Some of you may have read Andrew Clement's The Frindle as a kid. Turns out that's pretty much what happened with google. The term googol (note the different spelling) was invented by a nine year old in the 1940s (kind of makes sense if you think about it), whose mathematician father "borrowed" the term to describe a number one followed by a hundred zeroes. Googolplex was also coined at the same time, describing ten raised to the power of googol. Later, in 1997, as Alphabet founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were aspiring to create a search service, Larry suggested the name googolplex for their new site. Sergey agreed, after they both decided to shorten it to googol, however he misspelled it when entering the new domain name. The rest is history. Meanwhile, there's an apocryphal story that Microsoft's Bing search engine stood for "But It's Not Google." Microsoft has not commented on this, but it is likely false. "Bing" came from French around the nineteen hundreds and means "a small bang." Compared to google, maybe that's what it is.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a sophomore studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.