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List of company name etymologies

This is a list of company names with their name origins explained. Some origins are disputed.

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  • 20th Century Fox – Film studio; formed in 1935 through the merger of William Fox's Fox Film, and Twentieth Century Pictures.
  • 23andme - Using the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up each person's genome, the company helps individuals make sense of their own (me) genome.
  • 37signals – Web development company; named for the 37 radiotelescope signals identified by astronomer Paul Horowitz as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • 3Com – Network technology producer; the three coms are computer, communication, and compatibility.
  • 3M – from the company's original name, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.
  • 7-Eleven – Convenience stores; renamed from "U-Tote'm" in 1946 to reflect their newly extended hours, 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

A

  • A&M Records – named after founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss
  • A&P – from Atlantic & Pacific in Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, a US-based supermarket chain.
  • A&W Root Beer – named after founders Roy Allen and Frank Wright
  • ABN AMRO – in the 1960s, the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (Dutch Trading Society; 1824) and De 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 – from "Accent on the future". The name Accenture was proposed by a company employee in Norway as part of an internal name finding process (BrandStorming). Before January 1 2001 the company was called Andersen Consulting.
  • Adecco – named from the merger of Swiss staffing company Adia with French staffing company Ecco.
  • Adidas – from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler.
  • Adobe Systems – from the Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock.
  • Ahold – a holding company of Albert Heijn and other supermarkets. For its 100th anniversary in 1987, Ahold was granted the title of Koninklijke ("Royal" in Dutch) by the Monarchy of the Netherlands, changing its name to Koninklijke Ahold (Royal Ahold).
  • Akai – named for its founder, Masukichi Akai.
  • Akamai – from the Hawaiian word akamai meaning smart or clever; the company defines it as "intelligent, clever and cool".
  • AKZO – named from the 1969 merger of Algemene Kunstzijde Unie (AKU) and Koninklijke Zout Organon (KZO).
  • Alcatel-Lucent – Alcatel was named from Société Alsacienne de Constructions Atomiques, de Télécomunications et d'Electronique. It took over Lucent Technologies in 2006.
  • AlcoaAluminum 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.
  • Alstom – set up as Alsthom in 1928 by Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques and Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston, it 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.)
  • AmBevAmerican Beverage Company, the largest Brazilian beverage company and fourth in the world. In 2004 it merged with Interbrew to create Inbev
  • AMC TheatresAmerican Multi-Cinema: the company pioneered multi-screen cinemas.
  • AMDAdvanced Micro Devices
  • AMOCOAMerican Oil COmpany – now part of BP
  • 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 favorite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard, and to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by other computer companies at the time – which had names such as IBM, DEC, Cincom and Tesseract
  • Apricot Computers – early UK-based microcomputer company founded by ACT (Applied Computer Techniques), a business software and services supplier. The company wanted a "fruity" name (Apple and Acorn were popular brands) that included the letters A, C and T. Apricot fit the bill.
  • 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 Ávila in northern Spain, location of the Arevalo abbey. Arevalo was shorted to Arevo.
  • Aricent – communications software company name created in 2006 by combining two words "arise" and "ascent".
  • ARM Limited – 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 Machines.
  • Arm & Hammer – based on the arm and hammer of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking. It was previously the logo of the Vulcan Spice Mills in Brooklyn. When James Church, the son of Church & Dwight founder Austin Church, came to Church and Dwight from Vulcan Spice Mills, he brought the logo with him.
  • ARP – company that made analog synthesizers in the 1970s, named after founder Alan Robert Pearlman.
  • Artis (zoo in Amsterdam) – from the Latin phrase, Natura Artis Magistra, or Nature is Art's Teacher
  • Asda – Asda Stores Limited was founded as Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Ltd in 1949. However the formation of the Asda name occurred in 1965 with the merger of the Asquith chain of three supermarkets and Associated Dairies; Asda is an abbreviation of Asquith and Dairies., a large UK supermarket chain now a subsidiary of Wal-Mart
  • 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 as good.
  • Ask.com – search engine formerly named after Jeeves, the gentleman's gentleman (valet, not butler) in P. G. Wodehouse's series of books. Ask Jeeves 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 – named 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 Japanese-sounding name.
  • ATIArray Technologies Incorporated
  • ATSAuto Technik Spezialerzeugnisse, a German company producing light alloy wheels and motor parts, which ran its own Formula 1 racing team in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
  • 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 is: "hark!".

B

  • B&Q – from the initials of its founders, Richard Block and David Quayle
  • 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.
  • Banesto – from Banco Español de Crédito (Spanish Credit Bank)
  • BASF – from Badische Anilin und Soda Fabriken. Anilin and Soda were the first products. Badisch refers to the location in the state of Baden, Germany (Black Forest region).
  • Bauknecht – founded as an electrotechnical workshop in 1919 by Gottlob Bauknecht, and now a Whirlpool brand.
  • Bayer – named after Friedrich Bayer, who founded the company in 1863.
  • BBCBritish Broadcasting Corporation, originally British Broadcasting Company.
  • BBVABanco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria.
  • BCC Research - BCC came from the company's former name Business Communications Company.
  • BEA Systems – from the first initial of each of the company's three founders: Bill Coleman, Ed Scott and Alfred Chuang.
  • Ben & Jerry's – named after Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who founded an ice cream parlor in 1978 after completing a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University. The company, Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings, Inc., was taken over by Unilever.
  • BenQBringing Enjoyment and Quality to life
  • BHPBroken Hill Proprietary, named after the town of Broken Hill, where BHP was founded (now BHP Billiton)
  • BIC Corporation – the pen company was named after one of its founders, Marcel Bich. He dropped the final 'h' to avoid a potentially inappropriate English pronunciation of the name.
  • Black & Decker – named after founders S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker.
  • 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 1938.
  • BMWBayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Factories).
  • Boeing – named after founder William E. Boeing. It was originally called Pacific Aero Products Co.
  • BSNL - from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (India Communications Corporation Limited).
  • 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.)
  • BRACBangladesh 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 (石橋) means "stone bridge", or "bridge of stone".
  • Brine, Corp. – sporting goods company named after founder, W.H. Brine. It was taken over by New Balance in 2006.
  • BT - formerly British Telecom (from BT Group, formerly British Telecommunications plc.)
  • BullCompagnie des machines Bull was founded in Paris to exploit the patents for punched card machines taken out by a Norwegian engineer, Fredrik Rosing Bull.
  • Burroughs Corporation - founded in 1886 as the American Arithmometer Company and later renamed after the adding machine invented by William Seward Burroughs. The company took over Sperry Corporation and became Unisys.
  • Bultaco – Spanish company of motorcycles, which disappeared in the 1980s. Its name is based on the name of its founder, Paco Bultó.

C

  • CAComputer Associates was founded in 1976 as Computer Associates International, Inc., by Charles Wang
  • C&A – named after the brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer, who founded a textile company called C&A in the Netherlands in 1841.
  • 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.
  • CAE – originally Canadian Aviation Electronics
  • Canon – Originally (1933) Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory the new name (1935) derived from the name of the company's first camera, the Kwanon, in turn named after the Japanese name of the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy.
  • Caprabo – Catalan supermarkets, founded by Carbó, Prats and Bonet.
  • Carrefour – chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets which started with a store near a crossroads (carrefour in French) in Annecy.
  • Caterpillar - Originally Holt Tractor Co, merged with Best Tractor Co. in 1925. A company photographer exclaimed aloud of a Holt tractor that the tracks' movement resembled a caterpillar moving along the ground. The name stuck.
  • Casio – from the name of its founder, Kashio Tadao, who had set up the company Kashio Seisakujo as a subcontractor factory.
  • CBSColumbia Broadcasting System
  • CGI Group – from the first letters of Information Management Consultant in French (Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique).
  • Chevrolet – named after company co-founder Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss-born auto racer. The company was merged into General Motors in 1917 and survives only as a brand name.
  • Chello – a Dutch internet service provider, its name was originally pronounced 'say hello' (in Dutch the letter C at the beginning of a word is pronounced as 'say'). This didn't catch on and now it is pronounced as (the string instrument) 'cello'.
  • Chrysler – named after the company founder, Walter P. Chrysler.
  • Ciba Geigy – CIBA, named from Chemical Industry Basel (after Basel in Switzerland), merged with a company named after its founder Johann Rudolf Geigy-Merian. It became Novartis (below) after a merger with Sandoz.
  • CiCi's Pizza – from the first letters of the last names of the founders of the franchise (Joe Croce and Mike Cole).
  • Cigna – CIGNA was formed in 1982 through the combination of Insurance Company of North America (INA) and Connecticut General (CG). The name is combination of the letters of the predecessor companies, CG and INA.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Coca-Cola – derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the 'K' of kola to 'C' to make the name look better.
  • 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 – from communications and broadcast.
  • Compaq – from computer and "pack" to denote a small integral object; or: Compatibility And Quality; or: from the company's first product, the very compact Compaq Portable.
  • COMSAT – a contraction of communications satellites. This American digital telecommunications and satellite company was founded during the era of U.S. President John F. Kennedy era to develop the technology.
  • ConocoPhillips – formed from the merger of Conoco (from Continental Oil Company) and the Phillips Petroleum Company.
  • CopersucarBrazilian production cooperative in sugar and alcohol, its name is a contraction of Cooperativa de Açucar e Álcool.
  • Corel – from Cowpland Research Laboratory, after the name of the company's founder, Dr. Michael Cowpland.
  • Cosworth – automotive engineering company named after company founders Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth.
  • CPFL – Companhia Paulista de Força e Luz (São Paulo Company of Light and Power), one of the largest in Brazil, based in Campinas.
  • Crabtree & Evelyn – toiletry company named after gardener John Evelyn, and the tree that bears Crabapples
  • Cray – supercomputer company named after its founder, Seymour Cray.
  • CRC Press – originally Chemical Rubber Company
  • Cromemco – early microcomputer company in Silicon Valley (circa 1975-198?) founded by two PhD students who once lived at Stanford University's Crothers Memorial Hall (a dormitory).
  • CutcoCooking Utensils Company.
  • CVSConvenience Value Service.

D

  • Daewoo – company founder Kim Woo Chong called it Daewoo which means "Great House" or "Great Universe" in Korean.
  • DAF Trucks – from 1932 the company's name was Van Doorne's Aanhangwagen Fabriek (Van Doorne's Trailer Factory). In 1949 the company started making trucks, trailers and buses and changed the name into Van Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek (Van Doorne's Automobile Factory).
  • Daihatsu – the first kanji from "Osaka" (大坂, the kanji is here pronounced dai) and "engine" (発動機, the first kanji is hatsu). Engine manufacturers were listed on the Tokyo and Osaka Stock Exchanges, and their names shortened to the first kanji. (The company listed on the Tokyo exchange is Tohatsu.)
  • Danone (Dannon in USA) – Isaac Carasso in Barcelona made his first yoghourts with the nickname of his first son Daniel (DAN-ONE)
  • Datsun – first called DAT, from the initials of its financiers Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi. Soon changed to DATSON to imply a smaller version of their original car, then (as SON can means "loss" in Japanese) again to DATSUN when they were acquired by Nissan.
  • Debian – project founder Ian Murdock named it after himself and his girlfriend, Debra.
  • DEC – Digital Equipment Corporation, a pioneering American minicomputer manufacturer founded by Ken Olsen and taken over by Compaq, before Compaq was merged into Hewlett-Packard (HP). It was generally called DEC ("deck"), but later tried to rebrand itself as Digital.
  • DEKA – named after its founder Dean Kamen, developer of the Segway, iBOT, HomeChoice Dialysis and other products.
  • Delhaize – named after its founders, Jules Delhaize and his brothers, who originated from Charleroi (Belgium). They opened the first European self-service "supermarket" in Elsene, near Brussels.
  • 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 founders Robert Denning and Vincent Fourcade in 1960.
  • DHL – named after its founders, Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn.
  • Digg, Inc.- Kevin Rose's friend David Prager (The Screen Savers, This Week in Tech) originally wanted to call the site "Diggnation", but Kevin wanted a simpler name. He chose the name "Digg", because users are able to "dig" stories, out of those submitted, up to the front page. The site was called "Digg" instead of "Dig" because the domain name "dig.com" was previously registered, by Walt Disney Internet Group. "Diggnation" would eventually be used as the title of Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht's weekly podcast discussing popular stories from Digg.
  • Digi-Key – electronic component distributor whose name is derived from founder Dr. Ronald Stordahl's amateur radio telegraphic keyer, the "IC Keyer Kit", which utilized digital integrated circuits.
  • Dixons – commonly-used abbreviation for DSG International plc (Dixons Stores Group), a UK-based retailer. The company was founded in 1937 by Charles Kalms and Michael Mindel. When opening their first photographic shop in Southend, they only had room for six letters on the fascia, and chose the name Dixons from the phone book.
  • DKNYDonna Karan New York.
  • Dow – named after its founder, Herbert Henry Dow.
  • Duane Reade – named after Duane and Reade Streets in lower Manhattan, where the first store was located.
  • Dynegy – the Natural Gas Clearinghouse changed its name in 1998 to reflect its self-described traits as a dynamic energy company. "Dynergy" had already been taken by a German health foods company.

E

  • 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, "It just sounded cool", Omidyar reportedly said. Echo Bay Mines Limited, a gold mining company, had already taken EchoBay.com, so Omidyar registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name: eBay.com.
  • EdumedEducation in Medicine, reflecting its first area of activity, distance education in medicine
  • EDSElectronic Data Systems, founded in 1962 by former IBM salesman Ross Perot. According to the company history: "He chose Electronic Data Systems from potential names he scribbled on a pledge envelope during a service at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas."
  • Eidos – named from a Greek word meaning "species". The company became well-known for its Tomb Raider series of games.
  • Eletropaulo – One of the largest Brazilian companies in electricity generation and distribution, its name derives from Companhia de Eletricidade de São Paulo.
  • EmbraerBrazilian aircraft manufacturer, its name is an abbreviation of Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Brazilian Aeronautics Company).
  • EMBRAPA – Brazilian state agricultural research and development company, its name is an abbreviation of Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Brazilian Agriculture Research Company).
  • EMBRATEL – an abbreviation of Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicações (Brazilian Telecommunications Company). Brazil's largest telecommunications company, it was a state monopoly until 1992 when it was privatized and sold to MCI, then later resold to Telmex.
  • EMC 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, E = mc².
  • EMI - formerly Electric and Musical Industries Ltd.
  • EmporisEmpor comes from the German and means "aloft, rising". One of the world's largest providers of data concerning buildings.
  • Equifax – Equitable and factual
  • ESPNEntertainment and Sports Programming Network
  • ESRIEnvironmental Systems Research Institute, the first geographic information system (GIS) software company founded by Jack and Laura Dangermond in Redlands, California, in 1969
  • 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 1970s to create a neutral but distinctive label for the company. Within days, Exxon was being called the "double cross company" but this eventually subsided. (Esso is a trademark of ExxonMobil.) Esso had to change its name in the USA because of restrictions dating to the 1911 Standard Oil antitrust decision.

F

  • FÁS – abbreviation for Foras Áiseanna Saothair.
  • Fair Isaac Corporation – named after founders Bill Fair and Earl Isaac.
  • Fazer – Finnish food company named after its founder, Karl Fazer.
  • FCUKFrench Connection United Kingdom.
  • FedEx – abbreviation of Federal Express Corporation, the company's original name.
  • Fegime – abbreviation for "Fédération Européenne des Grossistes Indépendants" (European Federation of Independent Electrical Wholesalers).
  • Ferrari – from the name of its founder, Enzo Ferrari.
  • Fiat – acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin)
  • Finnair – from "Finland" and "air". Originally called "Aero Osakeyhtiö", which led to its international flight code, "AY".
  • Firestone – named after its founder, Harvey Firestone.
  • Five Guys – American restaurant chain founded by "five guys" — Jerry Murrell and his four sons. The "five guys" would later become the Murrell sons, after Jerry and his wife Janie had a fifth son two years after opening their first restaurant.
  • Fluke – named after its founder, John Fluke, Sr.
  • Ford Motor Company – named after its founder, Henry Ford, who introduced automobile mass production in 1914.
  • Forrester Research - from the family name of the mother of the founder George Forrester Colony.
  • FranklinCovey – named after Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Covey. The company was formed from the 1997 merger of FranklinQuest and the Covey Leadership Center.
  • Fuji – named after Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.

G

  • Garmin – named after its founders, Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao.
  • Gartner – named after its founder, Gideon Gartner, who left the firm in 1992 to start Giga (named from Gideon Gartner).
  • GCap Media – named after the merger of the GWR Group and Capital Radio Group in May 2005.
  • Genentech – from Genetic Engineering Technology.
  • GEICO – from Government Employees Insurance Company
  • Glaxo – a dried milk company set up in Bunnythorpe, New Zealand, by Joseph Edward Nathan. The company wanted to use the name "Lacto" but it was similar to some already in use. Glaxo evolved and was registered on 27 October 1906. GlaxoSmithKline was a 2000 merger of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham
  • Glock GmbH – named after its founder, Gaston Glock.
  • Google – a deliberate misspelling of the word googol, reflecting the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available online.
  • Grey Global Group – an advertising and marketing agency supposed to have derived its name from the colour of the walls of its first office.
  • Grundig – named after its founder, radio dealer-turned-manufacturer Max Grundig, in 1945.
  • Gulfstream Aerospace – named after the Gulf Stream current that starts in the Gulf of Mexico and crosses the Atlantic. The company traces its origins to the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, which was sold and renamed in 1985.

H

  • Häagen-Dazs – Name was invented in 1961 by ice-cream makers Reuben and Rose Mattus of the Bronx "to convey an aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship". The name has no meaning.
  • Haier – Chinese 海 "sea" and 尔 (a transliteration character; also means "you" in Literary Chinese).
  • H&M – named from Hennes & Mauritz. In 1947, Swedish businessman Erling Persson established Hennes, a ladies' clothing store, in Västerås, Sweden. "Hennes" is Swedish for "hers". In 1968, Persson bought the Stockholm premises and inventory of a hunting equipment store called Mauritz Widforss. The inventory included a collection of men's clothing, which prompted Persson to expand into menswear.
  • Haribo – from the name of the founder and the German home town of the company: Hans Riegel, Bonn.
  • Harman Kardon – named after its founders Dr. Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon.
  • Harpo Productions – production company founded by Oprah Winfrey. Harpo is Oprah backwards.
  • Hasbro – founded by Henry and Helal Hassenfeld, the Hassenfeld Brothers.
  • HBOS – UK-based banking company formed by the merger of the Halifax and the Bank of Scotland.
  • HCL – Hindustan Computers Ltd, Indian software company founded by Shiv Nadar.
  • Hess Corporation – named after its founder Leon Hess.
  • HPBill 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"
  • HMV – from "His Master's Voice", which appeared in 1899 as the title of a painting of Nipper, a Jack Russell terrier, listening to a gramophone.
  • Hoechst – from the name of a district in Frankfurt.
  • Honda – from the name of its founder, Soichiro Honda.
  • 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. in 1963.
  • 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 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.)
  • H&R Block – after the founders, brothers Henry W. and Richard Bloch (with "Bloch" changed to "Block" to avoid mispronunciation).
  • HSBCHongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
  • Hyundai – connotes the sense of "the present age" or "modernity" in Korean.

I

  • IBM – named by Tom (Thomas John) Watson Sr, an ex-employee of National Cash Register (NCR Corporation). To one-up them in all respects, he called his company International Business Machines.
  • ICICI – Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India.
  • ICL – abbreviation for International Computers Limited, once the UK's largest computer company but now a service arm of Fujitsu, of Japan.
  • IG FarbenInteressen-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 World War II Holocaust, as it made the Zyklon B gas used in the gas chambers.
  • Iiyama – manufacturer of monitors and TVs named after the Japanese city, Iiyama.
  • IKEA – a composite of the first letters in the Swedish founder Ingvar Kamprad's name in addition to the first letters of the names of the property and the village in which he grew up: Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.
  • InBev – the name was created after the merger of the Belgian company Interbrew with Brazilian Ambev
  • Inditex – a Spanish group named from Industria de Diseño Textil (Textile Design Industry).
  • 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.
  • Ingenico – electronic payment device manufacturer based in Paris and named from the French Ingenieux Compagnie (Ingenious Company).
  • Intel – Robert 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". Later, Integrated Electronics was proposed but it had already been taken, so they used the initial syllables (INTegrated ELectronics). To avoid potential conflicts with other companies with similar names, Intel purchased the name rights for $15,000 from a company called Intelco. (Source: Intel 15 Years Corporate Anniversary Brochure)
  • Ittiam Systems – an Indian company named from the famous philosophical dictum: "I think therefore I am" (Cogito, ergo sum).
  • Infosys – An Indian software major. "Information Systems"

J

  • 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 abbreviation.
  • JBL – from James B Lansing, an electronics designer
  • Johnson & Johnson – Originally a partnership between brothers James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson in 1885, the addition of brother Robert Wood Johnson I led to formal incorporation as Johnson & Johnson in 1887.
  • JVCJapan Victor Company

K

  • Kawasaki – from the name of its founder, Shozo Kawasaki
  • KFC – short for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is popularly believed that the company adopted the abbreviated name in 1991 to avoid the unhealthy connotations of the word 'fried'. The rumor that it was because the Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked the name "Kentucky" is false. Recent commercials have tried to imply that the abbreviation stands for "Kitchen Fresh Chicken".
  • Kenwood Limited – named after Kenneth (Ken) Wood, who founded this kitchenware company as Woodlau Industries in the UK in 1947. It is not related to Kenwood Electronics, which started as Kasuga Radio Co in Japan in 1946 and became Trio Corporation in 1960.
  • Kenworth Truck Company – Kenworth Truck Company was formed in 1923 and is named after the two principal stockholders Harry Kent and Edgar Worthington.
  • Kia Motors – the name "Kia" (起亞) roughly translates as "Rising from Asia" in Hanja.
  • Kinko's – from the college nickname of founder, Paul Orfalea. He was called Kinko because he had curly red hair. The company was bought by FedEx for $2.4 billion in 2004.
  • Kodak – Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman. The letter "K" was a favorite 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 camera.
  • Komatsu – Japanese construction vehicle manufacturer named from the city of Komatsu, Ishikawa, where it was founded in 1917.
  • 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 – named from the surnames of the founders, Tsutomu Katoh and Tadashi Osanai, combined with the letters "rg" from the word organ.
  • KPMG - from the last names of the founders of the firms which combined to form the cooperative: Piet Klijnveld, William Barclay Peat, Roger Mitchell, and Reinhard Goerdeler.
  • Kroger – American supermarket chain named after its founder, Barney Kroger
  • KUKA – Company founded in 1898 in Augsburg, Germany as Keller Und Knappich Augsburg, short KUKA. Today a manufacturer of industrial robots and automation systems and registrated trademark for industrial robots.
  • Kyocera – from Kyoto Ceramics, after Kyoto in Japan.

L

  • Lada – from the name of a Slavic goddess, and used as a trading name by Russian automobile manufacturer AvtoVAZ (АВТОВАЗ in Russian). VAZ is derived from Volzhsky Automobilny Zavod.
  • Lancôme – began in 1935, when its founder, Armand Petitjean, was exploring the ruins of a castle, Le Chateau de Lancôme (Loir-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.
  • LCL – from Le Crédit Lyonnais. The name change occurred after the bank was involved in a major financial scandal where evidence disappeared in a mysterious fire.
  • 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.
  • Lenovo Group – a portmanteau of "Le-" (from former name Legend) and "novo", pseudo-Latin for "new". This Chinese company took over IBM's PC division.
  • Level 3 Communications – "Level 3" is a reference to the network layer of the OSI model.
  • LG – from the combination of two popular Korean brands, Lucky and Goldstar. (In Mexico, publicists explained the name change as an abbreviation to Linea Goldstar, Spanish for Goldstar Line)
  • Lionbridge – the word "localisation", which is the service this company offers, is often shortened to L10N. That is the first letter of the word and the last letter of the word, with 10 letters missing in between, hence L 10 N, which looks like lion. Bridge is the second part of the word as translation 'bridges' gap between people and markets that do not have a common language.
  • Lionhead Studios – games studio named after Mark Webley's pet hamster, which died a week before the company was founded. Webley worked for Bullfrog, and co-founded Lionhead with Peter Molyneux, Tim Rance and Steve Jackson in July 1997. Microsoft bought the company in April 2006.
  • Lockheed Martin – Aerospace manufacturer, a combination of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta, which is a combination of Glenn L. Martin Company and American-Marietta Corporation.
  • LoJack – "LoJack" (the stolen-vehicle recovery system) is a pun on the word "hijack" (to steal a vehicle).
  • 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.
  • LOT – LOT Polish Airlines. "Lot" in Polish means "flight".
  • Lotus SoftwareMitch Kapor named his company after 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. It was taken over by Alcatel to form Alcatel-Lucent in 2006.
  • Lycos – from Lycosidae, the family of wolf spiders.

M

  • Maggi – food company named after its founder, Julius Maggi. It was taken over by Nestlé in 1947 and survives as a brand name.
  • MAN – abbreviation for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg (Augsburg-Nuremberg Machine Company). The MAN company is a German engineering works and truck manufacturer.
  • Mandriva – new company formed from the merger of Mandrake Linux and Connectiva Linux
  • Manhattan Associates – named from Manhattan Beach, California, where the company was founded, before it moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
  • ManugisticsManufacturing + Logistics, a supplier of supply chain optimization software.
  • Mars – 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, Forrest 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
  • Mast-Jägermeister AG – Named for founder Wilhelm Mast and its main product, Jägermeister (German for "hunt master") liqueur.
  • Mattel – a portmanteau of the founders names Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler.
  • Mazda Motor Corporation – the company was founded as Toyo Kogyo, started manufacturing Mazda brand cars in 1931, and changed its name to Mazda in 1984. The cars were supposedly named after Ahura Mazda, the chief deity of the Zoroastrians, though many think this explanation was created after the fact, to cover up what is simply a poor anglicized version of the founders name, Jujiro Matsuda. This theory is supported by the fact that the company is referred to only as "Matsuda" in Japan.
  • 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 CommunicationsMicrowave 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 – from the first name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who distributed cars of the early Daimler company around 1900.
  • Merillat Industries – named after Orville D. Merillat, who founded the company in 1946.
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) – Film studio formed from the merger of three other companies: 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 Edgar and Archibald Selwyn.
  • MFI – from Mullard Furniture Industries. The original company was named after the founder's wife, whose maiden name was Mullard.
  • MG Cars – from Morris Garages after co-founder William Morris. Under Chinese ownership, the company says: "We want Chinese consumers to know this brand as 'Modern Gentleman'."
  • Microlins – from Microcomputers and Lins, a Brazilian city where the company was founded by José Carlos Semenzato
  • Micron Technology – computer memory producer named after the microscopic parts of its products. It is now better known by its consumer brand name: Crucial.
  • Microsoft – coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to microcomputer software. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' disappeared on 3/2/1987 with the introduction of a new corporate identity and logo. The "slash between the 'o' and 's' [in the Microsoft logo] emphasizes the "soft" part of the name and conveys motion and speed."
  • Midway Games – derived from the name of an airport on the southwestern part of Chicago.
  • Mincom Limited – Mincom was founded in Brisbane, Australia in 1979. Currently the largest software company in Australia and the fourth oldest ERP company globally. The company initially created software to specifically assist mining companies and the name Mining com'''puting.
  • 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 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 acronym but just a name. (The name also connotes computer speed, by association with the acronym for millions of instructions per second.)
  • Mitel – from Mike and Terry's Lawnmowers, after the founders Michael Cowpland (see also: Corel) and Terry Matthews, and the company's original business plan.
  • MITREMassachusetts Institute of Technology Research Establishment (however The MITRE Corporation asserts that its name is not an acronym)
  • Mitsubishi – the name Mitsubishi (三菱) has two parts: mitsu means three and hishi (changing to bishi in the middle of the word) means diamond (the shape). Hence, the three diamond logo. (Note that "diamond" in this context refers only to the rhombus shape, not to the precious gem.)
  • Morningstar, Inc. – The name Morningstar is taken from the last sentence in Walden, a book by Henry David Thoreau; "the sun is but a morning star"
  • Motorola – Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company (at the time, Galvin Manufacturing Company) started manufacturing radios for 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". It became so widely recognized that the company later adopted it as the company name.
  • Mozilla Foundation – from the name of the web browser that preceded Netscape Navigator. When Marc Andreesen, co-founder of Netscape, created a browser to replace the Mosaic browser, it was internally named Mozilla (Mosaic-Killer, Godzilla) by Jamie Zawinski.
  • MVC – from Music and Video Club, the name of a UK-based entertainment chain.
  • Mustek – Taiwanese electronics manufacturer with name derived from Most Unique Scanner Technology.
  • 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.

N

  • Nabisco – formerly The National Biscuit Company, changed in 1971 to Nabisco.
  • NCR Corporation – from National Cash Register.
  • NEC – from Nippon Electric Company.
  • NeroNero Burning ROM named after Nero burning Rome ("Rom" is the German spelling of "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.
  • 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.
  • Nike – named for the Greek goddess of victory.
  • Nikon – the original name was Nippon Kogaku, meaning "Japanese Optical".
  • Nintendo – Nintendo is the transliteration of the company's Japanese name, nintendou (任天堂). The first two (nin-ten) can be translated to "entrusted to heaven"; dou is a common ending meaning "hall" or "store".
  • Nissan – the company was earlier known by the name Nippon Sangyo which means "Japan Industries".
  • 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 Networks – named 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

  • OCZ - play on the word Overclockers.
  • 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. Later they changed the name of the company, Relational Software Inc., to the name of the product.
  • Ornge – new name (2006) for Ontario Air Ambulance, chosen to reflect the orange color of its aircraft. It was intended to provide a unique branding but the ornge.com misspelling was already used by an advertising portal.
  • Osram – from osmium and wolfram.

P

  • Paccar – from Pacific Car and Rail.
  • PCCW – originally Pacific Century Development, the company's English name was changed from Pacific Century CyberWorks Limited to PCCW Limited on August 9, 2002. It owns Hong Kong Telecom.
  • 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.
  • Pemex – state-owned Mexican oil/gasoline company named from Petróleos Mexicanos.
  • Pennzoil – formed by a merger of South Penn Oil (Penn), a former Standard Oil subsidiary, and Zapata Oil (zoil).
  • Pepsi – named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.
  • PetrobrasBrazilian oil company named from Petróleo and Brasil.
  • Philco – from the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company. The pioneering US radio and TV manufacturer was taken over by Ford and later by Philips.
  • Philips – Royal Philips Electronics was founded in 1891 by brothers Gerard (the engineer) and Anton (the entrepreneur) Philips.
  • Pixar – from pixel and the co-founder's name, Alvy Ray Smith. According to the biography "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alan Deutschman, the 'el' in pixel was changed to 'ar' because 'ar' is frequently used in Spanish verbs, implying the name means "To Pix".
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Prada - an Italian high fashion house named after the founder Mario Prada, who founded Prada in Milan 1914.
  • ProfSat – Brazilian satellite-based education company, meaning Professional Sateliite.
  • PRS Guitars – named after its founder, Paul Reed Smith.
  • Psion – UK computer company named by its founder, South Africa-born Dr David Potter, from Potter Scientific Instruments Or Nothing.

Q

  • 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 Petroleum International Limited.
  • Qantas – from its original name, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.
  • Qimonda – Qimonda carries different meanings and allows associations in different languages. "Qi" stands for flowing or breathing energy, while the combination of the English word "key" and the Latin "mundus" is intuitively understood in the Western World as "key to the world".
  • Quad – an acronym for Quality Unit Amplified Domestic. Quad Electroacoustics was founded in 1936 by Peter Walker, and was formerly called the Acoustical Manufacturing Company.
  • Quark – named after an atomic particle. The word quark originates from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
  • QualcommQuality Communication
  • QVCQuality, Value and Convenience

R

  • RabobankRaiffeisen-Boerenleenbank, a combination of the two cooperatives that merged to form the company.
  • RANDResearch ANd Development.
  • Raytheon – "Light of the gods". Maker of missiles such as Patriot, Maverick, Sidewinder and Tomahawk, among other military technology.
  • RCARadio Corporation of America.
  • Red Hat – while at college, company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell 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. By the time he wrote the manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux he had lost the cap, so the manual included an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found.
  • Reebok – alternate spelling of rhebok (Pelea capreolus), an African antelope.
  • REO Motor Car Company – car manufacturer founded in 1904 by Ransom E. Olds, and named from its founder's initials. Later, the rock band REO Speedwagon took its name from one of its trucks, the REO Speed Wagon.
  • Repsol – name derived from Refinería de Petróleo 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 – from the phrase "poetry in motion", which company founder Mike Lazaridis had seen used to describe a football player.
  • Rickenbacker – named after co-founder Adolph Rickenbacher, with the spelling anglicised. The company started as the Electro String Instrument Corporation in 1931.
  • Robeez – baby-shoe company named after the founder's son Robbie (Robert). Robeez was taken over by Stride Rite in 2006.
  • Rolls-Royce – name used by Rolls-Royce plc and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, among others. In 1884 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 that year. The pair entered into a partnership in which Royce would manufacture cars to be sold exclusively by Rolls, and the cars would be called Rolls-Royce.
  • RSA Security – formed from the first letters of the family names of its founders Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adleman.

S

  • SAAB – founded in 1937 in Sweden as Svenska Aeroplan aktiebolaget (Swedish Aeroplane Company); the last word is typically abbreviated as AB, hence SAAB.
  • SabreSemi-Automatic Business Research Environment.
  • Samsonite – named from the Biblical character Samson, renowned for his strength.
  • Samsung – meaning three stars in Korean.
  • Sanyo – meaning three oceans in Japanese.
  • SAPSystemAnalyse und Programmentwicklung (German for "System analysis and program development"), a company formed by five ex-IBM employees who used to work in the 'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM. Later, SAP was redefined to stand for Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung (Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing).
  • SASScandinavian Airlines System, the flag airline carrier of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
  • SAS Institute – originally an abbreviation for Statistical Analysis System.
  • SasolSuid-Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie (Afrikaans for South African Coal and Oil).
  • SCB – from Standard Chartered Bank. The name Standard Chartered comes from the two original banks from which it was founded – The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, and The Standard Bank of British South Africa.
  • SCO – from Santa Cruz Operation. The company's office was in Santa Cruz, California. It eventually formed Tarantella, Inc. and sold off its operating system division to Caldera Systems (a spin off from Novell), which is based in Utah. Caldera changed its name to The SCO Group (at which point SCO no longer stood for anything).
  • Saudi Aramco – the Aramco name was derived in 1944 when California Arabian Standard Oil Company (Casoc) changed its name to Arabian American Oil Company. The Saudi government purchased the company in 1980, and changed its name to Saudi Arabian Oil Company or Saudi Aramco in 1988.
  • SEAT – an acronym from Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo (Spanish Corporation of Touring Cars).
  • Sealed Air – from the "sealed air" found in its most notable product, Bubble Wrap.
  • SegaService Games of Japan was founded by Marty Bromley (an American) to import pinball games to Japan for use on American military bases.
  • Seiko – Seiko, now referred to in katakana as セイコー("seiko"), was originally named in kanji as 精工(also "seiko"). The two characters were taken from the phrase 「巧で密な時計の生産に成功する場」, the company's vision which roughly translates to "a factory(工場:kojyo)that successfully(成功:seiko)produces(生産:seisan)exquisit(精巧:seiko)and precise(精密:seimitsu)watches". – 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" or "minute" (both spelled 精巧), as well as a word for "success" (spelled 成功).
  • Sennheiser - named after one of its founders, Fritz Sennheiser.
  • setcomsoftware engineering and testing for communications, an international group of companies active in the field of wireless test solutions.
  • SGISilicon 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.
  • 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 Volvo.
  • Škoda Auto – the car company was founded in 1895 and originally named Laurin & Klement after its founders, Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement. It was taken over by Škoda Works, an industrial conglomerate, in 1924, and adopted the Škoda name from Emil Škoda. Škoda Auto was split off after World War II and is now part of Volkswagen.
  • Skype – the original concept for the name was Sky-Peer-to-Peer, which morphed into Skyper, then Skype.
  • SmartSwatch + Mercedes + Art
  • Smilebit – former Sega development studio named from what they hope to make you do (smile), and the smallest unit of computer information (bit). The company developed Jet Set Radio.
  • Smeg – acronym based on the Italian towns where the original enamelling factory was located in Guastalla, Italy.
  • SNKShin Nihon Kikaku, Japanese for Plans for a New Japan.
  • 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. The company was founded as Tokyo Tsoshiu Kogyo KK (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) in 1946, and changed its name to Sony in 1958. Sony was chosen as it could be pronounced easily in many languages.
  • Sorcim – "Micros" backwards. Sorcim was the original publisher of the SuperCalc spreadsheet in 1980. It was taken over by Computer Associates.
  • SPAR – originally DE SPAR, from Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig (Dutch, meaning "All will benefit from united co-operation"). "De spar" in Dutch translates as "the fir tree", hence the fir tree logo. As the company expanded across Europe, the name was shortened by dropping the article, "DE".
  • Sperry – company founded by Elmer Ambrose Sperry (1860–1930), originally as Sperry Gyroscope Company. Sperry took over Univac, and eventually was itself taken over by Burroughs. The merged companies became Unisys, from United Information Systems.
  • Sprint – from its parent company, Southern Pacific Railroad INTernal Communications. At the time, pipelines and railroad tracks were the cheapest place to lay communications lines, as the right-of-way was already leased or owned.
  • Stanley Works – name created to reflect the merger of Stanley's Bolt Manufactory of New Britain, Connecticut (founded by Frederick Trent Stanley) and the Stanley Rule and Level Company (founded by his cousin Henry Stanley).
  • Starbucks – named after Starbuck, a character in Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick
  • Stellent – coined from a combination of the words stellar and excellent.
  • STX – pronounced as the word "sticks" because, when first founded, STX manufactured only lacrosse sticks
  • Subaru – from the Japanese name for the constellation known to Westerners as 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, Michio Suzuki.

T

  • Taco Bell – named after founder Glen Bell.
  • Talgo – from "Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea-Oriol" (Spanish for "Goicoechea-Oriol Light Articulated Train"), Goicoechea and Oriol being the founders of the company.
  • TAM Airlines – Brazilian airline company named from Transportes Aéreos Marília (Marilia's Air Transport). Marília is a city in São Paulo state, Brazil.
  • TAP Portugal – from "Transportes Aéreos Portugueses" (Portuguese Air Transport).
  • Tata Group – conglomerate named after Jamsetji Tata, considered "the father of Indian industry".
  • 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.
  • TCL – from Today China Lion. Derived from literal translation of "今日中国雄狮" from Chinese to English.
  • TCS – from Tata Consultancy Services, from India's Tata Group, named after founder and legendary industrialist Jamsetji Tata.
  • TDK Corporation – from Tokyo Denki Kagaku (Tokyo Electronics and Chemicals).
  • Tesco – founder Jack Cohen – who sold groceries in the markets of the London East End from 1919 – acquired a large shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell. He made new labels by using the first three letters of the supplier's name and the first two letters of his surname.
  • Texaco – from The Texas Company U.S.A.
  • THX – from Tomlinson Holman Crossover, the name of the technology's inventor and the audio technology of a crossover amplifier. It may be a backronym, as the technology is owned by George Lucas's company, and he directed THX 1138.
  • TIBCO SoftwareThe Information Bus Company. The company was founded by Vivek Ranadive as Teknekron Software Systems in 1985.
  • Toshiba – named from the merger of consumer goods company Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Co) and electrical firm Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works).
  • Toyota – from the name of the founder, 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.
  • Triang – operating name for Lines Bros Ltd, which was founded by William, Walter and Arthur Edwin Lines. Three Lines make a triangle
  • Tucows – an acronym for The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software.
  • TVR – derived from the first name of the company founder TreVoR Wilkinson

U

  • Umbro – Umbro was founded in 1924 by the Humphrey ('Umphrey) Brothers, Harold C. and Wallace.
  • Unilever – name created to reflect the merger of Margarine Unie and Lever Brothers, agreed in 1929. Lever Brothers was named from its founders, William Hesketh Lever and his brother, James.
  • UNIMED – Brazilian cooperative of physicians, meaning União de Medicos (Physicians' Union)
  • 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 Corporation – the Union Oil Company of California, founded in 1890
  • UUNET – one of the industry's oldest and largest Internet Service Providers, named from UNIX-to-UNIX Network.

V

  • Varig – Largest international Brazilian airline, its name is an abbreviation of Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense, 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 started a magazine called Student while still at school. In his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, Branson says that when they were starting a business to sell records by mail order, "one of the girls suggested: 'What about Virgin? We're complete virgins at business.'"
  • Vodafone – from Voice, Data, Telefone. Vodafone made the UK's first mobile call at a few minutes past midnight on 1 January 1985.
  • Volkswagen – from the German for people's car. Ferdinand Porsche wanted 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) later became known, in English, as the Beetle.
  • Volvo – from the Latin word volvo, which means "I roll". It was originally a name for a ball bearing being developed by SKF.

W

  • Wachovia – 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 Laboratories – from the name of the founder, An Wang, the inventor of core memory.
  • Wendy's – Wendy was the nickname of founder Dave Thomas' daughter Melinda.
  • Weta Digital – special effects company co-founded by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. 'Weta' are a group of about 70 species of insect found in New Zealand, where Weta Digital is based.
  • W H Smith – 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 Sonoma, California.
  • Wipro – from Western India Vegetable Products Limited. The company started as a modest Vanaspati and laundry soap producer and is now also an IT services giant.
  • WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It changed its name after a court case brought by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which is now called the World Wide Fund for Nature.
  • Worlds of Wonder – founder Don Kingsborough wanted an eyecatching stock symbol, and Worlds Of Wonder provided WOW. The company went bankrupt in 1988.

X

  • Xerox – named from xerography, a word derived from the Greek xeros (dry) and graphos (writing). The company was founded as The Haloid Company in 1906, launched its first XeroX copier in 1949, and changed its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958.

Y

  • Yahoo! – 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 and barely human. Yahoo! founders David Filo and Jerry Yang jokingly considered themselves yahoos. It's also an interjection sometimes associated with United States Southerners' and Westerners' expression of joy, as alluded to in Yahoo.com commercials that end with someone singing the word "yahoo". It is also sometime jokingly referred to by its backronym, Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.
  • Yoplait – from the merger of Yola and Coplait in 1965.

Z

  • Zend Technologies – a contraction derived from the names of Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans, the two founders.
  • 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")..

References

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