One of my favorite bloggers, the linguist known as The Name Inspector, has posted a list of search engine names organized by linguistic category. His taxonomy is a bit fluid; under "Real Words," for example, he includes some words whose "reality" is open to debate, like Boing (not in most dictionaries; most likely an onomatopoeic coinage) and Grokker (from "grok," to understand intuitively, coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land). The Name Inspector's "Foreign Words" include an old English word, Soople, "to soften or make supple," according to the site's About page (old English is foreign?), but I'm guessing the idea of "soup," and maybe "people," had something to do with the coinage, and the "supple" thing was a back-definition. See, for example, a competitor site, Yoople, which defines itself as "Yahoo! + Google Made by the People"--and I don't doubt that "you," The Person of Last Year, plays into it as well. Not that any of this is bad; the more meaning you can pack into a short company name, the better.
One more note: The Name Inspector doesn't include my own favorite search engine, Blingo, a blend of "bling" and "bingo"--and probably Google, too, since that's what powers it. Blingo turns search into a game; every time you submit a search you're eligible for a prize. (This is by no means an endorsement, but I've won a couple of movie tickets this way. Yes, you have to surrender personal data to be eligible. As Scott McNealy famously said eight years ago, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.")
But enough nitpicking. The lists are fascinating for their creativity and diversity--who knew there were so many search engines out there?--and The Name Inspector is to be congratulated for doing a Linnaeus on them. Some of the new-to-me names I found ingenious and appealing:
- UJIKO (coined from adjacent keyboard letters)
- YubNub ("hooray" in Ewok; that's really advanced geekery)
- Quintura (quintessence + neural; yields very nifty and useful tag-cloud results)
- Hakia (the Finnish word for "search"; the site itself is in English)*
- AllTh.at (that's .at as in the Austria country code. I have a post in the works about creative uses of country codes; stay tuned.)
*Update: According to a comment from the company's chief operating officer on this post, Hakia isn't Finnish for anything; it's a pure coinage.