Helpful Resources When Naming Your Company
We help founders name their companies and products all the time. It’s a fun but challenging task for anyone, but especially for someone with biases related to being the founder.
Here are some resources that can help you get started. If you get stuck, reach out and we’ll give you a hand.
- Datamuse – A collection of free websites, mobile apps, and APIs designed to help people create and communicate more effectively.
- OneLook Dictionary – Generally considered the go-to dictionary while naming, OneLook is a “dictionary of dictionaries” covering general definitions as well as slang, medical, technology, and more. Also offers powerful search tools to find related words, phrases, and fill-in-the-blank.
- RhymeZone – An effective rhyming dictionary that categorizes results by number of syllables and includes near-rhymes and offers solid searches. Don’t miss the “Find synonyms” option – it’s perhaps the best thesaurus out there for naming purposes.
- Dictionary.com – Primary definitions, secondary definitions, root words, and related terms. A good jumping off point but unlikely to get you to the end of your search.
- The Free Dictionary – A powerful search engine and dictionary ideal for quick broswing & generation. Each word page is rich with definitions, synonyms, references, and related words. A great place to start any search.
- Green’s Dictionary of Slang – Self-described “Five hundred years of the vulgar tongue.” Search by slang term (versus finding slang words for a term). Useful to check if your selected name is offensive.
- Merriam-Webster – Comprehensive dictionary including pronunciations, first known uses, language learner and children’s definitions. Also includes a strong thesaurus.
- Sideways Dictionary – A helpful tool for describing technology terms by using analogies instead of dense terminology.
- Wordnik – The world’s largest online dictionary (by number of words). Wordnik shows definitions from multiple sources, example sentences, rhymes, and related words. Don’t miss the advanced search, which allows for regular expression style matching.
- OneLook Thesaurus – One of the web’s most powerful thesauruses. Search by single word or phrase. Great for quickly generating lists of loosely related words.
- Moby Thesaurus – A self-described “weird and wonderful reference full of unusual andilluminating wordrelationships,” every entry is an exercise in free association. A must-visit, especially if you’re stuck.
- Power Thesaurus – A strong crowdsourced thesaurus (relying on upvotes for synonyms) with an interface that makes it easy to quickly churn through related terms.
- Thesaurus.com – The classic internet thesaurus. If you find OneLook Thesaurus too dry, this is your best bet.
- Etymology Online – The etymology and history behind modern English words with dates, languages, origins, and roots. Includes some slang and informal English.
- Sketch Engine – An online tool that works with large samples of text to identify what is typical and frequent in a language and what is rare, outdated, going out of use. In a nutshell, Sketch Engine is a tool to learn how language works. This is the most pro-level linguistic tool in this list. Paid product with 30-day free trial.
- Phrase Thesaurus – Enter a word and this thesaurus will display a list of phrases/sayings that are related to it.
- Google Translate – A good start for browsing foreign language translations — not always 100% reliable but improving quickly through community verification.
- Linguee – High quality translation dictionary with over one million translations and 20+ languages. See meanings, contextual translations, and other pages around the web where the word is properly used so you can get a feel for how a word used.
- Translatr – Translate words and phrases into multiple languages at once. Nice Translator provides similar functionality but offers a less convenient interface.
- SDL Trados Studio – One of the most recommended computer-assisted translation tools, Trados Studio is a paid service with a 30-day free trial.
Word Generators / Other Tools
- Ngram Viewer – Compare the popularity of words across the massive corpus of Google Books.
- Behind the Name Generator – Generate random given names based on nationality, fantasy, or root.
- Fantasy Name Generator – Generates names, words, and descriptions in nearly every category possible including well-known fictional universes, every known culture, places, flora and fauna, pop culture, and more. A one-stop shop for inspiration or worldbuilding.
- Building an Alien Language – A forum with resources on how to construct a convincing (sounding) alien language.
- Mixwords – Simple tool that takes source words and generates random mixes to quickly visualize potential combinations.
- Panabee – A simple way to search for domain names, app names, and company names. Combines input words to create unexpected pairings and connections.
- Text Mechanic – A collection of text manipulation tools. These two are useful for quickly trying out various combinations of prefixes and suffices: Add Prefix/Suffix into Line, Line Combination Generator
- Wordoid – Power random word generator with toggles for language, quality, patterns, length, and domain availability.
- Tools for creating ideas – Methodologies and prompts for new ways of thinking about what you’re naming and generating unexpected word associations.
- Universal Text Combination Generator – Useful for seeing how words might fit together.
- MRC Psycholinguistic Database – “This database can be used to create word stimuli that have different properties and control for other properties.” Challenging to use but often rewarding. Don’t miss this primer on how to use it.
- Generic company name endings – A list of generic terms that can be appended to a name (ex: “Partners”, “Solutions”) in order to avoid potential conflicts with other entities who might have the same name.
Inspiration (Glossaries, Technical Terms)
- Phrontistery – An ecclectic compendium of “rare, cool, and unusual words,” including words lost to the ages and a collection of glossaries.
- Three letter words – Created for Scrabble but useful for generating short names from real words
- Mother & Baby Name Generator – Search for baby names alphabetically or browse by category.
- Name Mixer – Baby name generator that mixes two parents names yielding real name results that include bits of both names.
- Random Name Generator – Meant as a fiction writer’s tool, this generator creates random real-sounding names sourced from samples in the US Census. Offers the ability to toggle rarity of the names generated.
- Baby Name Wizard – An extensive database of baby names with perhaps the best tools for digging through them. Don’t miss their NameVoyager, for exploring trends across decades, as well as their OKCupid-style data analysis blog posts.
- Nameberry – 50,000+ database of baby names with popularity, lists (trends, cool, classic, etc.), and a name generator.
- Behind the Name – The etymology and history behind first names and surnames. Also includes tools for top names by country and year.
Many of today’s most recognizable brands are named for ancient Roman gods and goddesses.
- Greek Gods & Goddesses – A complete list of Greek Gods, their Names, realms, and influence. Major gods have additional backstory and information.
- Hindu Gods & Goddesses – An in-depth resource on the history and meaning of Hindu deities.
- Japanese Creatures – A list of demons, ghosts, yōkai, obake, yūrei, and other legendary creatures that are notable in Japanese folklore and mythology.
- Mythical Civilizations & Places – A list of mythological places which appear in mythological tales, folklore, and varying religious texts.
- Norse Mythology, Gods, and Creatures – Reliable, well-documented information on the fascinating mythology and religion of the Norse/Germanic peoples.
- Roman Gods & Goddesses – A complete list of Roman Gods, their names, realms, and influence. Major gods have additional backstory and information.
Technical & Trade Language
- Architectural – Architectural terms along with photos illustrating their meaning. Ex: chancel, soffit, impost, naos
- Aviation – Aviation related terms and definitions obtained from the Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Aviation Regulations, and many other sources.
- Biker Slang – Introductory dictionary of commonly used road-motorcycle terminology and biker slang, compiled with the average “citizen” in mind.
- Cartographic Glossary, University of Texas – Definitions of map and cartographic terms.
- Cocktails, The Spruce – Terms for mixology, bartending, and cocktails.
- How to Name a Cocktail – A bartender’s guide to developing cocktail names.
- Cryptography – An exhaustive list of expert-sounding crypto terms.
- Dive Speak, ScubaIntro – List of scuba terms, definitions, and slang.
- Electrical Engineering – Very detailed glossary of engineering terms and acronyms.
- Emergency Services – Terminology for emergency management education and practice.
- HAM Radio Glossary, ARRL – Amateur radio terms and lingos. Ex: flutter, fox hunt.
- Hobo Code & Terminology – The glossary primarily documents terms from the1880’s until World War I. Also includes some contemporary hobo, railroad and homeless terms.
- Leet speak – An alternative alphabet for many languages that is used primarily on the Internet. Useful for character substitution, alternative spellings, usernames, and license plates. See also: Universal Leet Converter.
- Legal – The official glossary for U.S. courts legal terms. Ex: acquittal, docket, hearsay.
- Lighthouses – Glossary terms collected from the United States Lighthouse Society and United States Coast Guard.
- Math words – A comprehensive listing of formulas and definitions from beginning algebra to calculus. Created by a high school math teacher, the explanations are readable for average math students, and over a thousand illustrations and examples are provided.
- Medical Terminology, GlobalRPh – Definitions, roots, and word building terms for medical terms.
- Nautical Know-How – A glossary of boating and nautical basics.
- Politics – A meta-list of wide reaching political terminology, from Cold War terms to political terminology in South Africa.
- Spycraft – Spy code, terminology, and covert talk.
- Surfer – The lingo and technical terminology for surfing and surfers. Ex: akaw, hodad, mullering.
- Thieves Cant – Based on the “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” London in 1811.
- Space Travel – A glossary covering the real world kind of space travel. Ex: accretion disc, gagarin, mach.
- Sports – A meta-list of sports terminology, with a few highlights: Baseball, Basketball, Football
- Ancient Names – Common names used in ancient civilizations.
- Anime & Manga Characters – An exhaustive list of character names, filterable by traits and tags.
- Buzz Words – Classic corporate speak. Ex: synergy, unpack, mind share.
- Comic Books – Deep Character name lists from the two comic powerhouses: D.C. Comics, Marvel Comics
- Famous Fix – Celebrity search engine with strong summaries, filmography, and character names. An interesting way to generate “name” names.
- Fictional Literary Characters – Character names, primarily from classic and best selling books.
- Female Literary Characters – A good list of characters, but beware the horrible ads.
- 70 Best Character Names in Literature – Editorial list outlining a wide range of books. Ex: Dim, Major Major Major Major, Veruca.
- Game of Thrones – A comprehensive wiki for the world created by George R.R. Martin.
- Greatest Movie Characters of All-Time – Empire magazine’s tally of the most memorable movie characters.
- Hip Hop Artists – Mostly recent artists (no Easy-E, for instance), so primarily useful for finding current trends.
- Inventors – Extensive list of inventors throughout history. A common naming practice for tech-focused products or companies.
- Glossary of Science Fiction Ideas, Technology and Inventions – A fun examination of sci-fi. Ex: absolute black, kinagram, sapho juice.
- Words Every Sci-Fi Fan Should Know – Deeper sci-fi terms and their background. Ex: dyson sphere, positronic, quine
- Jules Verne Glossary – Characters and vehicles from books such as Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days.
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary – A print book with extensive definitions and illustrations of the Star Wars world.
- Star Trek Academy Dictionary – A glossary of terms from areas of the universe where no man has gone before.
- Words Invented by Shakespeare – The famous playwright coined a surprising number of words. Ex: hobnob, gossip, madcap
- Intel codenames – Intel Inc’s internal project and technology codenames (Wikipedia).
- Google Android – Android’s version naming has been built-on the names of treats and candy for over ten years.
- Mac OS – With the launch of Mac OS (?) Apple made the decision to celebrate California and name their desktop operating system off of iconic CA landmarks and natural wonders.
- Glossary of Computer Programming Terms – CS and general programming terms. Ex: scheme, overloading, mutator
- All TLDs – (domains)A full list of all top-level domains. Useful for generating unique URLs.
- Urban Dictionary – The people’s internet dictionary. Find obscure memes, definitions, and phrases. Useful to check if your selected name is offensive or has an obscure second meaning.
- Word Safety – Search across 19+ languages to ensure your name isn’t offensive in a foreign language.
- Forvo – An extensive collection of audio recordings of speakers with various accents and cultural backgrounds pronouncing words.
- WIPO Global Brand Database – Search trademarks across international jurisdictions.
- TMview – A global trademark search engine that extends beyond the reach of WIPO’s search offering.
- Trademarkia – Search millions of U.S. trademarks filed since 1870.
- Corsearch – A paid trademark screening and clearance search engine.
- USPTO Trademark Search – The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s official search. Useful tool when vetting candidate names.
- App Annie – Leader in App Store search. Useful for finding names of existing apps and services that aren’t readily surfaced via web searches.
- Logobook – Not directly name related but a useful showcase (and well-maintained) of brands, logos, and corporate identities.
- Brands of the World – Corporate logo search engine. Useful for seeing visual representations of words.
- Markify – A paid trademark search engine. Offers more sophisticated tools than other free offerings.
Domains & Social
- I Want My Name – Perhaps the most comprehensive domain search, providing availability status for domains across most of the new TLDs.
- Domainr – Wide reaching domain search, with auto-suggestions for modifications to find available names. Ex: unti.tl/ed
- Domain Groovy – A fairly comprehensive list of tools and resources for domain name generation.
- Char 5 – All currently available 3, 4, and 5 character .com domain names.
- Domain Maker – A wizard for generating available domain names based on a seed word.
- Impossibility – Adds random words and letters to domain names. Good for rapid generation and vetting.
- KnowEM – Incredibly useful tool to check for the use of your brand, product, personal name, or username instantly on over 500 popular social media websites, domains, and trademarks.
- Name Station – Primarily a domain name search tool, but has a wizard like interface for generating name ideas and does an okay job of offering synonyms, recombinations, etc.
- Name Mesh – Domain name search, but offers a column based view of different combinations, etc. Also checks social media availability.
- 800 For All – Search for available toll free numbers, including vanity numbers using word prefixes and suffixes.
Guides & Sprints
- 3-Step Processes for Naming – Strong yet simple naming exercise from startup designer and founder Ben Pieratt.
- How to Name a Company in 8 Hours – GV created a short naming sprint based on an session they ran with a portfolio company.
- How to Name Things by Venkatesh Rao – A lengthy, poetic meditation on the act of naming and numbering as basic human traits to build meaning and organization in our world. Highly recommended.
- How to Name Things In Programming – A thorough slide deck for naming in code and programming with examples from (non-code) writers including Orwell, King, Hemingway, Gaiman, Carroll, and more. Produced by Software Engineer Peter Hilton.
- Rewind and Capture Naming Guide ebook – A thorough (free) ebook with a simple step-by-step naming process from positioning and classification to ideation, vetting, and selection. Rich with sourced content including YouTube videos, linked articles, and more.
- Tools for Creating Ideas – A useful collections of general creative methods and tools.
- Zinzin’s Process for Naming – A summary of branding agency Zinzin’s process for naming companies and products. They also assembled a 100+ page PDF Naming guide.
- Tanj’s Naming Guides – Branding firm Tanj provides two different naming guides, one oriented toward the DIYer looking to name or rename their own company and another oriented toward marketing professionals tasked with naming products and services.
- Interbrand’s Naming Handbook – Interbrand provides a naming handbook as part of their client lead generation funnel and, while less detailed than those from other firms, it serves as a good overview for those looking to quickly orient themselves to the process of naming.
- Catchword’s Naming Guide – A guide aimed at those looking to tackle naming themselves.