You Won’t Believe How These Famous Companies Got Their Names

A great story is marked by its ability to inspire, which is why so many different companies have found inspiration in classic literature. When you think of companies like Twitter or Starbucks, you likely imagine modern technology or coffee, but interestingly enough the names of those companies originally referenced something very, very different. Here are just a few of the world’s leading companies that have taken their names from classic literature.

Moby Dick

Did you know that everyone’s favorite coffee franchise was named after a character in Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick? Starbucks’s original founders—who were teachers and writers—chose to name their new coffee bean business after one of the most obscure characters from Melville’s epic tome. And, as a bonus fact, when the first Starbucks opened in 1971 in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, it didn’t even sell coffee drinks. At the time, Starbucks was only selling coffee beans.

Also available in audio.

Gulliver’s Travels

Yahoo!, one of the world’s top search engines, was created by David Filo and Jerry Yang to help keep track of the websites that they were interested in during the early days of the Internet. They named it Yahoo! after the uncivilized creatures from Jonathan Swift’s popular collection of stories known as Gulliver’s Travels. The word “Yahoo” stands for 'Yet Another Hierarchical Official Oracle,' though both Filo and Yang admit that they chose the name because they consider themselves to be “Yahoos.”

Also available in audio.

Tom Swift, Young Inventor

Science fiction writer Victor Appleton is best known for writing a series of novels based on the character Tom Swift. As a young inventor, Tom Swift went on many fantastic adventures with the help of his amazing inventions. On such creation was a gun that shot lightning, affectionately called Tom Swift’s Electric Rifle, or “TASER” for short. If that sounds familiar to you, then you’re probably thinking about everyone’s favorite stun gun, the Taser, which takes its name directly from Appleton’s classic.

Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

The word “Twitter” is literally defined as “a short burst of inconsequential information.” When Jack Dorsey founded Twitter, he wanted to give it a name that evoked imagery of constant information. To find the right word, he simply opened the dictionary and started to search. Interestingly enough, the word “twitter” was originally coined by Geoffrey Chaucer.

The Odyssey of Homer

Modern day computing company Oracle specializes in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems, and enterprise software products. That might sound like a bunch of nonsense, but Oracle is second only to Microsoft as a world leading software generator. For a company so large and affecting, it’s no surprise that they take their name from one of the many characters in Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad. The Oracle, in literature, is a figure that can see glimpses of the future. For a company that specializes in future-facing technologies, it’s quite a clever name.

Also available in audio.


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