Big Companies and Where They Found Their Names

If I ask you to think of the biggest company you know, what do you think of? The answer I’m looking for is the name; that is, you think of the particular companies ‘name.’ What I want to explore is the names of different companies and where they came from. Some might surprise you, some you might already know, and some might even leave you wondering how you didn’t recognize it before.

Let’s start with a homage to video games of the past; Atari was founded in 1972, and soon after created the ever popular ‘Pong’ game. Atari was named after a Japanese verb that means ‘to hit the target,’ it is often used in a game called ‘Go’ in the same way ‘check’ is used in Chess.

Before Atari there was Nintendo, which was founded in — and this might surprise some of you — 1889. Originally they developed handmade cards but we all know and love them as the creators of some amazing game consoles. The name they chose roughly translates to “leave luck to heaven,” or “heaven blesses hard work.”

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Sticking with games but moving into the physical realm, Lego, the ever popular toy used to make… well, anything; comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which is “play well.”

To the automobile industry: Audi, the German car manufacturer discovered its name when it’s founder, August Horch, translated his surname — which means ‘listen’ — into Latin. Speaking of Audi, it was acquired by the Volkswagen Group in 1966, Volkswagen is the world’s largest can manufacturer by revenue with $250 billion in 2012, and in German means “people’s car.”

Image 19The ever growing giant Google was created in 1998, and was named after the googol, which is the number one, followed by 100 zeros. Yes, that is a big number, and was chosen because it represents the wealth of information that Google contains.

To another giant, Sony, a company that seems to do everything from gaming to music devices and all sorts of other electronic devices. The name is the combination of two others, ‘sonus,’ the Latin word for ‘sound,’ and ‘sonny boy,’ which is that old phrase your parents might call you — if you’re a boy of course. Why did they choose that? Well sonny boy, it’s because back in the day the phrase found its way into Japan and was used to represent smart and presentable young males.

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Alright, let’s speed things up a little.

Reebok comes from the Afrikaans ‘rhebok,’ a type of antelope. Pepsi is named after the digestive enzyme pepsin. Kia motors name comes from Sino-Korean to mean “to rise up out of Asia.” Adobe comes from a creek with the same name that ran behind the creators house. Sanyo in Japanese means ‘three oceans.’ Nike from a Greek goddess of victory. Lastly, Verizon is part ‘veritas,’ Latin for truth, and the obvious ‘horizon.’

That about rounds it up. Can you think of any other interesting names from companies?