Answer by Chris Maguire, Co-founder, lead engineering through August 2008, on Quora,

Back when we were building what became Etsy, we spent a lot of time thinking about what it should be named. To assist in the task, we set about writing a complicated name-generation script. It would perform the following operations:

  1. Pull a list of all available 4-letter domain names from ICANN
  2. Utilize a custom Bayesian-inspired algorithm to detect phonetically pronounceable words
  3. Cross-reference the list with popular search term data from Google to identify trending suffixes
  4. Take the 25 highest-ranking terms and present them in a survey to 1000 people via Mechanical Turk to determine which they liked the best

Unfortunately, we never got it to work. As shorthand, we had been referring to the script as "Etsy" so we just decided to apply that name to our marketplace because it seemed as good an option as any. We then made a founder's pact to give a different origin story for the site's name every time someone asked about it.

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Published on: Mar 12, 2015