10 Unusual Company Names Explained

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Check out meanings behind 10 names of companies.

Let’s face it. A lot of companies have strange names. Sure, often they’re recognizable because the company is a famous one, but beyond than that, are they really decipherable?

To help clear up some of the confusion and mystery, here are the explanations behind 10 weird ones.

Number 10. Lego. This one’s particularly tricky because it’s in Danish and it’s been shortened. The name is derived from the words leg godt, which means to play well.

Number 9. Reebok. It’s a variation on rhebok, the Afrikaans word for a local antelope. It was picked from a South African dictionary one of the founders won in a race as a child.

Number 8. Pepsi-Cola. The drink was named both for an enzyme called pepsin to highlight the drink’s superior ability to aid in digestion, and after the kola nut extract it contained. Not exactly the hip image they promote today.

Number 7. Kia. For those who know how to speak Korean, this one is pretty straightforward. In the language KIA translates as ‘rising Asia’.

Number 6. Panera. They could have just called it pan, which in slight variations means bread in a few languages, but their vision was much grander. Instead they chose Panera, the Latin way of saying the ‘time of bread’, which is definitely more encompassing.

Number 5. Google. If you’ve long thought that Google was really a subtle command to go ogle stuff on the Internet you’re not alone. The name, however, is really a take on Googol, the math term for a 1 that’s followed by a hundred zeros. It reflects the founders’ desire to make order out of endless amounts of information.

Number 4. Volkswagen. Literally, it means the people’s car, but it represents the realization of a long-pursued goal in Germany. For years, automakers tried but failed to make a car all could afford. Eventually, Volkswagen succeeded.

Number 3. Canon. Back when it was called the Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory, trial cameras were named Kwanon after the Buddhist goddess of mercy. When it came time to market the brand, the similar sounding option Canon came into play – and favor – as it means the standard by which others are judged.

Number 2. Sony. A combination of Latin and slang, the name is a blend of ‘sonus’, the root of sound and sonic and ‘sonny boy’ a 1950s Japanese street term for forward-looking youth.

Number 1. Nokia. The company has always been in the business of enabling communication, but when it started in 1865 their product was paper. A second mill built a few years later along the shore of Finland’s Nokianvirta river resulted in the company’s new name in 1871.

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