Yesterday, when researching how prescription medications get named, I stumbled across the rather interesting story of the word Viagra. According to IUPAC standards, the official chemical name is sidenafil citrate, but that wasn't too popular with ad executives. They wanted something that was easy to remember, so they could continue to make a lot of money when the patent expired, and something that sounded sexy, that could evoke flowing fertility. So after a meeting in the mid-1990s, the drug's maker, Pfizer, settled on Viagra, which works on multiple levels. The first part, vi-, brings to mind words like virility, vitality, victory, and vigor, while the last part is the name Niagara, like the waterfalls. Besides that portmanteau, it's also a play on the Sanskrit word vyaghra, which meant "tiger", so it's very well thought out.
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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.