What’s in a name?

A list of companies and places with interesting name origins.


  • Adidas is a portmanteau of its founder’s name, Adi Dassler.
  • Akamai is a Hawaiian word meaning “intelligent” or “clever.”
  • Coca Cola’s name refers to it’s original ingredients, kola nuts (a source of caffeine) and coca leaves.
  • LEGO’s name is derived from the Danish phrase, “leg godt,” which means “play well.”
  • Mozilla is a portmanteau of “Mosaic” and “killer” (Mosaic referring to the Mosaic web browser).
  • Mt. Gox the now-defunct BitCoin exchange, was named as such because its founder had reused the domain name mtgox.com. He’d originally purchased this domain to build a website for Magic: The Gathering cards. This name is an abbreviation for “Magic: The Gathering Online eXchange.”
  • Pepsi was originally introduced in 1893 as “Brad’s Drink.” It was later renamed Pepsi Cola in 1898 after the Greek root word, “pepsin,” which refers to digestion.
  • Venmo is a portmanteau of “vendor” and “mobile.”
  • Vevo is a portmanteau of “video” and “evolution.”
  • Verizon is a portmanteau of “veritas” (Latin for “truth”) and “horizon.”
  • Volkswagen is German for, “people’s car.”


  • Armageddon is an actual place, about an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, Israel. The word comes from the Hebrew “Har Megiddo,” meaning “Mount of Megiddo”.
  • Las Vegas means “the meadows” in Spanish.
  • Los Angeles means “the angels” in Spanish.


  • Nagios is a recursive acronym for “Nagios Ain’t Gonna Insist On Sainthood.”
  • Hamcrest is a Java testing library the name of which is an anagram of “matchers.”