My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the centuries-old roots—as in Middle English and even Old English—of thirteen modern brand names. Access to this month’s column is free to all (but you should subscribe anyway!); here’s an excerpt:
Hobby Lobby. Founded in 1970 in Oklahoma City, where it still has its headquarters, the craft-supply chain made headlines earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., that the company did not have to pay for insurance coverage for female contraception under the Affordable Care Act. Both hobby and lobby have long histories in the English language: In the late 13th century, a hobyn was a small horse or pony (a sense maintained in “hobby-horse”); by the late 1600s the word had come to mean “favorite pastime or avocation.” Lobby was adopted in the 1530s from medieval Latin, where laubia meant “a covered walk in a monastery.” By the end of the 16th century it referred to “a large entrance hall in a public building”; the political sense—“a group seeking to influence legislation”—arose in the 1790s in the new United States of America.
Other names on my list include Apple, Gap, Kindle, and Inkling.
Read the rest of the column, and let me know in a comment of other old English words that have been turned into successful contemporary brands.