Do You Know What the Name “IKEA” Stands For?
Oh, and you’re probably pronouncing it wrong.
After spending what feels like weeks of your life exploring the maze-like aisles of everyone’s favorite Swedish superstore, you may think you know everything there is to know about IKEA. But do you know what the store name “IKEA” actually stands for? While you may have assumed that, like the store’s thousands of hard-to-pronounce product names, IKEA is just another Swedish word, it’s actually an acronym.
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The first two letters are the initials of IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. The E stands for the farm he grew up on, Elmtaryd, and the A represents the town where the farm is located, Agunnaryd. While the store’s name may be an acronym, it’s widely known that the product names are borrowed from Swedish words. Because IKEA’s founder was dyslexic, he found it easier to categorize products with words rather than numbers, and each product category had a system of naming. For example, the dining tables all have Finnish place names, while the children’s furniture is named after animals. This way of organizing worked for Kamprad, but it continues to make ordering IKEA furniture over the phone a complicated process (go ahead, take a stab at FJÄLKINGE).
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And as far as pronouncing “IKEA” itself, we’ve been saying it wrong all along. The correct pronunciation is “ee-KAY-uh,” not “eye-kee-ah.” When the first U.S. store opened in 1985 outside of Philadelphia, they even created a billboard showing an eye, a key, and a person saying “ah,” to help Americans sound out the name. But more than 30 years later, the pronunciation key has long since been forgotten, as we’ve been left to our own devices to sound out each ASKVOLL, POÄNG, and YPPERLIG we put into our carts and bring into our homes.