We recently covered the etymologies of Twitter and Reddit, and we've done Google, Amazon, and Instagram, in the past, but Facebook has been uncharted territory- until now, that is. It's a rather obvious combination of the nouns face and book, but how did that particular phrase get chosen? The answer surprised me as a Gen Z kid, but might not be so shocking for older people: a facebook used to be a directory for US college students listing names and headshots (a term first coined in 1983). When Mark Zuckerberg first launched his website in 2004, he meant it as a method for college students to network, and appropriately dubbed it The Facebook. Then, as anybody who's seen the Social Network can tell you, Sean Parker told him to drop the "the" and the rest is history, right? Well, not really- that story is most likely apocryphal. It was just sort of the natural thing to do as they bought out the domain name facebook.com in 2005.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University, where I founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. I also have disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.