Earconic: Descriptive of a sound with cultural significance. A play on "iconic" (or "eye-conic") coined by former Apple sound engineer Jim Reekes, who created all of Apple's audio software between 1990 and 1999.
In this interview with One More Thing, a Dutch-language website for the Benelux Apple community, Reekes explains how he created the most earconic Apple sound of all, the startup chord: "a big fat C-major chord with a lot of thick, rich sonic textures behind it." The brief introduction is in Dutch; the interview is in English. Listen for "earcon" and "earconic" at around 5:37.
During the development of Apple's System 7, Reekes also created a very brief "chime" sound, which he named Chime. The sound and its name had to pass review by the company's trademark lawyers, who were fighting lawsuits by Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles' multimedia corporation. "They [Apple's lawyers] got really paranoid about anything that hinted at something being musical," Reekes says. "Chime" was deemed "too musical" a name.
And I was like, I gotta come up with a new name for this. Just off the top of my head I said, I'm gonna call it "Let It Beep." Because it seemed to summarize [chuckling] everything. ... But if they're gonna sue me over the word "Chime," there's no way they're gonna let me use that name. ... I was kidding. But as they're arguing that I actually can't use the name "Let It Beep," I said—just off the top of my head again—"So sue me!" And then as soon as I said it I said, Holy shit, that's the name. I just have to spell it funny so that nobody realizes what I'm doing. I was like, it kind of sounds like a Japanese word. Let's spell it like it's a Japanese word. Then it'll get past the lawyers.
Reekes told one of the lawyers to write an email using this "Japanese" word, which he said had no musical meaning. The lawyers either didn't get the joke or didn't care. The sound is now officially called Sosumi.
Semi-related: Read my 2007 post on the overuse of "iconic."