Famous Website Names, Where Did They Actually Come From?

Prashant Agarwal27 June 2020 8:20PM IST
4 min read795

In today's world, companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, eBay and others play a vital role in our day to day life. Some of them, such as Google, have become synonyms to our actions. I am sure you must have heard 'Just Google It!' or 'Get it Xerox-ed'. When we say something like this we almost forget these are companies we are talking about, Google and Xerox.

From where did these names come? What do they actually mean? Lets dive into it and find some interesting facts about them!


This company that changed the internet game. But Google its original name? No. According to Google corporate history, Stanford students Larry Page and Sergei Brin created this search engine and called it "BackRub".Their first logo was Larry Page's hand. The name Google is a tweak on the mathematical term googol, which means "one followed by 100 zeros". This sounds good, but there is an accident associated to it.

The story goes like, Larry Page was in his Stanford office with some other graduate students. Sean Anderson, one of the students, suggested "Googolplex". Page liked the name but shortened it to, "Googol". Anderson did a domain name search, but spelt it "Google". The domain was available. Page snagged it, and that how Google came to life.


Like Google, this web portal was created in January 1994 by a pair of Stanford graduate students, Jerry Yang and David Filo. The original name given to it was "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web". In less than a few months, they changed the name to Yahoo.

Supposedly, the creators liked the word Yahoo as coined by Jonathan Swift in 1926 for Gulliver's Travels. The word means an "uncultivated person". They also came up with an acronym which goes like "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle".


This website changed the way people buy and sell products online. eBay's name is merely a shortened version of the founder's first choice. When Pierre Omidyar launched the site, it was owned by his consulting firm, Echo Bay Technology Group.

But, when he tried to get the domain name, it was already taken by Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company. And thus, he just shortened it to his second choice, eBay.


"The definitive Steve Jobs Biography" by Walter Isaacson has the answer to this one. According to the Biography, Jobs named the company "Apple" when he was on "one of his fruitarian diets".

After visiting an apple farm, Jobs thought to himself that the name sounded fun, spirited and not intimidating.

Whether you find apples intimidating or not, is just a matter of personal choice, but either way, the Steve Jobs "Apple" isn't going anywhere from our lives.

Bonus fact: McIntosh itself is a breed of apple and its a national apple of Canada.


The e-retailer was all set to be called "Cadabra" chosen out of "Abracadabra". Mashable says "Bezos went with 'Amazon' after his lawyer thought he said 'Cadaver' which would easily have gone down as the worst start-up name ever."

Supposedly, the name "Amazon" was selected since it signifies large size. Also, back then, website listings were often A-Z, and thus "Amazon" would be towards the top of the list.

Bezos also considered calling it 'Relentless' but friends thought that was 'sinister'.

Bonus fact: Bezos bought the domain Relentless.com anyway, and it still redirects to Amazon and the smile in their logo refers to the fact they sell everything from A to Z.


When the makers of this popular video chat application were trying to pull up a name for it, they came up with "Sky peer to peer", which was shortened to "Skyper". They looked for the domain, and to no surprise, the domain was already taken.

Do you see a pattern? If you have an idea for a new product, grab the domain far before you are ready with the product! So "Skype" it was they sticked to.


When Microsoft was in the process of launching their search engine, they thought of calling it "Bang". But that one wouldn't have played well around the competitors. Like how would that go, "Is she a good writer?" "I don't know. Bang her and find out!". Oops.

After much thinking, they called it "Bing", besides, it sounds a little bit like "Bingo".