to Advanced Risc
Arm & Hammer — the founder's name was Armand Maccabee. The word
maccabee is a biblical hebrew name that translates to the English -
Artis (zoo in Amsterdam) — from the Latin phrase, Natura Artis Magistra,
or Nature is Art's Teacher
ASDA — Associated Dairies, a large UK supermarket chain now
a subsidiary of
ASICS — an acronym for Anima Sana In Corpore
Sano, which, translated from Latin, means "Healthy soul in a healthy
body". Originally the citation is
mens sana in corpore sano, but MSICS does not sound very good.
Ask Jeeves — search engine formerly named after the gentleman's gentleman
P. G. Wodehouse's series of books. It was shortened to Ask in 2006.
Aston Martin — from the "Aston Hill" races (near
Aston Clinton) where the company was founded, and the surname of
Lionel Martin, the company's founder.
AT&T — the American Telephone and Telegraph
Corporation officially changed its name to AT&T in the 1990s.
Atari — From the board game
Go, "atari" is a Japanese word to describe a position where an opponent's
stones are in danger of being captured. It is similar, though not identical,
to "check" in chess. The original games company was American but wanted a
ATS — Auto Technik Spezialerzeugnisse, German company
producing light alloy wheels and motor parts with an own Formula 1 racing team
in the late 70s and early 80s.
Audi — Latin translation of the German name 'Horch'. The founder
August Horch left the company after five years, but still wanted to
manufacture cars. Since the original 'Horch' company was still there, he
called his new company Audi, the Latin form of his last name. In English it
B&Q — from the initials of its founders, Richard Block and David
Bang & Olufsen — from the names of its founders, Peter Bang and Svend
Olufsen, who met at a School of Engineering in Denmark.
Bally — originally Lion Manufacturing, the company changed its name to
Bally after the success of its first popular pinball machine, Ballyhoo.
BASF — Initials of Badische Anilin und Soda Fabriken.
Anilin and Soda were their first products. Badisch refers to the
location in the state of Baden, Germany (Black forest region).
Bauknecht — Founded as an electrotechnical
Bayer — Friedrich Bayer was the founder of the company and brought the
company into the commercial register on 1, 1863.
BBC — from British Broadcasting Corporation,
British Broadcasting Company.
BEA Systems — from the first initial of each of the company's three
founders: Bill Coleman, Ed Scott and Alfred Chuang.
BEGO — short form for Bremer Goldschlägerei. It should be
BREGO, but was difficult to pronounce. BEGO is a manufacturer of dental goods.
BenQ — Bringing Enjoyment and Quality to life
Betty Crocker — A fictitious name.
Bic — The pen company was named after one of the founders, Marcel Bich.
Bich decided to drop the 'h' from Bich in order to avoid a potentially
inappropriate English pronunciation of the name.
Black & Decker — named after founders S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G.
Blaupunkt — Blaupunkt ("Blue dot") was founded in 1923 under the name
"Ideal". Its core business was the manufacturing of
headphones. If the headphones came through quality tests, the company
would give the headphones a blue dot. The headphones quickly became known as
the blue dots or blaue Punkte. The quality symbol would become a
trademark and the trademark would become the company name in
BMW — abbreviation of Bayerische Motoren Werke
(Bavarian Motor Factories).
Borealis — The Northern Lights or
Aurora Borealis, is the celestial phenomenon that features bursts of light
in colourful patterns dancing across the night skies of the north. Borealis,
inspired from the shining brilliance of the Northern Lights, was formed in
1994 out of the merger between two northern oil companies, Norway's
Statoil and Finland's
BP — formerly British Petroleum, now "BP" (The slogan
"Beyond Petroleum" has incorrectly been taken to refer to the company's new
name following its rebranding effort in 2000).
BRAC — abbreviation for Bangladesh Rural & Advancement
Committee, world's largest NGO (non governmental organization). It
works in development programs around the world.
Bridgestone — named after founder Shojiro Ishibashi. The surname Ishibashi
"stone bridge", or "bridge of stone".
Bull — Compagnie des machines Bull was founded in Paris to exploit
the patents for punched card machines taken out by a Norwegian engineer,
Fredrik Rosing Bull.
Bultaco — Catalan company of motorcycles, disappeared in the 80s. Its name
is based on the name of its founder, Paco Bultó.
C&A — named after the brothers Clemens and August
Brenninkmeijer, who founded a textile company called C&A in the Netherlands in
Cadillac — named after the 18th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de
La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan. Cadillac is a small
town in the South of France.
Canon — Originally (1933) Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory
the new name (1935) derived from the name of the company's first camera, the
Kwannon, in turn named after the Japanese name of the Buddhist
bodhisattva of mercy.
Capco — Short for Capital Markets Company, founded by Rob
Heyvaert (soon to appear in the Belgian version of The Apprentice). Capco is a
global provider serving the financial services industry.
Caprabo — Catalan supermarkets, founded by Carbó, Prats and
Carrefour — The first (and smallest) Carrefour store is located in Annecy
near a crossroads (carrefour in French).
Casio — from the name of its founder,
Kashio Tadao, who had set up the company Kashio Seisakujo as a
CGI — from the first letter of Information Management Consultant in French
(Conseiller en Gestion et Informatique).
Ciba Geigy — CIBA means Chemical Industry
Basel, merged with a company named after its founder Johann Rudolf
Geigy-Merian. It was renamed
Novartis after a merger with
Cincom — originally called United Computer Systems, which was similar to
several other software and services companies of the day. Two of the three
founders visited Philco (Philadelphia Company), and this inspired them to
create a new company name derived from Cincinnati (where it was based)
and Computer (its business).
CINTIS — an (initialism) from Consulting, Information,
Networking, Technology, Integration and Software (Business
Solutions). Company incorporated in England & Wales in 2003 by Patrick
David Hurd to support international companies moving into Europe, Middle
East & Africa.
Cisco — short for
San Francisco. It has also been suggested that it was "CIS-co":
Computer Information Services was the department at
Stanford University where the founders worked.
Citroën — named after André-Gustave Citroën (1878-1935), a French
entrepreneur of Dutch descent. He was the fifth and last child of the Dutch
Jewish diamond merchant Levie Citroen and Mazra Kleinmann (of Warsaw, Poland).
The Citroen family moved to Paris from Amsterdam in 1873 where the name
changed to Citroën.
COBRA — Computadores Brasileiros, "Brazilian
Computers", electronics and services company, was the first state-owned
designer and producer of computers in the
1970s, later acquired by the
Banco do Brasil.
Coca-Cola — Coca-Cola's name is derived from the
coca leaves and
kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator
John S. Pemberton changed the 'K' of kola to 'C' for the name to look
Coleco — began as the Connecticut Leather Company.
Colgate-Palmolive — formed from a merger of soap manufacturers Colgate &
Company and Palmolive-Peet. Peet was dropped in 1953. Colgate
was named after William Colgate, an English immigrant, who set up a starch,
soap and candle business in
New York City in 1806. Palmolive was named for the two oils (Palm
and Olive) used in its manufacture.
COLT — from City Of London Telecom
Comcast - a contraction of the first syllable of "communication" and the
last syllable of "broadcast".
Compaq — from "comp" for
computer, and "pack" to denote a small integral object; or: Compatibility
And Quality; or: from the company's first product, the very compact
Comsat — an American digital
satellite company, founded during the
President Kennedy era to develop the technology. Contraction of Communications
alcohol, its name is a contraction of Cooperativa de Açucar e Álcool.
Corel — from the founder's name Dr.
Michael Cowpland. It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.
steel mill, located in
Cubatão, the state of
São Paulo. Its name is an abbreviation of Companhia Siderúrgica
Cray Research — supercomputer company named after its founder, Seymour
Roger Cray, who was killed in a car crash in 1996.
Cromemco, Inc. — early microcomputer company in Silicon Valley (circa
1975-198?) founded by two professors who once lived at Stanford's Crothers
Cronos — Belgian e-business integrator, founded by Jef De Wit and named
Cronus (or Kronos), the father of
Zeus and his siblings (in Greek religion and mythology).
CVS — abbreviation of Consumer Value Stores.
Daewoo — company founder Kim Woo Chong called it Daewoo which means "Great
Danone (Dannon in USA) — Isaac Clarassó in Barcelona made his first
yoghourts with the nickname of his son Daniel
Debian — project founder Ian Murdock named it after himself and his
deEvia.com — named for
Edgar de Evia noted photographer, artist and author
DEKA — Manchester, NH R&D company responsible for Segway, iBOT, HomeChoice
Dialysis and so on, named after founder Dean Kamen.
Dell — named after its founder,
Michael Dell. The company changed its name from Dell Computer in 2003.
Denning & Fourcade, Inc. — interior designer company named after its
Robert Denning and
Vincent Fourcade in 1960.
Denvia Reality, Inc. — real estate holding company named after its
founders Robert Denning and Edgar de Evia
DHL — named after its founders, Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom,
and Robert Lynn.
DNC P&R — Delaware North Companies Parks and
Dow — named after its founder,
Herbert Henry Dow.
dreihundertzehn — German advertising agency, whose name is based on a
running-gag, rounding up the resolution value of an image for best results in
60-point-raster in offset-print, normally 304,8 dpi or, rounded up, 310.
DKNY — Donna Karan New York.
EA Games — EA is from Electronic Arts. The company was
founded in May 1982 as Amazin' Software and changed its name to Electronic
Arts in October the same year.
eBay — Pierre Omidyar, who had created the Auction Web trading website,
had formed a web consulting concern called Echo Bay Technology Group. "Echo
Bay" didn't refer to the town in Nevada, the nature area close to
Lake Mead, or to any real place. "It just sounded cool," Omidyar
reportedly said. When he tried to register EchoBay.com, though, he found that
Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, had gotten it first. So, Omidyar
registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name: eBay.com.
EgoBits — Software company in Guayaquil, Ecuador, derived its name by
joining Ego concepts with bits and bytes
Eletropaulo — One of the largest Brazilian companies in
electricity generation and distribution, its name derives from Companhia
de Eletricidade de São Paulo.
aircraft manufacturer, its name is an abbreviation of Empresa
Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Brazilian Aeronautics Enterprise).
EMBRAPA — Brazilian state
agricultural research and development company, its name is an abbreviation
of Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária.
EMBRATEL — an abbreviation of Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicações.
telecommunications company, it was a
state monopoly until 1992 when it was privatized and sold to
MCI, then later resold to
EMC² Corporation — named from the initials of the founders, Richard Egan
and Roger Marino. There has long been a rumor that another partner
provided the third letter (C). Other reports indicate the C stands for Company.
EMC adopted the EMC² notation to refer to Einstein's famous equation,
Epson — Epson Seiko Corporation, the Japanese printer and peripheral
manufacturer, was named from "Son of Electronic Printer"
Esso — the enunciation of the initials S.O. in Standard Oil
of New Jersey.
Exxon — a name contrived by Esso (Standard Oil of New Jersey) in the early
70s to create a neutral but distinctive label for the company. Within days of
announcement of the name, Exxon was being called the "double cross company"
but this eventually subsided. (Esso is a trademark of ExxonMobil. Esso had to
change its name for American purposes to Exxon because of restrictions dating
1911 Standard Oil
Fanta — was originally invented by Max Keith in Germany in 1940 when World
War II made it difficult to get the Coca-Cola syrup to Nazi Germany. Fanta was
originally made from byproducts of cheese and jam production. The name comes
from the German word for imagination (Fantasie or Phantasie), because the
inventors thought that imagination was needed to taste oranges from the
Fazer — named after its founder,
Fegime — abbreviation for "Fédération Européenne des Grossistes
Indépendants" (European Federation of Independent Electrical Wholesalers).
Fiat — acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian
Factory of Cars of Turin)
Fiatc — acronym of Federació Industrial de Autotransports de Catalunya
(Federación Industrial de Autotransportes de Cataluña). FIATC originated in
Barcelona (Catalonia/Spain) in April 1930, when the Union of Carriers was
formed to share the risks derived from its activity.
Finnair — from "Finland" and "air". Originally called "Aero Osakeyhtiö",
which the international flight code "AY" comes from.
Firestone — named after its founder,
Fluke — named after its founder, John Fluke, Sr.
Ford Motor Company — named after its founder,
Henry Ford, who introduced automobile mass production in
Fuji — named after Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.
Häagen-Dazs — Contrary to common belief the name is not European; it is
simply two made-up words meant to look European to American eyes. This is
known in the marketing industry as
Haier — Chinese 海
"sea" and 尔
transliteration character; also means "you" in
H&M — In 1947, a Swedish businessman named Erling Persson established
Hennes, a ladies' clothing store, in Västerås, Sweden. "Hennes" is Swedish for
"hers." In 1968, Persson acquired premises in Stockholm for his chain by
buying the premises and inventory of a hunting equipment store named Mauritz
Widforss. Included in the inventory was a collection of men's clothing,
prompting Persson to expand into menswear. Accordingly, he renamed the company
Hennes & Mauritz, which was later abbreviated to H&M.
Haribo — From the name of the founder and the
German home town of the company: HAns RIegel,
Hasbro — Founded by Henry and Helal Hassenfeld, the Hassenfeld
Bill Hewlett and
Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded
would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
Hitachi — old place name, literally "sunrise"
Hoechst — from the name of a district in
Honda — from the name of its founder,
Honeywell — from the name of
Mark Honeywell founder of Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. It later merged
with Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company and was finally called Honeywell Inc.
Hospira — The name, selected by the company’s employees, is derived from
the words hospital, spirit, inspire and the Latin word spero, which means
hope. It reflects the company’s primary market focus, its heritage as the core
global hospital products business of Abbott, and expresses the hope and
optimism that are critical in the healthcare industry.
Hotmail — Founder
Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer
anywhere in the world. When
Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service he tried
all kinds of names ending in 'mail'
and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "HTML"
— the markup language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as
HoTMaiL with selective upper casing. (If you click on Hotmail's 'mail' tab,
you will still find "HoTMaiL" in the URL.)
HSBC — The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
Hyundai — connotes the sense of "the present age" or "modernity" in
IBM — named by Tom Watson, an ex-employee of National Cash Register. To
one-up them in all respects, he called his company International Business
- ICL — abbreviation for
International Computers Ltd, once the UK's largest computer company but
now a service arm of Fujitsu, of Japan.
iCodsi Labs — it is a word which does not exist in any language, it sounds
good and, of course, the .com and .biz domains were available.
IDX, Inc — named from Internet Data Exchange. IDX is
a term used to describe the use and transfer of data from the Multiple Listing
Service, for use on a real estate Web site.
IG Farben — Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie
AG was so named because the constituent German companies produced
dyestuffs among many other chemical compounds. The consortium is most
known today for its central participation in the WWII
Holocaust, as it made the
Zyklon B gas used in the
Iiyama — manufacturer of monitors and TVs named after the Japanese city,
IKEA — founded by
Ingvar Kamprad of Sweden. The name IKEA comes from a clever acronym using
the initials of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who was from a family farm called
Elmtaryd, which was near the village of Agunnaryd. The acronym is for a
Swedish phrase but it turns out to be the same in English, Ingvar Kamprad's
IKON — copier company name derived from I Know One
Imhotep Ltd — named after
Imhotep (BC 2686–2613), the first engineer. He built the step pyramid at
Inbev — The name was created after the merger of the Belgian company
Interbrew with Brazilian
Inditex — a Spanish group named from Industria de diseño
Infineon Technologies — derived from Infinity and Aeon. The
name was given to
Siemens's Semiconductor branch (called Siemens HL or Siemens SC/SSC) when
it was spun off.
Intel — Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore initially incorporated their company as
N M Electronics. Someone suggested Moore Noyce Electronics but it sounded too
close to "more noise" — not a good choice for an electronics company! Later,
Integrated Electronics was proposed but it had been taken by somebody else so
they used the initial syllables (INTegrated
ELectronics). To avoid potential conflicts with other companies of
similar names, Intel purchased the name rights for $15,000 from a company
called Intelco. (Source: Intel 15 Years Corporate Anniversary Brochure)
Interland — a web hosting provider formally known as
Micron Computer, Inc. which was named either after Internet Land or the
combination of the largest acqusition it performed, Interliant with the word
Itautec — a
Brazilian computer manufacturer, its name comes from Itaú Tecnologia
S/A. It is owned by the
Banco Itaú private conglomerate. Itauna ("black stone") is a word in the
Tupí-Guaraní languages of
Amerindians which gives the name to the city of
Itaú in the state of
Jägermeister — German for Hunt Master.
JAL — from Japan Airlines
Jat Airways — founded in 1927 as "Aeroput" (Airway in Serbian). From 1947,
it was known as JAT (Jugoslovenski Aero Transport). After
the break-up of the former Yugoslavia (and after Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro), the company kept the
name, Jat, but not as an abbrevation.
JVC — from Japan Victor Company
Kawasaki — from the name of its founder,
Keller Williams Realty — Combintation of the names of the two founders,
Gary Keller and Joe Williams.
KFC — short for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is
popularly believed that the company adopted the abbreviated form of its name
in 1991 to avoid the unhealthy connotations of the word 'fried'. In actuality,
it is because the Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked the name "Kentucky" in
1990. Anyone who used the word "Kentucky" for business reasons needed to pay
licensing fees to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky Fried Chicken changed
their name to KFC to avoid paying these fees. Recent commercials have tried to
imply that the abbreviation stands for "Kitchen Fresh Chicken".
Kia Motors — The name "Kia" (起亞)
roughly translates as "Rising from Asia" in Chinese characters.
Kinko's — from college nickname of founder,
Paul Orfalea. He was called Kinko because he had curly red hair.
Knallgrau — When two founders where talking on the phone about the company
name, they missunderstood each other. One said "Knall" (which means "bang")
the other one "Grau" (grey).
Kodak — Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder
George Eastman. The letter "K" was a favourite with Eastman; he felt it a
strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words
starting and ending with "K". He saw three advantages in the name. It had the
merits of a trademark word, would not be mis-pronounced and the name did not
resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was
chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the
Konica — it was earlier known as Konishiroku Kogaku.
Konishiroku in turn is the short for Konishiya Rokubeiten which
was the first name of the company established by
Rokusaburo Sugiura in the 1850s.
Korg — Formed from the surnames of the founders, Tsutomu Katoh and Tadashi
Osanai, combined with the letters "rg" from the word organ.
Kroger — from the name of it's founder,
Kyocera — from Kyoto Ceramics, after Kyoto in Japan.
Lada — from the name of a Slavic goddess.
Lancôme — began in 1935, when its founder, Armand Petitjean, was exploring
the ruins of a castle, Le Chateau de Lancôme (Loire-et-Cher)
while vacationing in the French countryside. Petitjean's inspiration for the
company's symbol, a rose, was the many wild roses growing around the castle.
LEGO — combination of the Danish "leg godt", which means to "play well."
Lego also means "I put together" in Latin, but
LEGO Group claims this is only a coincidence and the etymology of the word
is entirely Danish. Years before the little plastic brick was invented, LEGO
manufactured wooden toys.
Lexus — Toyota labeled the program to develop a luxury car for the United
States as Luxury Export to the U.S. When it came time to
choose a name for the car the company just shortened the working title.
LG — combination of two popular Korean brands Lucky and Goldstar. (In
Mexico publicists explained the name change to the public as an abbreviation
to Línea Goldstar Spanish for Goldstar Line)
- LMW — Lakshmi Machine
Works, India based manufacturer of the entire range of textile spinning
machinery, and an engineering powerhouse.
LoJack — "LoJack" (the stolen-vehicle recovery system) is a pun on the
word "Hijack" (to steal a vehicle).
Lominger Limited — combination of the two founders last names: Lombardo
Longines — In 1862 the new company "Ancienne Maison Auguste Agassiz,
Ernest Francillon, Successeur" was born. At that time watchmaking in the area
used the skills of people working outside the "comptoir d'établissage", often
at home. In 1866 Ernest Francillon bought two plots of land on the right bank
of the river Suze at the place called "Les Longines" and brought all of the
watchmaking skills under one roof. This was the first "Longines factory".
Lonsdale — Boxing equipment manufacturer named after the Lonsdale belt, a
boxing trophy donated by the English Lord Lonsdale.
L'Oréal — In 1907, Eugène Schueller, a young French chemist, developed an
innovative hair-color formula. He called his improved hair dye Auréole.
Lotus Software —
Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from 'The
Lotus Position' or 'Padmasana'. Kapor used to be a teacher of
Transcendental Meditation technique as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Lucent Technologies — a spin-off from AT&T, it was named Lucent (meaning
"luminous" or "glowing with light") because "light as a metaphor for visionary
thinking reflected the company's operating and guiding business philosophy,"
according to the Landor Associates staff who chose the name. Source:
Design Management Journal 8:1 (Winter 1997).
Lycos — from Lycosidae, the family of
Macronimous — formed from the word "Magnanimous" — Macro gives the similar
meaning as Big, Greathearted or Large and thus forms "Macro + nimous"
MAN — abbreviation for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg
(Augsburg-Nuremberg Machine Company). The MAN company is a German engineering
works and truck manufacturer.
Mandriva — Mandrake Linux and Connectiva Linux merged to become a new
company named Mandriva.
— Manufacturing + Logistics, a leading supplier of Supply Chain
Mars, Inc — named after Frank C. Mars and his wife, Ethel, who started
making candy in 1911. Their son, Forrest E. Mars, joined with Bruce Murrie,
the son of a Hershey executive, to form M&M Ltd (from Mars & Murrie).
Forrest took over the family business after his father's death and merged the
two companies in 1964. After retiring from Mars, Inc., in 1993, he founded
Ethel M. Chocolates, named after his mother.
Masco Corporation — from the names of the founder [[Alex Manoogian]],
Screw and Company. Masco Screw Products Co. was founded in 1929
Mattel — a
portmanteau of the founders names Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler.
Mazda Motor — from the company's first president, Jujiro Matsuda. In
Japanese, no syllables are ever stressed and some inner syllables are
virtually skipped. Thus, Matsuda is pronounced "Matsda". To make the name fly
better outside of Japan the spelling was changed to Mazda. Its name is also
Ahura Mazda, the chief deity of the Zoroastrians.
Mazda Eclairage — probably from the name of the
MBNA — originally a subsidiary of Maryland National Corporation, MBNA once
stood for Maryland Bank, NA (NA itself standing for
National Association, a federal designation representing the bank's charter).
McDonald's — from the name of the brothers
Dick McDonald and
Mac McDonald, who founded the first McDonald's restaurant in 1940.
MCI Communications — Microwave Communications, Inc.
The company later merged with
Worldcom to create
MCI Worldcom. The MCI was dropped in 2000 and the acquiring company
changed its name to MCI when it emerged from bankruptcy in 2003.
Mercedes — This is the first name of the daughter of
Emil Jellinek, who distributed cars of the early Daimler company around
Merillat Industries — Named for
Orville D. Merillat who founded the company in 1946.
MFI — from Mullard Furniture Industries. The original
company was named after the founder's wife, whose
maiden name was Mullard.
MGM — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was formed by the merger of three picture
houses: Metro Picture Corporation,
Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures.
Goldwyn Picture Corporation in turn was named after the last names of
Samuel Goldfish and
Microlins — a professional educational franchise in Brazil, started as a
computing school in the city of
Lins. Its name is a combination of micro (from microcomputers) and
the name of the city.
Micron Technology — computer memory producer named after the microscopic
parts of its products. The official name was Micron Computer, Inc. Since then
the company has become Interland, a web hosting provider, after
selling/spinning off its RAM division and closing down its computer division,
licensing the name. The company is now headquartered in Atlanta.
Microsoft — coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted
SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later.
midPhase Services, Inc. — midPhase stands for Middle Phase, or middle of
Midway Games — derived from the name of an airport on the southwestern
part of Chicago.
Minolta — Minolta was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1928 as Nichi-Doku
Shashinki Shōten (日独写真機商店;
literally: Japan-Germany camera shop). It was not until 1934 that the name
Minolta, meaning "ripening fields of rice" in Japanese, first appeared on a
camera, the Minolta Vest.
MIPS — originally stood for Microprocessor without Interlocking
Pipeline Stages. When interlocks where added to a later
implementation the name was redefined to not be an acronmym but just a name.
(The name also connates computer speed, by association with the acroynm for
millions of instructions per second.)
Mitel — from Mike and Terry's Lawnmowers after the
founders Michael Cowpland and Terry Matthews, and the company's original
MITRE — Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research
Mitsubishi — The name Mitsubishi (三菱)
has two parts: mitsu means three and hishi (changing to bishi in the middle of
the word) means water chestnut, and from here rhombus, which is reflected in
the company's logo. Mitsubishi means three diamonds in Japanese
Mormaii — derived from Morongo, the founder's nickname, Maria,
the founder's wife's name (at foundation time) and Hawaii.
Motorola — Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company (at
the time, Galvin Manufacturing Company) started manufacturing
cars. Many audio equipment makers of the era used the "ola" ending for
their products, most famously the "Victrola"
phonograph made by the
Victor Talking Machine Company. The name was meant to convey the idea of
"sound" and "motion". The name became so recognized that the company later
adopted it as the company name
Moxie Media — named after "an exceptional English short haired pointer
that belonged to Walt Crory, one of Moxie's founders".
Mozilla Foundation — from the name of the web-browser that preceded
Netscape Navigator. When Marc Andreesen, founder of
Netscape, created a browser to replace the Mosaic browser, it was
internally named Mozilla (Mosaic-Killer,
MVC — the name of the
UK entertainment chain stands for Music and Video Club.
MRF — from Madras Rubber Factory, founded by K M
Mammen Mappillai in 1946. He started with a toy-balloon manufacturing unit at
Tiruvottiyur, Chennai (then called Madras). In 1952 he began manufacturing
tread-rubber and, in 1961, tyres
Nabisco — formerly The National Biscuit Company,
changed in 1971 to Nabisco.
NCR Corporation — from National Cash Register. When
owned by AT&T the company's initials were (unofficially?) said to stand for
AT&T's Network Computing Resource.
Nero — Nero Burning ROM named after Nero burning Rome.
Nestlé — named after its founder,
Henri Nestlé, who was born in Germany under the name "Nestle", which is
German (actually, Swabian
diminutive) for "bird's nest". The company logo is a bird's nest with a
mother bird and two chicks.
Netsab — named from Network plus Sander, Andree and
Bebo, who founded this Internet start-up in 2003.
Netscape — Originally the product name of the company's web browser
("Mosaic Communications Netscape Web Navigator"). The company adopted
the product name after the
University of Illinois threatened to sue for
trademark infringement over the use of the Mosaic name. Netscape then paid
Landor $50,000 to design a logo.
New Dragon — In Chinese mythology
dragons represent celestial and terrestrial power, wisdom and strength.
The company is named after this symbol.
Nike — named for the
Greek goddess of victory.
Nikon — the original name was Nippon Kogaku, meaning
Nintendo — Nintendo is composed of three Japanese Kanji characters,
Nin-ten-do. The first two can be translated to "Heaven blesses hard work";
do is a common ending for any store.
Nissan — the company was earlier known by the name Nippon Sangyo
which means "Japanese industry".
Nokia — started as a wood-pulp mill, the company expanded into producing
rubber products in the Finnish city of
Nokia. The company later adopted the city's name.
Nortel — The Nortel Networks name came from Nortel (Northern Telecom) and
Bay Networks. The company was originally spun off from the Bell Telephone
Company of Canada Ltd in 1895 as Northern Electric and Manufacturing and
traded as Northern Electric from 1914 to 1976.
Novartis — after the Latin expression "novae artes" which means something
like "new skills".
Novell — Novell, Inc. was earlier Novell Data Systems co-founded by
George Canova. The name was suggested by George's wife who mistakenly
thought that "Novell" meant new in French. Nouvelle is the feminine
form of the French adjective 'Nouveau'. Nouvelle as a noun in French is 'news'.
o.b. — tampons, from German ohne Binde, without sanitary towel.
Oracle — Larry Ellison, Ed Oates and Bob Miner were working on a
consulting project for the
CIA. The code name for the project was
Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or
some such). The project was designed to use the newly written SQL database
language from IBM. The project was eventually terminated but they decided to
finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle
and created the RDBMS engine. Later they changed the name of the company,
Relational Technology Inc., to the name of the product.
Osram — from osmium and wolfram.
Pamida — US retailer founded by Jim Witherspoon and Lee Wegener, it took
its name from the first two letters of the names of Witherspoon's three sons:
Patrick, Michael and David
Pennzoil — formed by a merger of
South Penn Oil, a former
Standard Oil subsidiary, and
Pepsi — named from the digestive enzyme
oil company named from Petrol and Brasil.
Philips — Royal Philips Electronics was founded in 1891 by brothers Gerard
(the engineer) and Anton (the entrepreneur) Philips.
PMC-Sierra — PMC from Pacific Microelectronics Centre,
a research arm of BC Tel, and Sierra from the company that acquired it, Sierra
Semiconductor, presumably so named because of the allure of the Sierra Nevada
mountains to members of a California-based company.
Polo Schoenmode — Dutch shoe-shop founded in 1955 by Cees van de Pol
in the small village of Oirschot in the south of The Netherlands.
Pontiac — Pontiac or Obwandiyag (between 1712 and 1725–1769) was a Native
American Ottawa war leader, remembered for his participation in a struggle
against British occupation of the Great Lakes region that bears his name:
Porsche — car company named after Ferry Porsche, son of the founder
Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian automotive engineer. The family-name may
have originated in the Czech name "Boreš" (boresh).
Psion — UK company named by its founder, South Africa-born Dr David
Potter, from Potter Scientific Instruments Or Nothing.
Q8 — The acronym for these gas stations sounds like Kuwait, that
is, the letter Q followed by the number 8. It is the abbreviation for Kuwait
Qantas — From its original name, Queensland and Northern
Territory Aerial Services.
Quark — named after an atomic particle. The word quark originates
from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
QVC — Quality, Value and Convenience
RAND — Research ANd Development.
Raytheon — "Light of the gods." Maker of missiles such as Patriot,
Maverick, Sidewinder and Tomahawk, among other military technology.
RCA — from the initials Radio Corporation of America.
RES — from the initials Real Enterprise Solutions.
Red Hat — while at college, company founder Marc Ewing was given the
lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) by his grandfather. People
would turn to him to solve their problems and he was referred to as that
guy in the red hat. He lost the cap, later the manual of the beta version
of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers (anyone finding it) to return his
Red Tettemer — Philadelphia ad agency named after partners and co-founders
Steve Red and Ed Tettemer.
Reebok — alternate spelling of
rhebok (Pelea capreolus), an African antelope.
Repsol — name derived from Refineria de Petroleo de eScombreras
Oil (Escombreras is an oil refinery in Cartagena, Spain) and
chosen for its euphony when the, then, state-owned oil company was
incorporated in 1986. Previously Repsol was a lubricating-oil trademark.
Research In Motion — the company behind BlackBerry started as a freelance
research firm involved in display and movie-audio technology. (For the origins
of the BlackBerry name, see
Rhapsody Technologies — an IT Consulting company that implements
integrated software applications such as ERP and CRM Systems used the word
Rhapsody to indicate the integrated aspect of the systems.
RN Brasil — from the initial letters of Radio News and
Rolls-Royce — In
Frederick Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business,
making his first car, a Royce, in
1904. He was introduced to
Charles Stewart Rolls on 4 May of that year, and the pair entered into a
partnership in which Royce would manufacture cars to be sold exclusively by
Rolls. A clause was added to the contract stipulating that the cars would be
RSA Security — formed from the first letters of the family-names of its
Adi Shamir and
SAAB — founded in 1937 in
Sweden as Svenska Aeroplan aktiebolaget"
(Swedish Aeroplane Company) abbreviated SAAB.
Sabre — Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment.
Samsonite — named from the Biblical character Samson, renowned for his
Samsung — meaning three stars in Korean.
Sanyo — The Japanese translation is disputed, although the Chinese name is
(literally, "Three Oceans")
SAP — "Systems,
Products in Data Processing", formerly "SystemAnalyse und
Programmentwicklung" (German for "System analysis and program development"),
formed by four ex-IBM employees who used to work in the
'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM.
SCO — from Santa Cruz Operation. The company's office
Santa Cruz, California. It eventually formed the Tarantella division and
sold off its operating system division to Caldera Inc (a spin off of Novell).
Caldera changed its own name to 'The SCO Group'.
Saudi Aramco — Originally it was ARAMCO (Arabian American
Oil Company). However, when the Saudi government purchased it in 1988,
its name Aramco was known all over the world and particularly in
Saudi Arabia. So it was changed to Saudi Aramco without regard to the
original meaning of the acronym ARAMCO, which is not related to the current
full official name: "Saudi Arabian Oil Company."
SEAT — an acronym from Sociedad Española de Automóviles
de Turismo (Spanish Corporation of Private Cars).
SEGA — Service Games of Japan was founded by Marty Bromley
(an American) to import pinball games to Japan for use on American military
Seiko — According to Seiko's official company history, titled A Journey
In Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko (2003), Seiko is a Japanese word
for "exquisite", "minute", or "success".
Seisint — Seismic Intelligence.
SGI — from Silicon Graphics Inc.
Sharp — Japanese consumer electronics company named from its first
product, an ever-sharp pencil.
Shell — Royal Dutch/Shell was established in 1907, when the Royal Dutch
Petrol Society Plc. and the Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd. merged
their operations. The Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd had been
established at the end of the 19th century by commercial firm Samuel & Co
(founded in 1830). Samuel & Co were already importing Japanese shells when
they set up an oil company, so the oil company was named after the shells.
Siemens — founded in 1847 by
Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske. The company was originally
called Telegraphen-Bau-Anstalt von Siemens & Halske.
SIMchronise — wireless synchronisation company named from the SIM
Subscriber Identity Module in a mobile phone and synchronise.
Six Apart — company co-founders
Ben and Mena Trott were born six days apart (in September 1977).
SKF — from Svenska Kullagerfabriken AB, a Swedish
manufacturer founded in 1907. See also
Smart — Swatch + Mercedes + Art
Smilebit — Former Sega development studio. Name comes from what they hope
to make you do (smile), and the smallest unit of computer information (bit).
Smeg — acronym based on the Italian towns where the original enamelling
factory was located in Guastalla, Italy.
SNK — Shin Nihon Kikaku, Japanese for Plans for a
Sony — from the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang word
used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster, "since we were sonny boys
working in sound and vision", said Akio Morita. Sony was originally called
Tokyo Tsoshiu Kogyo Kabushika Kaika. Sony was chosen as it could be pronounced
easily in many languages
Sorcim — Early personal computer manufacturer named "micros" backwards.
Sperry — company founded by Elmer A Sperry, which took over Univac. It was
eventually taken over by Burroughs, with the combined company being called
Unisys, from United Information Systems.
Spoke — company founded by Ben Smith, Chris Tolles and others. In a
meeting with Chris Tolles, Ben Smith, Erik Straser of MDV and Tim Connors of
USVP where the company was being called SPO for Sales Process Optimization.
SPO was just not going to do as a company name given the potential
connotations. Erik suggested Sales Process Optimization
and Knowledge Enablement which became Spoke. Spoke was often
thought to refer to the connections between people.
Sprint — from its parent company, Southern Pacific Railroad
INTernal Communications. Back in those days pipelines and railroad
tracks were the cheapest place to lay communications lines, as the
right-of-way was already leased or owned.
Starbucks — named after Starbuck, a character in Herman Melville's whaling
Stellent — coined from a combination of the words stellar and excellent.
Derisively referred to as the combination of STupid and repELLENT by some.
Subaru — from the Japanese name for the constellation known to Westerners
Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. Subaru was formed from a merger of seven
other companies, and the constellation is featured on the company's logo.
Sun Microsystems — its founders designed their first
workstation in their dorm at
Stanford University, and chose the name Stanford University Network
for their product, hoping to sell it to the college. They didn't.
SuSE — from Software und System-Entwicklung
(Software and system development).
Suzuki — from the name of its founder,
Swicofil — company founded by René Hess and Beda Ricklin in September
1995. Swicofil stands for (in French) Swiss Company for Yarns.
Taco Bell — named after founder [[Glen Bell]].
Brazilian airline company (the second largest in the country).
Abbreviation of Transportes Aéreos Marília because its
origins are in the city of
Marília, state of
São Paulo, where it began as an air taxi founded by
Rolim Amaro. Marília is a woman's name, taken from the
Marília de Dirceu written by
Thomaz Antonio Gonzaga an 18th century Brazilian poet.
Taxan — made-up name chosen partly because Takusan is a Japanese word for
many or much and was considered propitious, but mainly because
the head of the company, in the US at the time, Tak Shimizu was known by
everyone as Tak-san.
Telvent — Telecom Ventures.
Tesa — the name of the secretary was Elsa T'smer
Tesco — Founder Jack Cohen who, from 1919, sold groceries in the
markets of the
London East End. He acquired a large shipment of tea from [[T. E. Stockwell]]
and made new labels by using the first three letters of the supplier's name
and the first two letters of his surname forming the word TESCO.
THX — From the name of the technology's inventor and the audio technology
of a crossover amplifier:
Tomlinson Holman Crossover. This may be a
backronym, as the technology is owned by
George Lucas's company, and he directed
Tim Hortons — named after the founder, future
Hockey Hall of Famer
Toshiba — was founded by the merger of consumer goods company Tokyo
Denki (Tokyo Electric Co) and electrical firm Shibaura Seisaku-sho
(Shibaura Engineering Works).
Toyota — from the founder's name [[Sakichi Toyoda]]. Initially
called Toyeda, it was changed after a contest for a better-sounding name. The
new name was written in
katakana with eight strokes, a number that is considered lucky in Japan.
TVR — Formed from the first name of the company founder Trevor
Umbro — Umbro was founded in 1924 by the Humphrey (`Umphrey) Brothers,
Harold C. and Wallace.
UNICCO — from University Cleaning Company
Unimed — A huge Brazilian medical
cooperative, its name represents an união de medicos
Unisys — from United Information Systems, the new
name for the company that resulted from the merging of two old mainframe
computer companies, Burroughs and Sperry [Sperry Univac/Sperry Rand]. It
united two incompatible ranges. The new-born Unisys was briefly the
world's second-largest computer company, after IBM.
UNOCAL — the Union Oil Company of California was
founded in 1890, before the first gasoline-powered vehicle.
URP Filmes — from Ulisses Rocha Produções — a large
video and broadcast production company in Brazil.
UUNET — one of the industry's oldest and largest Internet Service
Providers, named from UNIX-to-UNIX Network.
Varig — Largest international
airline, its name is an abbreviation of Viação Aérea Rio
Grande do Sul, because it was founded in the state of
Rio Grande do Sul.
Verizon — A portmanteau of veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon.
Virgin — Founder Richard Branson's first company sold records by mail
order. He and his friends chose the name Virgin Records as they were
all virgins when it came to business
Vodafone — is a multinational mobile phone operator with headquarters in
United Kingdom. Its name is made up of Voice, Data, Telefone.
Vodafone made the UK's first mobile call at a few minutes past midnight on 1
Volkswagen — Translates into people's car. A project of Ferdinand
Porsche in the 1930s and 40s to produce a car that was affordable for the
masses — the Kraft-durch-Freude-Wagen (or "Strength-Through-Joy car",
from a nazi social organization) that later became known, in English, as the
Volvo — From the Latin word volvo, which means "I roll". It was
originally a name for a ball bearing being developed by
Wachovia Corporation — from the Latin version of the German wachau,
the name given to a region in North Carolina by German settlers because it
reminded them of a river near their home in Germany. Many companies founded in
or around Charlotte, N.C., have Wachovia in their name.
Waitrose — upmarket UK supermarket chain originally named after the
founders, Wallace Waite, Arthur Rose and David Taylor. The
Taylor was later dropped.
Wal-Mart — named after founder Sam Walton
Wang — from the founder's name, An Wang, the inventor of core
Webpraxis — a Brazilian consulting and web development company based in
Campinas, from Web (of World Wide Web) and praxis a Latin
word meaning practice.
Wendy's — from "Wendy", the nickname of founder
Dave Thomas' daughter Melinda.
WHSmith — founded by Henry Walton Smith and his wife Anna in London,
England, in 1792. They named their small newsagent's shop after their son William
Henry Smith, who was born the same year.
Williams-Sonoma — founded by
Chuck Williams in
Wipro — from Western India Products Limited. The
company started as a modest vanaspati and laundry soap producer and is now an
IT services giant.
Yahoo! — a "backronym" for Yet Another Hierarchical
Officious Oracle. The word Yahoo was invented by
Jonathan Swift and used in his book
Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in
appearance action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders
David Filo and
Jerry Yang selected the name because they jokingly considered themselves
yahoos. It's also an interjection that Southerners and Westerners use to
express their joy.
Yoplait — Yola and Coplait merged in 1965, becoming Yoplait.
The logo they chose was a six-petalled flower, each petal representing one of
the six main co-operatives that founded the company.
Zend Technologies — a contraction derived from the names of Zeeev
Suraski and Andiand Gutmans, the two founders of
Zuse — pioneering German computer company named after its founder, Konrad
Zuse (1910–1995). He built his first computer in his parents' living
room at the end of the 1930s. Zuse was taken over by
Siemens AG. The name is now echoed by
SuSE (Software und System-Entwicklung:
"Software and system development").