Did you wait for hours to be one of the first to own the iPhone 4? If you think people who stand in line for new devices are silly, fill in the blank: “I can’t live without my ——————” You may not be a super early adopter, but your gadget/gizmo/doohickey/thingamajig/mobile device of choice is probably more essential to your day-to-day existence than you care to admit.
That little machine that feeds you emails, videos, Facebook updates and even some useful information now and then has a name. The author Philip K. Dick once said, “If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” Names, and words in general, have a meaningful history that influences their use, whether you know it or not. Let’s briefly look at the story of some of these ubiquitous names.
First off, a nugget about how the iPod got its name. According to Wired magazine and multiple sources, Vinnie Chieco, a copywriter, was shown the prototype iPod and immediately thought of the film “2001,” with its white shuttle pods and, of course, the rectangular monoliths.
The origin of pod is uncertain. Though the word has many meanings, the sense of “a cover for seeded plants” derives from podware, “seed of legumes, seed grain,” related to codware, “husked or seeded plants.” It’s funny how quickly the iPad has outgrown any sense of seed or supplement to a greater whole, now existing as a nearly stand-alone device.
The “i” in various Apple products originated with an advertising veteran named Ken Segall, who also created Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. According to an interview on the blog Cult of Mac, Segall intended the “i” to suggest not just “Internet” but a host of other i-words: “It also meant individual, imaginative and all the other things it came to stand for.”
A pad is originally “a bundle of straw to lie on” and starts to refer to “something you can write on” around 1865. The connection between the two may be the additional sense of “an ink-soaked cushion used to ink a rubber stamp,” but that’s just speculation.
Droid provides a glimpse into just how old technological language really is. Droid is George Lucas’ shortening of android in the “Star Wars” films. But android (andro- is Greek for “human”. -eides is “form of.”) dates back to 1727 and proto-science fiction novels.
A nook, “a small corner, alcove, or recess, especially one in a large room,” has an uncertain origin. A possible etymological connection to the Norwegian nokke, “hook, bent figure,” may be a painful irony for all those folks stooped over their e-readers.
Kindle shares a number of qualities with nook: its etymology is uncertain, and some of its definitions are a little odd in the context of a quiet little reading machine. To kindle is “light a fire,” or “to become aroused or inflamed.” May your digital device never, ever cause you to become inflamed.
mlv: @dictionarycom A nook is also a Dr. Seuss character. And, ironically, “But a nook can’t read, so a nook can’t cook…”
By hook or by crook, if that sooky chook looked, the cop shop won’t stop to bop that flop of a sooky chook crook.
Is that the kind of thing you are thinking of??
“Liked” for use of the Philip K. Dick quote.
ummmm i dont think ppl need the fone and really its like 2 or 3 hundred dollars are economy sucks sooo i think ppl should jus chill and i buy when they get some cash flowing annd ummm yeah they act like OMG im gonna die wit out the “iphone4″ its a phone not a kidney or another organ like really calm heck down
its gonna go outta style in a couple months anyway sooo thesesppl relize they might be opular or watever fer a month or 2 and then sumtin new is gonna come out and yeah then this rage is gonna be over then theres ur 300 dollars down the bring ddrain of money! yipppeee fer america
Speaking of strange word usage for technological stuff:
Evite: antonym of invite
why dont people give this wasted money to other places or people who need the money, and if they dont want it, i’ll have it.
there are plenty of things i could waste it on!
I am once again pleased that dictionary.com exists. If Baby Gurl’s comments are any indication, there are people in great need of this resource.
I own a Kindle, and the name makes perfect sense to me. If you’re an avid reader, lots of mental fires are lit as you read. Your interests, your mind is literally set ablaze with new ideas, new words, new philosophies that you had never thought of before. That I think, is the reason for calling Amazon’s ereader, a Kindle!
I heard that Google actually has to pay George Lucas for every usage of the word “Droid”. It’s unbelievable that someone could trademark a truncated word!
I own a Nook and I believe the namesake could be connected to a quiet place to go and lose yourself in a great read! Great article, I always LOVE learning about the origins of names, words, and meanings.
Loved this article. I was just educated on all the ubiquitous words flying over my head. I can finally put a meaning to them all and it is great to finally understand what all of it means and comes from. Thank you!
Baby Gurl, your grammar is HORRIFIC along with the fact you are a HATER. Because you can not afford an iphone doesn’t give you the right to bash it.
Haha “Amazed at Society”. That is a very valid comment. She might have been “txt typin”. Like… for sure or maybe…she B straigHT trippin Beu… all I be sayin is dat dem foooools who be in line for an Ifone (really… fone?)is straight ridonkulous! Pitcha tent or fly a kite or something… cuz you fools need to do something else… other that wait for a “fone”… you heard?@!
@Amazed at Society…………THANK YOU for your comments. Babygurl punctuation, spelling and grammar are your friends! Embrace them.
Laughing at Crooner!!!
Don’t forget that the iPhone was originally Cisco’s trademark, and Apple didn’t get permission to use it before they launched:
The term “droid” was used well before Star Wars in another SciFi movie, “Silent Running”. It was used to describe the three utility robots: Hewey, Dewey & Louie that were caretakers of eco-pods in space.
Blatant commercial plugs for stuff that we don’t need. Its the covert new way to advertise in the info-age. Worrying about grammar on an ephemeral little *B*log (a seminal origin of the “txt language” being the web itself) is preposterous, and just pedantic. What’s really alarming is people saying they’re mind is “literally ablazed”. Grammar is trivial when you can’t articulate a cogent point. Aside from all this pseudo-intellectualism, what’s really alarming is that this commercial propaganda just goes unnoticed.
i thought the “i” – first used with the “imac” – was for jonathan ive the industrial designer who revolutionized the mac aesthetic/design vernacular in the late 1990s.
“WereFudged”, what’s “really alarming” is how you use big words to make yourself sound more important and more valid. You strike me as one of those people who say, “I’m having a cognitive moment”, instead of, “I’m thinking.” And the commercial propaganda does NOT go unnoticed. It’s just that some people choose to ignore the details of life because they’re too lazy, and they’ll do anything just to look cool.
Babygurl was pretty bad, I agree, but at least she wasn’t being a stuffed shirt.
It seems to me that it’s the people that use “normal” language that are saying smart, normal things- not the people that are being “stuffed shirts”.
Although I don’t mind when people speak without proper grammar, vernacular, as WereFudged would say, when they take the time to write it out, they should be able to take time to make sure that it’s understandable.
Nook – a small out-of-the-way bay. Hence “get some nookie”?
Go, iPod! Go, go iPod! <3
yes they are a good phone i would admit, but the mark-up put on them gripes me…..they would be making a killing out of these phones…
Alan Greenfield: i do agree…
i bet that China should be able to produce that same phone at least by half the cost. (they probably already are??)
I agree with Shannon: understandability is the most important thing here. (And ‘vernacular’ lol)
For me, as a poet, it was very interesting!
What an interesting series of comments to read after a 12 hour shift! That was a hoot (to use a “vernacular” phrase).
And all this time I thought it meant (i)nterface phone.
I’m new here. When I read babygurl’s comment, I took it as “tongue in cheek”. It made me smile.
Unfortunately I’ve only got a cent and a half…
I always wondered about that…I assumed it stood for ‘internet’ but, then again, the letter ‘I’ can stand for a lot of things I love the iPod/iPhone…but I’m not dying for the device – I’m dying for music. Baby gurl…most people (ppl) aren’t (arnt) looking (luking) for popularity with the device…they’re looking for music and apps (I’m more for music though). I despise chatspeak…and I’m *hoping* you were just using it to make fun of the article. Also, I agree with most of you about the whole ’stuffed shirt’ thing. Seriously, don’t be a Chris Paolini (though I love him ) and use understandable words to make a point instead of ‘possessing a canine named Muffins’ it’s ‘owning/having a dog named/titled Muffins’.
It doesn’t make you a bigger person. Nor does chatspeak.
The whole Dr. Seuss thing was interesting and I love these articles. They’re the best.
I honestly thought the ‘i’ was like an upside down exlaimation mark…
If you write iPod and look at it upside down, it looks like ‘Pod!’
It’s truely sad to find this on a definition-based website,
“A nook… ‘hook, bent figure,’
may be a painful irony for all those folks stooped over their e-readers.”
Not only is the given situation not ironic, but it seems a fatal error that so many fall victim to these days has manifested in this article as this is the exact opposite of the true meaning of the word “irony.” I can’t be the only one to find this disappointing.
“how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
something like that, erh??
OK, I will admit that this was a fascinating distraction from the book chapter I’m supposed to be reading for university but whatever the origin of the word ‘pad’, I still think that the ipad sounds like a feminine hygiene product. Most likely a product with very poor absorbency too.
I love my kindle. It is wonderfully appropriate for my needs. I travel … a lot, not always where books in english abound. I was accustomed to taking a separate bag, fille with books, which I read and left wherever I finished them if I couldn’t find any one who was interested in having them. Big weight though, especially since the airlines are charging enornous fees for checking baggage. Kindle came along just before the airline madness began. We have over a thousand book in our communal library. so I can be assured of something good to read during the entire trip that I can carry in my handbag, and it doesn’t drag me down.
Since when is dictionary.com grammar school? People can type whatever way they want. Anyways, I loved this article. Very interesting.
What are these fandangled telephones that everyone keeps talking about? Must be an updated version of a string and two cans.
Interesting article and interesting comments.
I should be responding to the article, not the comments, but I can’t help myself…
People need to tolerate one another (txt talkin’ and all). That’s something that would even help solve WARS!
As for the article, the word ‘iPod’ has its own meaning now. But it is interesting to read about how they came up with that name…
I liked Ash’s comment, though. Pod!
i think the ipad is cool.
but Apple is really advanced for computers (though they take longer to boot up, so does Windows Vista).
Isn’t “Nook” a mashup of the phrase “New Book”? (That’s what I had assumed.)
& P.S. babygurl’s rant is actually quite consistent in its text/chatspeak dialect (“people” abbreviated to “ppl”; repeated superfluous letters imitating a whiny “babygurl” tone; common acronyms & intentional misspellings such as “OMG”, “gonna”, “outta”, & “fer”; etc.). Personally, I get a kick outta that stuff… You, however, don’t have to like it, but it is *not* necessarily evidence of ignorance; it’s a new dialect, similar to jive talk or cockney rhyming slang. And it takes a lot of speaking, hearing, writing, & reading of the the neolect before one becomes fluent. Assuming “she” knows standard English competently well, there is a sense in which babygurl has a broader (not to mention more contemporary) understanding of the English language than do her standard-English-only detractors. Swell.
Erica, you’re right, it is a misuse of the word irony, but to say it’s “truely [sic] sad” (yeah, try to spell correctly when you’re making a point about grammar) is annoyingly melodramatic. If you think about it for a moment you can easily see why they labeled this occurrence as ironic. I suppose the word they’re really looking for is “coincidence,” since they’ve unkowingly given the device a name which, according to Norwegian origins, perfectly describes the hunched posture of their readership. But since the advertisers who named the product were almost assuredly thinking of the more common meaning of nook, a cubby or alcove, i.e., a good place to read a book, it is safe to assume they were unaware of the Norwegian origin. In which case, the situation is entirely ironic, since the name they supplied gives the device a negative connotation, quite the opposite of what they were trying to achieve. See: dramatic irony. In any case, why split hairs? There are much graver things to be disappointed about.
Hello Dictionary.com blog,
My explanation for Kindle is a little more romantic–before, when there was no electricity, people used to read with a candle (Origin:1150–1200; ME kindlen < ON kynda; cf. ON kindill torch, candle ).
So kindle for me is something that is connected with reading books. But maybe it's just me, .
Damn, last I checked the article was about the “i” in iPhone, how did you guys come to the conclusion tht babygurl’s comment was the topic of conversation? So what if she’s txt typin, evidently y’all understood everything she said, so leave it alone! sheeesh….and i could care less about what yall got to say about me!!!!……lol, lmao, and ctfu!!!!
anonymous: I would have to say that is rude to think she is upset because she couldn’t get one because she didn’t have the money. Well who’s to say she can but doesn’t want one.
babygurl: I agree with you 100% People you will not die if you don’t have one!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I saw “POD” being used way before any Apple devices came to market when I lived in California. It is used by a storage box company and stands for “Portable On Demand.” It says so right on the containers. I can’t imagine that S. Jobs never saw one, but I can imagine why he would never admit to it. Individual Portable On Demand is no stretch. All the “i” what-evers afterward were naturally just extensions of brand.
@GBH…In the movie “Silent Running” Huey, Dewey and Louie were “drones”…not “droids”. Lucas has a copyright on the word and is quite ferocious about defending it.
Something I find very interesting about the posts on dictionary.com is that when somebody expresses an opinion that differs from the general consensus, they are ridiculed for their grammar and punctuation if not their vocabulary. I think it’s really quite rude, to say the least, and that as long as they can be understood, there should not be an issue. That said, I also find it easier to communicate through use of proper use of the English language.
Now about the topic at hand, I don’t see the need for any device, unless practically free, that lets me listen to music on the go. I have a computer at home and while not nearly being impoverished – I’m actually quite well off – I do find the need for a portable music library excessive. Due to the way my brain functions, I either pay attention to my music or my surroundings – so while listening to music while working on homework might be conducive, it is my conclusion that letting myself sink into a sort of “comfort zone” while I’m walking about and managing daily chores is unhealthy as music detracts from the articulation of physical labor and instead fuels my train of thought. This is my opinion, which exists as a product of basing my pending decisions, which none of you share exactly, on my past experiences, which are equally unlikely to relate to you directly. Therefore, there is no grounds upon which my opinion can be considered faulty, since it is my opinion and not reality. just sayin’
Ironically the “i” in iPhone originally stood for ‘intelligent’ but it’s impossible to know for certain now.
I find it funny that you just assume that everyone has one. Well, I live perfectly fine without all those i gadgets. I’ll admit that “I can’t live without my desktop computer” though.
I am the main character of the world.
there’s more to life than to argue )
I thought that -oid meant resembling? Therefore wouldn’t android would mean resembling a human?
This article is the definition of grasping at straws.
you guys are taking this way TOO DEEP!! does it REALLY matter where the i in iphone came from???? and how the heck did we start talking about how internet articles are propaganda, and AMERICAS ECONOMY?? JUST CHILLAX
Nice article! Really liked it.
Baby Gurl makes me ashamed to be human.
@ Jimmy Wales
To someone it must matter. These guys make articles that are supposed to be interesting. Believe it or not, if you don’t care about something, other people might. (You are not the focus of the Earth! SHOCK!) Also, your misuse of Caps Lock/overuse of SHIFT gives me permission to tell you to “CHILLAX”.
Also, to answer the pod question mentioned in the article, pod, besides being used like pea pods or pod people is also used in science fiction such as the term, escape pod and is a lifebuoy in space, so large enough to fit a bear like in the movie Spaceballs, but relatively small in comparison to a starship, and it is also shaped like a seed, plus seeds are little communicators that disseminate biological information and they are held in little pods, so the ipod holds digital information that it disseminates to eardrums… and there you have it, another useless fact
Really guys, you need to cool off and stop arguing about stupid things; you also need to use proper grammer and spelling that you learned in THIRD GRADE! BTW Dictionary critics can use “txt talk” and using all caps but not erratic caps (like WhAtS Up?) is proper in some cases
and i forgot the period.
Typical of a Dictionary Critic Eh?
Eh is a word! Look it up!
I lurv my ereader I has a Sony 2009.
IM CRAZY ANd I LIke my Sony 2009 ErEADER
Really, keep it to order! NO INAPPROPRIATE SUGGESTIONS whoever said iPad seemed like a female product….. And pls dont argue about other posts and random crap!
“andro- is Greek for “human”, not exactly.
anaer, andros = Greek for “man”, as in andrology the (medical) science of men.
gynae, gynaikos = Greek for woman as is gynaecology.
anthropos = Greek for human being (regardless of sex) as in, you guessed it, anthropology.
OOOOh I absolutely beg to differ with this article.
The I in the apples I line of products stands for integrated.
It was first used with the Imac… which was a mac that was.. what do you know… Integrated. A stand alone product.
There was no longer the need for the screen and a Tower.
Hence the use of the I
I cannot say for sure whether the trend that then trickled down the other apple products based the same thinking. But it was a genius marketing move that’s for sure. And well.. for the iphone.. there was already an iPhone prior to the iPhone… where the I in the iPhone actually did stand for internet phone. Though apple’s iPhone does have internet access, that was not the intent of the name.
The earliest source for the term Iphone I can find is in the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic. During the scene where ‘Johny’ is building a computer system for getting online he says he needs an iphone while naming off other yet to be invented hi tech devices,,,,,
A lot of hatin’ in the comments section!
Here’s my comment on the article: Very interesting. I never really thought about it, and the movie 2001.
Now, here’s my comment on the comments: @ Babygurl: Yes, you do need better spelling and grammar, but you don’t deserve all the ridicule you got.
@ WereFudged (Forgive me if I forgot what your name was): Type like a normal person. I agree with everybody else.
@ Heather: Some people do care. Why did you read it in the first place, anyway?
Now, prepare to hate me for my offensive comments! *offends greatly*
Haha… Kids these days.
I usually don’t post about other people’s comments, but seriously. This isn’t somewhere one goes to anonymously attack other people. Let’s try to keep the atmosphere civil. For heavens sake, it’s Dictionary.com!
@Anonymous: Let’s not go making assumptions. Babygurl may need better grammar, but she has a rather good point.
@Heather: If it really doesn’t matter, don’t read the article. Don’t post on the discussion page. DON’T go screaming at us as if it’s our fault. It’s a discussion, so “chillax” yourself.
Now onto the actual article. This IS really interesting. As for my opinion on the names of the Nook and Kindle, I think the Nook was called this because a) it sounds like “book” and b) it’s a place for you to retreat (hence “nook and cranny”). I would think that the name Kindle was chosen because it was meant to kindle mental fires and ideas. The iPod could be called such for various reasons, but I personally think interface and individual are the most plausible explanations. Ash has a interesting point. Pod!
this is very strange
Because it’s a intelligent phone that’s why it’s called I phone