Palantir is a rather sketchy data analytics company that contracts out to the Department of Defense and is valued at over $41 billion. Its name is rather interesting for such a corporation: it comes from an object in Lord of the Rings, the palantír, which served as a scrying orb to communicate and see events from around the world (more ominously, it could be used to corrupt people). The name was chosen for the obvious connection to secret observation, but it's also probably not a coincidence that billionaire investor/chairman Peter Thiel founded five other companies with LOTR-based names (Rivendell One LLC, Lembas LLC, Valar Ventures, and Mithril Capital Management). Maybe he's just a huge fantasy geek. Anyway, J. R. R. Tolkien created the word from his Quenya language to mean "far-seeing". Inspired by Finnish and classical languages, Quenya was one of the first major conlangs and is really cool; Tolkien was a big fan of etymology and you should check out his pioneering work in language creation if you have more time.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.