The History of the Name Zinzin

Our own name, like many we have created for other companies, is full of surprises, layers of meaning, and rich associations, though at first glance it may seem no more than a made-up name with no story. No matter, a little brand called “Google” is in the same boat. And like “Google,” our name is also uniquely “unknown” enough to enable us to brand it as THE place for powerful brand naming. Eventually, we want “Zinzin” to become synonymous with naming the way “Google” is for search.

So where does the name “Zinzin” come from? Zinzin is colloquial French for bonkers, cracked, touched , loopy, potty, crazy, nuts. Just what you want in a naming firm, right? But wait, the plot thickens…

In addition to being a “crazy” word, Zinzin is also a French slang placeholder name, a name that you call something when you don’t know or specify the actual name (like “gadget” or “thingamabob” or “whatchamacallit”).

Zinzin = entity, thing.

In this sense, Zinzin is our very own permanent placeholder name, a universal urname.

Zinzin was also French slang in the trenches of World War I as an onomatopoeic name for a mortar shell:

There are numerous onomatopoeic names for shells, such as the French zimboum and zinzin, and the British “whizbang.”

James Joyce recognized the value of this word, and coined his own meanings for it in Finnegans Wake:

Earlier, when Mamalujo set an antenna on Yawn’s forehead, the technological references were combined with numerous religious overtones, thereby suggesting that the act of communication was itself a product of metaphysical or spiritual incantation. In this instance, there is only noise: or, more specifically, “Zinzin,” which is a word repeated numerous occasions (FW 500.05, 09, 20, 26), and which is defined in one of two ways: either, as McHugh notes, a “French onomatopoetic term evoking noise,” or the word “sin.” In either case, the effect is similar to that of the “punk” reference in the previous chapter: namely, a term that disrupts (like static) the configuration of sense and reinforces the materiality of the communication.

So there you have it: noise, sin, punk, the great disruptor. Exactly how we see our mission here at Zinzin: to create powerful names that cut through the static brand blizzard of boring, forgettable names. [Here is every mention of “zinzin” in Finnegans Wake.]

In contemporary vernacular, a similar variant, zinjin, is a slang term defined by Urban Dictionary as,

A chill person. Full of creativity, enthusiasm, and motivation. Contributes to the laughter of peers, and drastically adds to the happiness of others. Extension to the word – sinjin, abbreviation for St. John.

That guy should be a Zinjin!

Here’s a great story in which a group of Portuguese students in Belgium in the early 1980s played a prank on their Belgian colleagues, who kept asking the Portuguese students to teach them Portuguese swear words, so Portuguese just made one up to represent the worst insult imaginable:

So, we decided to teach them a «fake» swear word. And we made it up: Zan-Zan Ziriban Zan-Zan or (for the french speaking people) Zin-Zin Ziribin Zin-Zin

The meaning? Unbelievably impolite. No translation possible into french words. And please!! don’t call that name to any other Portuguese!!

You would never believe it. After a couple of weeks, EVERYONE in the University «knew» (and believed it!) that the worst thing you could say to a Portuguese was: Zan-zan Ziriban Zan-Zan

…When I came back to Portugal (in 1981), The Portuguese still held the secret about the real meaning of Zan-zan Ziriban Zan-Zan. It obviously means Nothing!!

And from this, we now have an official Zinzin corporate fight song:

Zan-zan Ziriban Zan-Zan
Zan-zan Ziribin Zin
Zin-Zin Ziribin Zin-Zin
Zin-Zin Ziriban Zan

(Repeat chorus until it makes sense.)

Where do you begin when looking for a naming company adept at creating powerful company and product names? Look no further. Zinzin is here. For all things naming, we have a great willingness and desire — which, by the way, is the meaning of “zin” in Dutch!