The Real Reason Jeff Bezos Picked The Name Amazon

There are some things in life that we interact with so regularly that we never bother to question what we call them. Everybody knows, for example, what the dough-scraping stick with the rubber thing at the end is called, but do we ever stop and wonder "how'd we come up with the word 'spatula?'" Most of us don't. Most of us have jobs and things to focus on. (It's latin, by the way.)

But what about companies? Ubiquitous mega corporations? These are the great loves of society's elite. Most businesses, you'd think, would have a name that's meaningful to the titans of industry who created them. Let's take a look at how a company that got its start selling stacks of thinly sliced trees wound up being called Amazon.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the process of elimination

According to "The Everything Store," a book by Brad Stone on the history of Amazon, the original intended name for everyone's favorite juggernaut of commerce was "Cadabra," as in "abracadabra." The problems were as follows: first, Jeff Bezos' lawyer thought that the name was "too obscure" since, you know, nobody's ever heard of magic, maybe. The second issue was a little more pragmatic. It was easy to mistake the word "cadabra" with "cadaver" over the phone, and that's the stuff snarky political cartoons are made of. 

A couple of other names got floated around and even registered. The domain "" still redirects to Amazon, but the name was scrapped when it came off as too intense.

So why did Jeff Bezos choose "Amazon?"

The name "Amazon" came from two places. First off, it was already the name of the biggest river in the world, making it both familiar and evocative of grandeur. Secondly, way back in 1995, a lot of websites were still listed alphabetically, meaning that a site with an "A" name had a leg up on the competition. If that sounds strange, keep in mind that it's an age old business technique harkening back to the first phone book listings. That's why so many back-in-the-day businesses had monickers like Acme and Ajax.