Tag: food

Company Names

Company Names

I spent the early part of the summer writing 400-word summaries[1] about several hundred leading companies operating in the UK. Surprisingly, the job was fascinating first because I realized[2] quite how much the economy of my country of birth has been transformed in the last couple of decades. A number of large[3] banks and companies that were household names[4] have simply disappeared, while insurance brokers, payday lenders[5] and internet betting shops[6] now form a major part of the economy (the long-term implications of which I won’t go into[7] here). Just one example: Stoke-on-Trent is a city of a quarter-of-a-million people. It used to be famous for its pottery[8], coal[9] and steel[10] industries. Now the largest[11] employer is the online gambling company[12] Bet365.

Anyway, along with new companies come new names and it is these that are the subject of this rambling[13] article. Specifically, I want to consider some of them in the context of Alexandra Watkins’ book Hello, My Name is Awesome (2015). Most of the new names continue the traditions of using euphony[14], acronyms and wordplay.

Effective Names

A good example is the name of Mitie /’maiti:/, the outsourcing[15] company, which is a felicitous acronym for “Management Incentive Through Investment Equity” with a pun[16] on ‘mighty[17]. Another successful brand name[18] is that of the discount website ‘Groupon’, a clever portmanteau word[19]. It comes from ‘group’ fused with ‘coupon’. A final example of an effective name is Npower[20], which stands for[21] “national power”. However, the name has echoes of ‘empower[22] as it is often mispronounced (“enpower”).

Brain[23] Fodder[24]

HungryHouse[25] is also a pretty[26] successful company name. It connects with the moment in which potential customers are likely to[27] purchase[28] takeaway food[29] – when they are hungry – and offers alliteration for memorability[30]. Finally, there are echoes of the simile “as hungry as a horse[31]. However, the rhyme in GrubHub[32] makes that name even more inspired: ‘grub’ is a colloquial word for food and ‘hub’ means ‘centre’. Both names are better than Deliveroo[33], though. Kangaroo’s transport their young[34], not food – Hamster would have been more appropriate!

GoSkippy[35] seems a singularly stupid name for an insurance company. First, why refer to a TV character who disappeared back in 1970? – only a small part of your potential customer base – those over 55 who grew up in Britain or Australia – are going to relate to[36] it. Moreover, what do kangaroos have to do with[37] insurance? Maybe I just[38] don’t like kangaroos!

A better animal allusion is found in the name of Music Magpie[39]. Not only is there alliteration but magpies collect valuable objects, just like the ‘recommerce[40] company does.


Some names are less successful because, though they are highly[41] ingenious, ordinary English-speakers need them to be explained. For instance[42], the logic behind the name of ‘Airbnb’ becomes evident with a little explanation. The idea behind the company is that anyone can turn[43] their apartment into a bed and breakfast[44] (b’n’b) by putting an inflatable mattress[45] in their sitting room (the ‘air’ in the name).

The name of the online supermarket, Ocado, is also obscure without an explanation. It is “a made-up[46] word, intended to[47] evoke fresh fruit” (i.e. Avocado), according to CEO Jez Frampton.

Bad Names

The name of the classified ads[48] website, Gumtree[49], betrays[50] its origins. It was set up[51] by expatriate Antipodians in London to help other expatriate Antipodians with accommodation, employment and so on[52]. The name comes from the New Zealand expression ‘to be up a gum tree’ (= be in a predicament[53]).

Personally, I find ‘ipostparcels[54] extremely irritating. I’m no fan of starting a name with a lowercase[55] letter or running three words together[56], so to me it looks like the efforts of a small child who is just[57] learning to write.

However, for me at least an example of crass[58] company name is ‘Missguided[59]. Yes, OK, it includes the ‘miss[60] suggesting that it is oriented towards young women, though it is telling[61] that they never use ‘miss’ on their website, only ‘babe[62]. But the pun[63] is on the word ‘misguided’, which means ‘ill-advised[64] or ‘foolish’ – what sort of a connotation is that? In fact, ‘Missguided’ commits three of Alexandra Watkins’s[65] seven deadly sins[66] of brand names[67]: it looks like a typo[68], it’s annoying[69] and it’s uninspired.

The Limits of Clever

The name ‘Quickquid[70] sounds like an effective use of allitero-assonance with the allusion that they will lend you money rapidly and nothing more. However, it might just also be an allusion to the Latin word Quicquid (= whatever[71]) – but I doubt it! Sometimes a name is just[72] a name and you shouldn’t over-interpret[73].

[1] summary – synopsis

[2] to realize – (false friend) become conscious

[3] large – (false friend) big, important

[4] to be a household name – be wellknown, be recognized by practically everyone

[5] payday lender – a company that lends customers small sums of money at high interest rates, on the agreement that the loan will be repaid when the borrower receives his/her next salary payment

[6] internet betting shoptype of online casino

[7] to go into sth. (go-went-gone) – examine, investigate

[8] pottery – ceramics

[9] coalpieces of carbon used as fuel

[10] steeltype of extra-strong ferrous metal

[11] largestbiggest, most important

[12] online gambling companytype of internet-based casino

[13] rambling – digressive, discursive

[14] euphonysound parallelisms (e.g. alliteration, assonance, etc.)

[15] outsourcing – contracting out, paying another company to do part of one’s production process

[16] punpiece of homophonic wordplay

[17] mightypowerful

[18] brand nametrademark, commercial name

[19] portmanteau wordterm formed by fusing together parts of two existing words

[20] a gas and electricity company

[21] to stand for (stand-stood-stood) – represent

[22] to empower – emancipate, give sb. control over his/her life

[23] brain (adj.) – mental

[24] fodderfood for animals

[25] an online platform for takeaway food

[26] pretty (adv.) – reasonably

[27] are likely to – will probably

[28] to purchase – buy

[29] takeaway foodfood that is prepared at a restaurant but is brought home by customers or delivered to their homes by the restaurant

[30] memorability – being memorable, being easy to remember

[31] as hungry as a horsevery hungry, famished

[32] an online and mobile food-ordering company that connects customers with local restaurants, a rival of HungryHouse

[33] an online food-delivery company; a competitor to HungryHouse and GrubHub. The name is a portmanteau word19 based on ‘delivery’ + ‘kangaroo’

[34] their young [U] – their babies

[35] an insurance company. The name refers to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, an Australian TV series (1968-1970)

[36] to relate to sth. – identify with sth. , feel a connection with sth.

[37] what do kangaroos have to do with…?how are kangaroos related to…?

[38] just – (in this case) simply

[39] an online marketplace for buying and selling second-hand CDs, DVDs, etc. A magpie is a species of black and white bird (Pica pica) related to crows (Corvidae) that is known for taking bright objects

[40] recommercebuying and selling of second-hand products online

[41] highlyvery

[42] for instance – for example

[43] to turn – (in this case) convert

[44] bed and breakfastsmall private hotel

[45] mattress – the soft part of a bed

[46] made-up – invented

[47] intended to – designed to

[48] adadvert (UK English), advertisement

[49] an online company for people to buy and sell things within their local communities. A gum tree is literally a eucalyptus tree or similar

[50] to betray – (in this case) reveal

[51] to set sth. up (set-set-set) – create sth., establish sth.

[52] and so on – et cetera, etc.

[53] to be in a predicament – be in a difficult or embarrassing situation

[54] a package-delivery company

[55] lowercaseminuscule

[56] to run together (run-ran-run) – fuse, combine

[57] just – (in this case) in the process of

[58] crassstupid, showing no intelligence

[59] a clothes store for women aged 16 to 35

[60] miss – an unmarried woman

[61] telling – revealing, significant

[62] babe – (potentially sexist) young woman who is considered sexually attractive. The term, of course, infantilizes women.

[63] punpiece of homophonic wordplay

[64] ill-advised – imprudent

[65] Hello, My Name is Awesome (2015)

[66] deadly sins – (in this case) cardinal mistakes

[67] brand namename of a product or service

[68] typospelling mistake

[69] annoyingirritating

[70] a payday lender. Literally, a ‘quid’ is, colloquially, a pound (sterling).

[71] whatever – a. under any circumstances; b. anything; c. (an exclamation expressing total indifference) I don’t care!

[72] just – (in this case) only

[73] to over-interpretfind camouflaged significance where none was intended

Headaches 1: Ingredients to Avoid

Headaches 1: Ingredients to Avoid

’Tis the season to[1] have headaches, so I thought I’d offer you a little relief[2] with this three-part blogpost:

Everyone has a headache at one time or another and about 10% of the population suffer from a recurrent problem. As such, headaches are one of the great evils[3] of humanity. However, the term ‘headache’ describes a variety of conditions that are potentially caused by a whole series of different factors or a combination of these.

Headaches usually reflect an imbalance or deficiency in some part of our bodies. For this reason, while the short term solution may be to take a painkiller[4], in the long run[5] it is much better to try to identify the problem that has caused this frustrating symptom.

Eating Relief

According to some estimates[6], three quarters of headaches are caused by an allergy to some type of food. The most common culprits[7] are milk, wheat[8] and eggs. If you suffer from regular headaches it is worth experimenting[9] with your diet to see if you can identify and eliminate the ingredient that is causing your headache. To do this, keep a food diary and cut out specific foods one by one. None of the recommendations made here can adversely affect your health and most of them will improve[10] your wellbeing even if they are not directly related to your headache.

When experimenting with the elimination of an ingredient from your diet it is worth remembering[11] that the positive effects will not be felt immediately. What’s more, you should be sure to eliminate all sources of[12] the ingredient not just the most obvious ones (e.g. caffeine is not just found in coffee but also in tea and soft drinks). However, a word of warning[13]; eliminating caffeine too quickly from your diet can cause withdrawal headaches[14].

Most people who are allergic to alcohol, caffeine and wheat8 are aware of[15] their problem. The following ingredients may also cause allergic headaches:

Tyramine. This substance is found in chocolate, cheese, eggs, red wine and onions.

Monosodium glutamate. This additive can cause headaches and has also been associated with more serious conditions[16] such as epilepsy.

Nitrites. These are found in fertilizers and above all[17] in smoked food.

Other people may have a low tolerance for the hormones and antibiotics that are used in the industrial production of meat, butter, cheese, other dairy products[18] and eggs. Consuming organic food should relieve[19] headaches caused by these factors.


Heavy Metals

Heavy metals can seriously affect your health as well as causing headaches. Cadmium is one metal to watch out for[20]. Refined foods often have higher levels of cadmium than wholemeal[21] foods. Moreover[22], the refining process often eliminates ingredients that reduce the negative effects of cadmium, such as vitamin C and zinc. Another source[23] of cadmium is cigarette smoke.

Fish and seafood from rivers and coastal waters often contain harmful[24] levels of cadmium, mercury and lead[25] because these organisms tend to accumulate the heavy metals that contaminate our waters. Mercury is also found in some fungicides[26], which is just one reason why it is important to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly[27]. The best way of reducing the effects of heavy metals is again to consume organic food rich in zinc, calcium and magnesium.

[1] ’tis the season to – it’s the time of year when we typically

[2] relief – (in this case) alleviation, mitigation, succour

[3] evil (n.) – misfortune, affliction

[4] painkilleraspirin, paracetamol, acetaminophen (US English), etc.

[5] in the long run – in the long term, as a permanent solution

[6] estimate (n.) – approximate calculation

[7] culpritguilty party, element to blame

[8] wheat – (Triticum aestivum) grain/cereal from which bread is typically made

[9] it is worth experimenting – you should experiment, it is a good idea to experiment

[10] to improve sth.make sth. better, enhance sth.

[11] it is worth remembering – you should remember, it is a good idea to remember

[12] source of – (in this case) food containing

[13] a word of warning – be careful

[14] withdrawal headacheheadache that is a symptom of ceasing to take a drug

[15] to be aware of – be conscious of

[16] (medical) conditionmedical problem

[17] above all – especially

[18] dairy productfood and drink made from milk

[19] to relieve – alleviate, mitigate, reduce

[20] to watch out for – be vigilant against, be careful with

[21] wholemeal – organic, ‘natural’

[22] moreover – furthermore, besides, what’s more, in addition

[23] source – originator, producer

[24] harmfuldangerous

[25] lead – (Pb.) type of soft metal

[26] fungicidesubstance for killing fungi

[27] thoroughly – well



Photo by AndonicO

It’s the time of year when we eat most nuts[1]roast[2] chestnuts[3], hazelnuts[4], almonds[5] and walnuts[6]. The latter[7] are some of the oldest nuts to be harvested[8] by humans. Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids[9]. They are also beneficial in preventing[10] coronary heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

However the walnut tree (Juglans regia) has many more uses. The wood is used for everything from the dashboards[11] on Jaguar sports cars to furniture[12]. The crushed[13] shells[14] can be used to clean runway lights[15] at airports and NASA has even used them as insulation[16] for the nose-cones[17] of their spacecraft[18]. Walnut oil can be used in cooking but the Ancient Egyptians preferred to use it to embalm their mummies.

Walnut trees are beneficial even if you don’t cut them down or harvest8 the nuts. Their leaves[19] produce a toxic vapour that drives away flies[20]. Walnut trees also produce a chemical weapon[21], juglone, to protect themselves against other plants. This can be used by humans as a natural herbicide.

Walnut trees are native to southern Europe and Asia and this explains their name in English and other Germanic languages[22]; ‘walnut’ means “foreign nut”.

With all these uses, it is not surprising that walnuts are associated with fertility. A good harvest[23] of walnuts in France traditionally means that many children will be born. The English associates walnuts with testicles (referred to as “one’s nuts” in playground parlance[24]). By contrast, Jungian psychology associates dreaming of walnuts with female genitalia. Either way, in Ancient Rome bride[25] and groom[26] were pelted with[27] walnuts to ensure their fertility. However, even if children are desired, I recommend you stick to[28] rice or confetti!

[1] nut – the edible oily kernel of a fruit with a hard shell

[2] roast – (in this case) baked, made edible by heating

[3] chestnut – the edible nut of the chestnut tree (Castanea dentata)

[4] hazelnutspherical brown nut of the hazel tree (Corylus avellana)

[5] almond – edible kernel of the almond tree (Prunus amygdalus)

[6] walnutsee photo

[7] the latter – the last mentioned, (in this case) walnuts

[8] to harvestgather, collect

[9] fatty acid – carboxylic acid occurring in edible oils

[10] to prevent – stop

[11] dashboardpanel containing the instruments and controls of a vehicle

[12] furnituretables, chairs etc.

[13] crushed – smashed, broken up, triturated

[14] shellhard outer covering

[15] runway light – illumination for aeroplanes that are taking off or landing

[16] insulation – protective material that isolates sth. from extreme temperatures

[17] nose-cone – front

[18] spacecraftvehicle for travelling through outer space

[19] leavesfoliage

[20] (house)fly – (Musca domestica) type of flying insect

[21] chemical weapon – (in this case) defensive chemical substance

[22] walnoot in Dutch, valnød in Danish, valnöt in Swedish and valnøtt in Norwegian

[23] good harvest – abundant collection, copious yield

[24] playground parlance – the language of schoolchildren

[25] bridewoman who is getting married

[26] (bride)groomman who is getting married

[27] to be pelted with sth. – have sth. thrown at you

[28] to stick to sth. (stick-stuck-stuck) – only use sth., limit oneself to sth.