MUNDANE MYSTERIES: How Did They Come Up With The Name Siri?

MUNDANE MYSTERIES: How Did They Come Up With The Name Siri?

I’m sure you’ve seen by now that Apple made their latest big announcement on Tuesday (10/13) revealing the new iPhone 12.  Like always it’s better, faster, can do waaaay more things than your current iPhone, blah blah blah, oh and 5G (kinda) this time!

Siri is still a big part of the iPhone world and the new Apple HomePod mini they announced. Which got me thinking… how did they even come up with “Siri”?

In a Q&A on Quora one of the engineers of the original startup company that developed Siri for Apple explained…

As a startup, when coming up with Siri’s name, we wanted something that was easy to remember, short to type, comfortable to pronounce, and a not-too-common human name. And we wanted to be able to get the domain name for not too much money… 😉

Once Siri became the leading candidate, everyone on the team had their own favorite explanation of the meaning. Dag Kittlaus, our Norwegian-American CEO, once considered using Siri as the name of his child, and liked the Norse meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”. For me, Siri, which means “secret” in Swahili, was a tip of the hat to our pre-named days when we began as I also liked the fact that it was the reverse of Iris, a software system I helped build as part of the CALO project which Siri spun out of. Some liked the resemblance to SRI, which was the research institute that ran the CALO project. We knew about Siri = beauty in Sinhalese, but missed that SHIRI = “butt” in Japanese (they’re not the same word, but closely pronounced…)

And it was all a big surprise for the team that Apple decided to keep the original Siri name for it’s launch as part of iOS. There were other candidates that were leading, up until the final weeks…

Now you know! I guess I could’ve also just asked Siri that… ha ha.


Photo credit: Getty Images