I tried asking Siri how she got her name, but all I got was "a really good question". So I went out to do a little investigative etymology. Apparently, when Apple bought the personal assistant, they needed a name to match the female voice which is easy to remember yet distinguishable from other names. And they already had one! Sort of. Dag Kittalaus, the co-creator of the robot, was enamored with the name (so much that his company was called Siri, Inc.) and tried to convince Steve Jobs to use it. However, the CEO wasn't a fan and asked for a replacement name (one of the main problems was that shiri meant "butt" in Japanese). When no better alternative could be found, Jobs was forced to run with Siri. Kittalaus was ecstatic; he had even planned to name his daughter Siri, but had a son instead, so this was his chance to use the name. The meaning behind this is really a combination of factors: in Kittalaus' native Norwegian, Siri literally means "beautiful woman who leads you to victory", in Swahili it means "secret", and in Sinhalese, it means "beauty". So a bunch of nice words coming together, as it were.
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.