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Updated: Feb 6, 2023

This blog article is meant as a companion piece to my Brand Naming Guides, specifically focusing on the guides for Invented and Associative names. These guides will be available for sale soon on my Etsy store here:

The following (very long) blog article includes basic information about sound, phonesthemes, a long list of examples, how to create your own, prefixes and suffixes, phonetics, additional information about length and complexity for your brand names, and links to more resources.

Make sure to bookmark this for further reading if you don't want to go through it all in one go!

Now, let's get started!


Have you ever heard of the kiki/bouba effect?

One of these is kiki and the other is bouba. Which one? Go with your gut reaction!

If you attributed the name kiki to the pointy shape and bouba to the rounded shape, you are amongst the 95% of people that said the same thing. It can be hard to explain why you made that choice, but sound has a big say in it.

The kiki/bouba effect shows that there is a connection between sounds and visual shapes. It was first documented by Wolfgang Köhler in 1929 using nonsense words. This implies that the introduction of words into a language (and the names of brands) are not completely arbitrary. The rounded shape may most commonly be named bouba because the mouth makes a more rounded shape to produce that sound while a more taut, angular mouth shape is needed to sound out kiki. Alternatively, the distinction may be due to the consonants used in the words.

Without getting scientific, the main lesson here is that we, as humans, naturally attribute specific shapes and objects to sounds. This is known as sound symbolism. This means that your audience will subconsciously make associations with your brand name.

And since it’s your brand name, it would be best to be in control of these associations.


A phonestheme is a particular sound or sound sequence that (at least in a general way) suggests a certain meaning.

Example. In words like glimmer and glitter, the gl- at the start is associated with vision or light.

When creating a new word or phrase, using phonesthemes will help your audience make a subconscious association. The goal is to have control of what that association is.

The following pages have been taken from an archived website by Benjamin K. Shisler, who compiled a Dictionary of English Phonesthemes. Look through the lists and associations for ideas on your brand name prefixes, suffixes, and tones. Please note that this was written in 1997, so some of the words and examples within may not be in use anymore.

Note. Here is a link to the website itself, but as it is archived, it is possible for this information to be removed from the web at any time, hence why it has been copy-pasted below. In addition, the writer has created a paper on The Influence of Phonesthesia on the English Language, which is an interesting read for more information on the topic. For further study please see the Additional resources listed at the bottom of this article, which also include other scholarly articles.

“The validity of a phonestheme is, in the first instance, contextual only if it fits the meaning of the word in which it occurs, it reinforces the meaning and, conversely, the more words in which this occurs, the more its own meaning is strengthened.” - M. L. Samuels


The Dictionary of English Phonesthemes is extremely long. You don't have to read through every page or every single entry included in it. If you are inventing a name or looking for interesting prefixes and suffixes, you can browse through those sections only, which includes:

  • Initial clusters (prefixes and start of the word)

  • Final clusters (suffixes and end of the word)

  • Vowels

These terms have been reorganized from the original document to be in alphabetical order. In addition, I have removed all unclassified phonesthemes to keep the list shorter for you and to ensure that you find meaning behind your choices.

Note. The /?/ at the beginning is the sound or letter that begins the phonestheme.

Lastly, although this list is quite extensive, it is not complete. There are more phonesthemes in the English language that you can find on your own and use.


This dictionary is a collection of all the English phonesthemes known to the author. This dictionary clearly shows that phonesthetic sound symbolism is prevalent in the English language.

Many of the entries in this dictionary were directly copied from Marchand’s book, The Categories and Types of Present-day English Word-Formation. Entries and instances were also gleaned from Hinton’s, Nichols’s and Ohala’s book, Sound Symbolism. Phonesthemes are most active in simplex words. A simplex word is a either a monosyllabic word or a bisyllabic word with the accent on the first syllable. To aid me on my hunt for phonestheme instances, I wrote a UNIX script to help me pick out simplex words from customized electronic dictionary. Then I wrote a script to sort the words by pronunciation. I was thus able to automate most of the tedium involved in hunting down candidate words. As I was unable to automate the hunt for semantic similarities, there was still great deal of labor involved, particularly since my electronic dictionary has only very limited semantic information. In the future, I plan on learning how to access the WordNet, an extensive and free electronic word database.

This dictionary includes many obscure and archaic words. These words can be inherently interesting on their own and, moreover, they can illuminate interconnections among modern words that might not otherwise be apparent.

Although this dictionary appears to be a fairly comprehensive compilation, I believe that I’ve discovered only a small set of the phonestheme instances contained the English lexicon. This dictionary is a mere skeleton of what it could be and, fate allowing, I’ll be adding to it for the rest of my life. Lyrics, poetry, well-written prose, dictionary browsing, and, of course, deipnosophy among unashamed logophiles can all trigger mind-expanding phonesthetic epiphanies; I look forward to many future hours of word grooving.

Initial cluster phonesthemes

/B/ imitative of sound made when mouth is opened, softened explosion of sound. /B/ barks, bellows, burps, babbles, buzzes, bawls. /B/ bounces, boings, bumps, bangs, and bashes. /B/ movement, with anchored path. Bob (strike, rap, tap), bang, bump, bum (strike, knock, thump), bash, bubble, burble (bubble), bounce, bungle, botch, burn. /B/ sound with abrupt, relatively loud onset bark, bell, bellow, belch, burp, babble, bumble (buzz), buzz, boom (hum, buzz), bum (hum loudly), bawl, bow- wow, bleat, boh, bo, boo, booh, bull, bat (strike), buss (kiss), bang, beep, boing, bonk (have casual sex with), big bang, bomb, bing, bingo [thanks to jack mcgrath ], bash, bang, boom, bop, bing, biff, boing, bounce, bong, bonk, beep. /Bl/ blowing, blowing up, or swelling. Blow, blast, bladder, blain (chilbain), blaze (blow), blister, bluster, blurt, blore (violent blowing), blizzard, blam, blug. /Bl/ imitative of the sound of a bubble. /Bl/ blows, blazes, and blisters as a blizzard. /Bl/ bleats, blurts, blubbers, and blabs /bl/ is a blot, a blob, a blister and a bleb. /Bl/ swelling of the lips. Blubber (bubble up, give forth bubbling sound), blob, blot, blub (swell, puff out), blabber (bubble, mumble), blabber-lipped (with protruding lips), blobber-lipped (with protruding lips), blab (chatterer), blob (mark with a blob or ink or color), bleb, blab (blister). /Bl/ vocal, air-induced sound. Bleat (bleat, cry piteously as a child), blather, blatter (speak or prate volubly), blate (babble, prate), blat (bleat), blast, blab, bleep. /Br/ brashly brawls and brabbles as a brat. /Br/ unpleasant noise. Brack (noise, outcry), brag (brack), brawl, brabble (brawl), brangle (brawl, wrangle), brash (sickness arising from disorder of alimentary canal; sudden dash of rain), brat, brake. /C/ low pitch sound with poorly resolvable onset. Thunder, thud (gust of wind), thump, thunk. /C/ metallic or glass sounds. Chime, chink (sound of metal or glass), chug (sound of oil-engine, etc. When running slowly). /C/ short path. Chop. /C/ sound with irregular onset. Chirp, cheep, chitter, chatter. /C/ symbol not older than middle english /c/ chatters, chit-chats, chirps, cheeps, chirrs, chuckles, and chortles. /C/ chimes, chinks, and chugs. /C/ thunders, thuds, thunks, and thumps. /C/ vocal sound of small animals, especially birds. Chirk, chough (crow), chatter, chitter {ablaut variant of chatter}, chat, chit-chat, chap (crack, jaw), chip {ablaut variant of chap}, chop {ablaut variant of chop}, chirp, chirrup, chirt, chirr (trill like a grasshopper), chirl (warble), chuck (cluck), chuckle, cheep (used of birds and mice), chipper (twitter, babble, chatter), chit (name of bird), chiff-chaff (name of a bird), chink (fit of coughing), champ (chew), chomp {variant of champ}, chank {variant of champ}, chock {variant of shock}, chuck (give a gentle blow under the chin), {variant of chock}. /Cr/ throbs, throttles, throws and thrusts. /Cw/ obstruction. Thwart, thwack, thwing, thwittle, thwaite (forest land cleared and converted to tillage; a piece of land used as a meadow), thwertnick (according to old english law, entertaining a sheriff for three nights). /D/ dashes, dabs, dapples, dithers. /D/ dangles, dodders, and dandles. /D/ is a dead, dull, dumpy dud. /D/ sound produced by dull stroke against a body. Din, dash (strike, smash), dump (fall heavily), dab (soft blow), dabble (frequentative of dab, paddle, besputter), dib, dibble, ding (knock, hammer), ding-dong, dod (beat), dindle (tinkle, ring, tingle as with cold or pain), dingle, dud. /D/ swinging movement. Ding-dong, dangle, dandle (move lightly up and down. /D/ unsteady movement. Didder (quake, quiver), dither, diddle, dodder, daddle (walk totteringly), dapple. /Dr/ drips, dribbles, drools, dredges, drizzles, drops, droops, and drags with the dross, dregs and the dreck. /Dr/ dropping and driving. Drivel, dross, draw, drive, drop, drip, drain, droop, dregs, drag, draggle (frequentative of drag), drib, dribble, dripple, drizzle, drown, drink, drench, drive, dreck, drek {variant of dreck}. /Dr/ liquid motion. Drink, drain, drizzle, drop, droop, dredge, drool. /Dr/ sound. Drum, drawl /F/ fizzes, fizzles, fuddles, fidgets, fusses, and farts. /F/ is fond of phatic phonics. /F/ hissing. Fart, fizzle (break wind quietly), fuzz (loose volatile matter), fuss, fizz (make a hissing or sputtering sound), famble (stammer), faffle (stutter), fumble {variant of famble}, fuddle (tipple, booze, muddle), fidge (fidget, twitch), fidget. /Fl/ flutters, flaps, flies, flits, flitters, floats, flows, and flushes in a flurry of fluid. /Fl/ flipflops, flickers, flares, and flags. /Fl/ liquid motion. Fly, flow, flush, flood, fluid, flee. /Fl/ movement, flying, flowing. Flee, fleet, float, flicker, flow, flutter, fly, flit, flush, fling, flap {originally slap}, flash, flack (flap, flutter), flacker, flick, fluster, flatter (float, flutter), flitter (flit, flutter) {variant of flatter}, flirt, flip, flop, flurry, flump, flunk, flare, flag {probably variant of flack}, flaught (a spark; a snowflake; a handful; a flight or flutter; a roll of wool; lying with outstretched arms; eagerly). /Fl/ two-dimensionality. Flap, flat, floor. /Fn/ panting, heavy breath. Fnast (pant, breath), fnese (breath heavily, snore), fnord. /Fw/ intensified /w/. /G/ gushes, gabs, giggles, and guffaws. /G/ gurgles, gargles, guzzles, and gobbles. /G/ throat. Gulch (swallow, devour greedily), gulp, gush, gaggle, giggle, gabble (jabber), gobble (said of turkey cock), gurgle, guggle, guttle (eat greedily), guzzle (swallow liquor greedily), gargle, gulch (ravine, cleft), gab (talk), gob (talk), gob (mouth, beak), guff (puff, whiff), guffaw, gong {malay} /Gl/ gladness. Glad {from ohg glat=smooth}, glee, gleg {from on gloggr=clear-sighted} (quick, sharp), glaikit [gle. Kut] (foolish, giddy), glaiket {variant of glaikit}. /Gl/ glitters, gleams, glimmers, glistens, glows, glares, and glimpses into the gloom. /Gl/ gloms, glops, and globs as glue. /Gl/ light, shine. Glass, gleam, gleed (live coal), glisten, glow, glare, glary (having a dazzling brightness; glaring), glent (glean, shine), glimmer, glimpse, glister (glisten), glitter, glim (shine, gleam), gloat, gloss, gloze (gloss), glaze {from gaze, glare, glance}, glint {ablaut variant of glent} (of rays of light, to strike reflecting surface obliquely and dart out at an angle), glance, glim (glimmer, something that furnishes light; illumination), glory. /Gl/ oversupply, secretion, stickiness. Glut (to swallow greedily; an oversupply), glutton, glom (take, steal, seize, catch), glop (jumbled or messy mass or mixture), glob, globe, glue, gluteus (any of the large muscles of the buttocks), glyc- (sugar; glycine), glair {l claris=clear} (a sizing liquid made from egg white; a viscid substance suggestive of an eggwhite), glaire {variant of glair} gleet (a chronic inflammation of a bodily orifice usu accompanied by abnormal discharge), gland {l glan=acorn}, glanders (contagious and destructive disease esp of horses), glans {l=acorn} (conical vascular body forming extremity of penis), glitch (an unwanted brief surge of electric power; malfunction; minor technical problem). /Gl/ sliding, smooth, slippery. Glabella (the smooth prominence between the eyebrows), glabrous (having a surface without hairs or projections), glacé (made or finished so as to have a smooth glossy surface), glacier, glacial (extremely cold; frigid), glaciate (freeze; cover with a glacier), glacis [glasi ] (a gentle slope, incline, a slope that runs downward from a fortification; buffer state; buffer zone), glide, glissade (to slide in a standing or squatting position down a snow-covered slope without the aid of skis), glissando. /Gl/ sword. Gladiator, glaive (sword; broadsword). /Gl/ twilight, contempt. Gloaming (twilight, dusk), gloam {backformation from gloaming} (twilight), gloom, glum (look sullen) {probable ablaut variation of gloom}, glare, glout (frown, scowl), glower {from glow, glare, glance, lower} (to look or stare with sullen annoyance), glib, gloat, gleek (to make a jibe or jest). /Gl/ words deriving from ie root *gerbh, to carve. Glamour {from grammar}, glyph (non-verbal symbol), glyptic (the art or process of carving or engaging esp on gems). /Gr/ deep-toned, grumbling, inimical, or menacing noises. Grin, grunt, grim, grimly, growl, gruntle, grumble, gruff, groin, grutch, grudge (grumble), grum (glum, harsh), grouse (grumble). /Gr/ grip. Grip, gripe, grope, grab, grabble, grapple, grasp /Gr/ probably sound imitative. /Gr/ grumbles gruffly, gripes, grouses, growls and grimly grabs, gropes and grapples. /H/ hushes, hisses, huffs, hems and haws, hoots, honks, howls, and hums. /H/ rimes. Humdrum, helter-skelter, hubble- bubble, hurdy-gurdy. /H/ sound and exclamation. Ha, ho, hoop, heh, heigh, heigh-ho, hee-haw, huh, hmmm, hrmm, hoot, hum, humble (hum), hiss, hush, howl, hizz (make a whining noise) {variant of hiss}, honk. /H/ sound of phoneme. Hiss, hush, hum, huff, hish, hizz, huss, huzz. /H/ sudden, jerky movement. Hop, hip {ablaut variant of hop}, hobble, hack, hag (variant of hack), hackle {frequentative of hack}, haggle (cut, mangle by cutting) {frequentative of hag}, higgle {ablaut variant of haggle}, hitch, hug, huff (puff, swell). /J/ emotion. Jingle, jangle (chatter, babble, dispute, wrangle; jingle harshly) {variant of jingle}, jabber (gabble), jowl (joll), jowl (toll a bell, bump), jumble (make a rumbling noise), jump (the noise of jumping), jar (make a harsh, grating sound), jug (imitation of one of the notes of the nightingale), gibber {ablaut variation of jabber}, jibber {ablaut variation of jabber}, jam, jazz, jeer, jest (feat, tale of a feat, idle tale, jeer), jesus!. /J/ jerky movement with short path. Jag (pierce, prick; sharp projection), jog (shake with a jerk), joggle {frequentative of jog}, jiggle {ablaut variation of joggle}, jig (lively dance), jiggle (move backwards and forwards), jigger (make a succession of rapid jerks), jigget (jig, hop, skip about) {influenced by fidget}, jerk, jink (jerk, quick turn; used in wwii for maneuvering aircraft), job, jab (stab, prod, poke) {variant of job}, jib (pull a sail), jounce, jagged. /J/ loud, vocal sounds. Yell, yelp, yex, yesk (sob, hiccup, belch), yo-ho, yow (exclamation), yowl, yawl (cry of pain, grief, distress) {variant of yowl}, yawp (yelp, cry harshly), yammer, yap (bark sharply), yaffle (name of green woodpecker), yah (exclamation of disgust), yaw-haw (guffaw), yaw-yaw (talk affectedly), yoho (exclamation to call attention), yoicks (fox-hunting cry urging on the hounds), yoop (sound of convulsive sobbing), yow (cry of cat or dog), yep (a call to urge a horse), yip (cheep as a young bird), yipe, yatter, yak. /J/ no coinages before about 1300 /j/ jingles, jangles, jibbers, jabbers, jars, jumbles, jeers, and jests. /J/ jabs, jags, jogs, jumps, jerks, jounces, and jiggles. /J/ yells, yelps, yaps, yaks, yatters, and yammers. /K/ associated with indo-european root *kal or *kla). /K/ calls, coughs, cackles, kicks, cuffs, and kisses. /K/ movement. Cuff (strike with the fist or with the open hand, buffet), kick. /K/ vocal sounds. Call, cow (after the sound), kiss, chough (crow), cackle, cough, cuckoo, caw, coo, kink (gasp for breath, whooping-cough), cack (excrement). /Kl/ clatters, clamors, clicks, clacks, clangs, clumps, clamps, clomps, clops, and clunks. /Kl/ sound with somewhat abrupt onset. Clatter, clack, clamber, clamor (bell-ringing), clam (clang of bells), cluck, clash, click, clang, clank, clump (tread heavily), clink-clank, clamp (variant of clump), clomp (clump), cloop (sound of a cork drawn from a bottle), clip (cut), clop, clunk. /Kr/ germanic symbol for twistedness. /Kr/ cracks, creaks, croaks, crashes, crushes, crackles, crunches, cricks, and cronks. /Kr/ crumples, crumps, crimps, cringes, cranks, crimps, creeps, crawls, and crouches. /Kr/ jarring, harsh, grating sound, with abrupt, irregular onset. Crow, crane, crack, creak, crook (croak), crake, crush, crash, croak, crackle, crick- crack (repeated sharp sound), crunk (utter a hoarse, harsh cry, said of birds), crick (sound of grasshopper or the like), crunkle (cry like a crane, frequentative of crunk), crunch, craunch (crunch), cronch (crunch), crank (make a jarring or grating sound), cronk (cry of the wild goose), crumb (sound of a bursting bomb or shell). /Kr/ twistedness, crookedness, distortion. Crumpled (crooked, curled), crump (curl up), cramp, crimp (shrink, curl), crank, cringe, crinkle, crunkle (crinkle), crankle (run zigzag), crinkle-crankle (wind in and out), crick (spasm of the muscles), creep, crawl, crouch, crisp (curl, twist). /Kw/ harsh bird sounds. Quack, quackle, qua- bird (the night heron of north america). /Kw/ quakes, quivers, quavers, and quacks. /Kw/ quaking, quivering, shaking. Quetch, quake, quern (handmill for grinding grain), quave, quake, quaver, quiver (ablaut variation of quaver), quag {from quagmire}, quash (shake, crush, quell). /M/ animal sounds. Mew (utter the sound [mju]), moo, miaow. /M/ feelings characterized by particular position of mouth or lips. Mop (make a grimace), mow (make a grimace), mope (be listless) {probably variation of mop}, miff (fit of ill-humor), miffed, miminy-piminy, mizzle (drizzle), mad, mood, muddle, mean. /M/ movements of mouth, muttering sounds. Murmur, murr (a form of catarrh), mutter, mumble, mum, munch, mump. /M/ murmurs, mutters, mumbles, mews, moos, and munches. /M/ mopes in a mad, muddled, miffed, mean mood /m/ is mired in milky marshy muck, mucus, and merde. /M/ shapelessness, liquid. Mud, mush, mire, marsh, muck, milk, mucus, micturate, mulch, merde, mutate. /P/ affection. Peck, pine (yearn; long for one’s lover), pamper (pet), penchant (tendency; bias; fondness; leaning; liking), pinch, pander (a go between in love intrigues; a man who solicits clients for a prostitute; some who caters to or exploits the weaknesses of others; to povide gratification for other’s desires; lecher; pimp), namby-pamby (weak, indecisive). /P/ anchored path or movement. Push, pop, pull, pump, put, pass, path, pick, peck, pop, pad (dull sound of steps), punt, pan. /P/ birds. Penguin, parrot, pigeon, peacock, partridge, puttock (the european kite; the buzzard; the marsh harrier; a greedy person; a sponger), pipit, paauw (the south african bustard), pen (swan). /P/ contempt. Punk, pimp, patch (fool), peacenik, pud (a child’s hand; an animal’s forefoot; the penis), palliard (a tricky beggar whose parents were also tricky beggars), pap (soft, mashed, or semiliquid food for babies or invalids; political patronage; vapid literature, etc. With no intellectual content; drivel) pig (police officer), padnag (a horse with a pad instead of a saddle; an ambling nag; to ride such a horse; to amble), pangut (one who is all gut), patsy (a person who is easily manipulated or victimized; sucker), puttock (the european kite; the buzzard; the marsh harrier; a greedy person; a sponger), pest, pyrite, pinchback (imitation gold made from an alloy of copper and zinc; something phony; a cheap imitation), purblind (partly blind; lacking insight or understanding), puerile, ponzi (an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks), poger (a passive homosexual), piddle (trifle; diddle; to pick at one’s food; eat like a bird; dawdle; putter; urinate), pingle (to fiddle or trifle with one’s food, showing little interest or appetite), paddle (trifle), peddle (trifle, dally), pain, pish, pablum, piss, poop, penis, pecker, putz (penis), pizzle (a whip made from an animal’s penis; the penis itself); /P/ energy, strength, power (see also /pw/) passion, pep, peppy, pith, pert, perk, pomp, power, peerless, pucka (solid; genuine), posture, pyknic (short, stocky, rotund; endomorphic), python, punchy (forceful; spirited). /P/ explosive sounds with an abrupt onset pop, peep, ping, pow, pitter, patter, peal, puff, ping, ping- pong, pang, pom-pom (machine gun), put-put (old car). /P/ explosive vocal sounds. Pipe, peep, puff, poof, purr, purl (gentle murmuring or bubbling sound like the water of a shallow stream flowing over stones), pop, pash (dash, smash), pat (dab), patter (the quick talk or chatter of a comedian or entertainer, salesman, etc; the slang or private language used by a particular group or class; to repeat mechanically without considering the meaning; to talk volubly but without much sense) {from paternoster}, pitter (make small sounds like a grasshopper), puke. /P/ head, brain. Pash (head), pate (head, brain), pan (face), brainpan, pons (band of nerve fibers through which impulses between various parts of the brain). /P/ imitative of parting the lips. /P/ is a powerful, poignant, piercing plosive that can pop, punch, puff, and pounce. /P/ is a pale, pious, pitiful, piddling, paltry, petty pest. /P/ ostentation, decoration. Pious, parvis (a courtyard; a public brouhaha, so called from being held in a church parvis), pompous, pistic (pure; genuine; pertaining to faith), pennant (any of various nautical flags tapering usually to a point or swallowtail and used for identification or signaling; a flag or banner longer in the fly than in the hoist especially one that tapers to a point; a flag emblematic of championship), pendant (drooping; something suspended), pageant, palace, paraph (a flourish at the end of a signature, once used as a protection against forgery), purfle (an ornamental border or trim), piss-proud (having a false erection, said of an old man with a young wife), pecksniff (a hypocritical, unctuous, selfish, devious rascal who preaches virtue). /P/ pity, paleness. Pale, pall (altar cloth; something that casts a gloom over an area by covering it; pallium; glut; to cause to be interesting or attractive), pule (whine, whimper), palliate (o reduce the violence of; to cover by excuses and apologies; to moderate the intensity of) {from l pallium=cloak}, pallid (pale; wan; faint or deficient in colour lacking in vitality or interest; ashen), pity, pathos, pathic (a catamite; a passive participator; passive; suffering), passive, peccant (sinning; sinful; faulty; wrong; peccable; guilty of moral offense; violating a rule; liable to break certain social rules; incorrect; inducing disease; guilty of a moral offense), peccable, pensive (musingly, dreamingly, or sadly thoughtful, reflective, speculative, contemplative, or meditative), perish, peril, petty, peasant, pittance (thing of little value; a small portion, amount, or allowance), paltry (trivial; petty; inferior; trashy; mean; despicable; trivial; piddling), piddling, pauper. /P/ plant part, etc. Pip, pit, pulp, pod, palm, pickle, pomace (the dry or pulpy residue of material (as fruit, seeds, or fish) from which a liquid (as juice or oil) has been pressed or extracted; something crushed to a pulpy mass), pistil (the ovule-bearing organ of a seed plant consisting of the ovary with its appendages), pinder (peanut), peanut, pinda (a ball of rice offered to hindu ancestors; the west indian peanut), pumpkin, peach. /P/ weapons, fighting, war. Poniard (a thin dagger), puncheon (a dagger; a barrel; a carved stamp used by gold smiths; a split log with a smooth face; a marble-working tool), pike (spear, stake, to wound, pierce, or kill by a pike), poke, parry (to ward off a blow; repel; avert; prevent), petard (small explosive device used by military engineers in medieval times to undermine castle walls, break down draw bridges, etc; a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall; firework), pavis (a large shield of the middle ages; to protect with a pavis), pandy (a hit on the hand; to hit on the hand), posse, potshot, pistol, pummel (strike), picket, pillage, pommel (the knob on the hilt of a sword or saber; the protuberance at the front and top of a saddle; either of a pair of removable rounded or u-shaped handles used on the top of a pommel horse; pummel; strike), punish, pyrrhic (achieved at excessive cost; costly to the point of negating or outweighing expected benefits; a metrical foot consisting of two short or unaccented syllables). /P/ words deriving from the ie root *peuk (prick) impugn (to challenge the integrity or veracity of; attack; to assail by words or arguments, as statements, motives, veracity, etc.; Call in question; challenge as false), expunge (cancel; remove; to strike out, obliterate, or mark for deletion; annihilate; delete; edit; rub out), pugilist, pugilistic, pygmy, pungent (having a stiff and sharp point; sharply painful; poignant; caustic; stinging; pointed; telling; causing a sharp or irritated sensation; racy; savory; spicy), pounce (claw; to swoop upon and seize something with or as if with talons; a fine powder formerly used to prevent ink from spreading; a fine powder for making stenciled patterns; emboss; sprinkle), poignant (intense; penetrating; painful; pathetic; piercing; pungent), point, puncture, punctuate, fuck {hypothetical}. /Pl/ dull impact, chiefly in connection with water. Plump, plunge, plash, plod (walk heavily), plop (drop into water without splashing), plap, plodge (walk in mud, water, plunge), pluff (strong puff), plip, ploosh. /Pl/ sounds with a less abrupt onset. Plink, plop, plunk, plash. /Pl/ symbol no older than middle english /pl/ is plump and plops, plunges, and plashes. /Pr/ in some words, a variant of /br/. /Pr/ pricks, prickles, and prods. /Pr/ prates, prattles, and preaches. /Pr/ pricking, sharpness. Prick, prickle (a thing to prick with), prong, prang (pang), prod, proke prog. /Pr/ unpleasant or lively noise. Prate, prattle, pribble, prabble (variant of brabble), preach. /Pw/ power, strength. Poilu (a man of great strength and power), puissance, puissant. /Pw/ see also /p/. /Q/ adverbs, etc. That’d, that’ll, that, that’s, them, then, thence, there’ll, there’re, their, there, they’re, thereby, there’d, therefore, there’ve, therewithal, theirs, there’s, thestreen, theretofore, thereinafter, thenceforth, thereabout, thereabouts, thereinbefore, thereupon, themself, themselves, thenceforward, thenceforwards, thereafter, thereat, therein, thereinto, thereunder, thereon, therefor, therefrom, thereto, therewith, this’ll, this, this’ll, thur, thao, thau, thou, thous, they, they’d, they’ll, they’ve, thereunto, thee, thesing, these, the, theus, though, those, the, thus, thusly, that, thy, thine, theis. /R/ loud, noisy, vibrating sounds. Ring (clear sound of hard metal), rattle, roar, rap, ram, rumble, rustle, rabble (speak in a rapid, confused manner), rough (cough), ruckle (rattle in the the throat), rat-tat, rub-a- dub, row-dow-dow (imitation of sound of drum), row-de-dow (din), razzle-dazzle, rash (dash, rush), run, rush (dash) {variant of rash}, rip, rollick, romp, racket (disturbance, loud noise, uproar) {onomatopoeic or from gaelic racaid}. /R/ rings, rattles, rustles, raps, roars, and rumbles. /R/ wrenches, wrests, wrestles, wrings, wrinkles, and wriggles. /R/ twisting, distortion. Wrench, wrest, wrestle, wring, wrinkle, wriggle, reach. /S/ flexibility, two-dimensionality. Sheet, sheer. /S/ frictional noise, intake of breath, dripping or trickling of liquids. Suck, sigh, soak, sup, sop, sipe (ooze, drip), sip {variant of sop or sup}, seep (ooze) {variant of sip}, siss (hiss), sizz (burn, brand, hiss, sizzle), sizzle souse (heavy blow, thump, strike), sock (beat), sussing. /S/ not very productive /s/ shambles, shakes, shocks, shushes, and shoos. /S/ quietude, exclamation. Shush, shish, sheesh, shoot, shucks, shit, shafted. /S/ sucks, soaks, sops, sips, seeps, sizzles, and sighs. /Sfr/ engraved seals. Sphragistic (pertaining to engraved seals), sphragistics (study of engraved seals), sphragide (???), Sphragis (body???, Image of seal???). /Sfr/ extremely rare. /Sk/ flexibility and two-dimensionality. Scarf, skin, skein. /Sk/ quick, brisk movement. Scour (rush violently), skip, scope (skip), scuttle, scutter, scoot, helter-skelter, skedaddle, scamper, skirr (run away hastily), scurry, scuffle (scrambling fight, tussle), scud. /Sk/ scuffles, skips, scuttles, scoots, scampers, scurries, and skedaddles. /Skr/ eke out, struggle. Scrabble, scrimp, scrape, scratch, scrounge, screw. /Skr/ irregular movement. Scrape, scratch, scrub, scramble, scriggle (wriggle, struggle), scribble, scrabble (scribble, scrawl), scrawl. /Skr/ scrapes, scritches, screams, screeches, and scrunches. /Skr/ scrubs, scrambles, scribbles, and scrawls. /Skr/ unpleasant, acoustically complex sound. Scrape, scritch (screech, shriek), scream, screak (screech), screech, scranch (crunch), scraunch (crunch), scroop (creak, squeak), scrunch. /Skw/ discordant, eruptive sound. Squeal, squeak, squash (quash), squall (scream discordantly) {variant of squeal}, squish {variant of squash}, squidge {variant of squish}, squitter, squirt, squawk (cry with a harsh note), squirk (half-suppressed laugh, squeak), squank (the sound of a fart). /Skw/ squeals, squeaks, squawks, squirks, and squanks. /Skw/ squirts, squabbls, squiggles, squirms, and squeezes. /Skw/ violent, distorted movement. Squirt, squabble (wrangle, brawl), squirr, squiggle, squirm, squeeze. /Sl/ contempt. Schlang (snake; penis), schlong {variant of schlang}, schlenter (imitation diamond), schlepp (to move with difficulty or reluctance), schlep {variant of schlepp}, shlep {variant of schlepp}, schlock (something of poor quality or inferior construction), schlocky (worthless), schlemiel, schlungerfunger (snake chaser; homosexual; slut), shlub, shlump, shlock {variant of schlock}, shlimazel. /Sl/ falling blow. Slay, slaughter, slit, sling (hurl, throw), slash, slap, slam, slog (strike hard). /Sl/ slides, slithers, slips, slogs, slumps, and slouches. /Sl/ slays, slaughters, slits, slashes, slings, slams, and slaps. /Sl/ is slime, slough, slobber, slop, slush, and sludge. /Sl/ sliding movement. Slide, slidder (cause to slip), slither {variant of slidder}, slive, slip, slouch {through slouch-eared}, slump. /Sl/ slime, slush, liquid. Slime, slough (muddy ground), slip (soft, semi-liquid mass, curdled milk), slop (muddy place) {variant of slip}, slobber (slime, slush) {variant of slop}, slub (sludy mud), slush, sludge, slutch (slush, mud) {variant of sludge}, slosh, slurry, sluice. /Sl/ slowness. Slow, slog, slump, slack, slip, sludge, slumber, sleep, slowth (slow economic growth). /Sm/ contempt. Schmooze, schmaltz, schmuck, shmuck, schmeer, schmo, shmo, shmutz, shmegege, shmek. /Sm/ distastefulness. Smack, smash, smurf, smegma, smut, smoosh, smear, smell. /Sm/ is a shmaltzy schmuck and a schmoozing schmo. /Sm/ smashes, smacks, smooshes, smears, and smells of smut and smegma. /Sm/ yinglish symbol. /Sn/ contempt. Schnapps, schnell (fast), schnitz (cut-up and dried apples), schnook (an easy mark), shnook, schnorrer (scoundrel, smooth talker, professional unapologetic panhandler). /Sn/ nose and mouth. Schnorkel (snorkle), schnozzle, schnoz, schnauzkrampf (a mouth that looks more like a snout), schnauzer (a short haired terrier of a german breed, with a heavy head, heavy eyebrows and beard, and small ears). /Sn/ snarls, sneers, snickers, sniffles, sniffs, sneezes, and snorts with a snide, snooty snout. /Sn/ sneakiness sneak, snitch, snoop, snide. /Sn/ sound and movement of mouth, nose, and face. Snite (clean the nose), snout, snatch, snack, snap, sniff, snore, snort {intensified snore}, snot (mucus of the nose, snuff of the candle), snivel, sneeze, sneer, snuff, snarl, snar (snarl, growl), snicker, snigger {variant of snicker}, sniffle, snip {variant of nip or ablaut variant of snap}, sneap (nip, pinch) {variant of snap}, snick (snip, nick) {variant of nick, influenced by snip}, sneer, snide, snooty. /Sn/ yinglish symbol. /Sp/ contempt, blemish. Spam, spud, sped, spic (slur for spanish american), spazz, spoof, special, spy, spendthrift, spoffish (fussy, bustling), spoffskins (a woman with a dubious sexual history who shacks up with a man and poses as his wife), spotty, spoiled, spent, specious, spurious, spinster (bachelorette), spintry (male whore), spitball, sparse, spare, spot, spall (a small fragment or chip especially of stone; to break off chips, scales, or slabs; exfoliate; to undergo spallation), spatchcock (a bird split and grilled immediately after being killed; to prepare a bird like this; to interpolate a phrase; to add by interpolation; a hastily constructed argument), speck, speckled, spackle (powder mixed with water to form a paste and used as a filler for cracks in a surface before painting, to apply spackle). /Sp/ energy, life, jet movement. Spang (spring, leap; to a complete degree; in an exact or direct manner; squarely), spank, spunk (spark; spririted courage; punk), spong (comic sound effect), speed, spice, spirit, spite (petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; malice; to treat maliciously; annoy; offend), spark, sparkle, spangle (a small plate of shining metal or plastic used in ornamentation esp on clothing; small glittering object or particle; to glitter as if covered by spangles; sparkle), spawn, spore, sperm, spasm (a sudden, violent, involuntary contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles, attended by pain and interference with function, producing involuntary movement and distortion; a sudden but transitory constriction of a passage, canal or orifice), spartle (flounder, kick, or flail about). /Sp/ indo-european symbol. /Sp/ spits, spouts, spurts, sputters, spews, and speaks. /Sp/ is a spike, a spire, a spur, a spine, and a spear. /Sp/ sparkles with spunk, spice, speed, and spirit. /Sp/ specially spoils with spud, spam, spackle, and spatula. /Sp/ speaking. Speak, speech, spiel, sputter, spill the beans. /Sp/ spikiness. Spine, spike, spire, spur (a pointed device secured in a rider’s heel and used to urge the horse; recognition and reward for achievement; a goad to action; stimulus; something projecting like or suggesting a spur; a projecting root or branch of a tree; a stiff sharp spine (as on the wings or legs of a bird or insect); one on a cock’s leg; a gaff for a gamecock; a hollow projecting appendage of a corolla or calyx (as in larkspur or columbine); climbing iron; a ridge or lesser elevation that extends laterally from a mountain or mountain range; a hastey impulse; to urge on with as if with spurs; to incite to action or accelerated growth or development; stimulate; to put spurs on), spear. /Sp/ spit, spew, reject. Spew, spit, spittle (saliva), spat, spurn (to reject with disdain; refuse contemptuously; scorn; the act of spurning; a kick), spout, spurt, spirt, (issue in a jet, squirt), spatter, spattle, spirtle, sputter (to spit or squirt from the mouth with explosive sounds), spawl (spit coursely), spurtle (burst out, squirt), spat (start up sharply), sput, spung, spong, spume, sputum, spill, sparge (to make moist by sprinkling “the gentle rain ~ed the parched fields”). /Spl/ jet movement, impact, splash. Splash, splatter, splatch (splash, patch of color), splat (pat, slap, spat), splosh (splash), splodge (trudge or plod splashily through water), splunge (plunge) splurge (ostentatious display), splotch (blend of blotch and spot) splodge (clumsy splotch), splinter, splow, splush, sploodge (to eject semen). /Spl/ modern symbol, combination of /pl/ and /sp/. /Spl/ splashes, splatters, splinters, and splurges. /Spr/ acoustically complex sound. Sproing, sproink. /Spr/ spiritedness, energy. Sprightly, spry, springy, spree, sprint. /Spr/ spreading, springing. Spread, sprout, spring, sprawl, springle (sprinkle), sprinkle, besprinkle, bespring (besprinkle), spreng (sprinkle), bespreng (besprinkle), spray. /Spr/ springs, sprouts, spreads, sprawls, sprays, and sprinkles. /Sr/ holiness, law, banking. Shrine, shrive, shrieve (variant of shrive), shriver (confessor), shrift (act of shriving), shrove tuesday, shroom (psychedelic mushroom, to ingest psychedelic mushrooms) sri (fortunate, glorious, beautiful, majestic, and holy; conventional title of respect when addressing or speaking of a distinguished indian) {sanskrit}, shri (variant of sri), shree (variant of sri) shrievalty (the office or jurisdiction of a sheriff), shrewd, shroff (to inspect coins, a bank expert who fixes coin valiues, moneychanger, banker), schreinerize (polish). /Sr/ mysterious action. Shroud, shrug, shred (evidence). /Sr/ shrieks and shreds like shrill shrapnel. /Sr/ shrinkage. Shrink, shrinkage, shrivel. /Sr/ shrubbery or trimming. Shred, shragger (a tree trimmer), shrub, shrubbery. /Sr/ unpleasant sound or horribleness. Shream (scream), shriek, shrieky, shrill, shrew, shrewish, shrapnel {eponymous}, schrik (a sudden fright or panic), schrecklichkeit (horror, horribleness, devilishness, terribleness). /St/ arrest. Stall, stay, steady, stick, stop, stub, stump, stanch, stable, staunch. /St/ implacableness, rigidity. Starchy, steely, stern, stiff-necked, strait-laced, strict, stubborn, stuffy. /St/ indo-european symbol. /St/ is stable, stalwart, staunch, steadfast, steady, stolid, stout, and sturdy. /St/ is starchy, steely, stern, stiff-necked, staunch, stubborn, and stuffy. /St/ stalls, stays, sticks, stops, stubs, stumps, and stanches. /St/ stamps, stampedes, starts, startles, steps, stimulates, stings, stirs, stomps, storms, and stuns. /St/ movement, attacking. Stamp, stampede, start, startle, step, stimulate, sting, stir, stomp, stab, stamp, stick, sting, storm, stun. /St/ one-dimensionality. Stick, staff, stem, stud. /St/ reliability, steadfastness. Stable, stalwart, staunch, steadfast, steady, stolid, stout, sturdy, state. /St/ standing and stepping. Stand, step, stead, sty, stumble, stamp, stomp, stodge (stuff, gorge), stash, (stop abruptly). /St/ yinglish symbol. /Str/ effort against obstruction. Strain, stress, stretch, strive, struggle, stricture, restrict, constrict, obstruct, strong, strength. /Str/ movement, attacking. Stray, stream, stride, stroll, strut, strafe. /Str/ straddles, strolls, struts, strikes, and strafes. /Str/ strives to struggle against stress, strain, and stricture with strength. /Str/ straddles, straggles, strands, streams, stretches, strews, and strings out. /Str/ stretching out, scattering. Straddle, straggle, strand, stray, stream, stretch, strew, string out. /Str/ striding. Straddle, stroddle (straddle), striddle (straddle), stroll, struggle, strum, strike. /Sw/ acoustically complex sound. Swish, swoosh, swack, swat. /Sw/ drink, tipple. Swig (drink, liquor), swinge (drink), swink, swipe, swizzle. /Sw/ intensified /w/. /Sw/ movement through air or water. Sway, sweep, swerve, swim, swing, swish, swivel, swoosh, swan, swallow, swift. /Sw/ swiftly sweeps, swings, sways, swirls, swims, swoops, swerves, and swooshes. /Sw/ swinging, swaying. Sweep, swing, swingle, swag (move unsteadily, sway, wag), sway, swap (smite, strike), swip, swirl, swagger (frequentative of swag), swinge (brandish, whirl, flog), swat, swash, (pigwash), swish, swoosh, swank (swagger), swoop, swerve (file, scour), switch (whip), swath. /T/ alcohol. Tiff (drink, sip), tipple, tipsy, topsy-turvy, teetotal, tap, tapster (bartender), tavern, tanked (drunk), tankard, tank (to take an unusually long time to decide on a bid or play). /T/ excitement, emotion. Tush (exclamation of impatience), tiff (outburst of temper), tosh (sheer nonsense; bosh; twaddle), ticked, tizzy (an anxious state of mind; dither), tussle, tackle, tangle, tumble, topple, turmoil, turbo, turbine, temblor (earthquake, tremor), tantrum, temper, tempest, tempo (rate of speed). /T/ land, cultivation. Till, tilth (cultivation of the soil; cultivated land; cultivation; tilled land; tilled earth), tath (cattle dung; grass growing near cattle dung; to fertilize by pasturing cattle), turf, tract, toft (a building site), tundra. /T/ sound produced by smart stroke against a body. Tap, tink, tinkle, tingle, tittle, tick, tattle, tip, ting, toot, tuck (of a drum), tickle, tang (strike a bell; point; zest), tonk, tut, tick-tack, tittle-tattle, titter (laugh), tootle (frequentative of toot), too-too, tum- ti-tum (sound of drum or stringed instrument when plucked), tirl (to make a rattling or clattering sound by spinning or moving rapidly up and down; to make a string vibrate by plucking it; to pluck a string; to vibrate; peel; to twirl; to rattle; vibration; something that revolves; a rattle; a drinking bout; a fling at dancing), tone. /T/ tininess, timidity, restaint. Timid, tiptoe, tightrope, tiny, toddick (a very small quantity), tepid (moderately warm), tinge (a slight staining or suffusing shade or color; an affective or modifying property or influence; touch; to color with a slight shade or stain; tint; to affect or modify with a slight odor or taste; to affect or modify in character), tincture, tint, tickle, tease, touch, tit-for-tat, toddler, tyke (an inferior or mongrel dog; a clumsy, churlish, or eccentric person; a small child), tike {variation of tyke}, tad, tidbit, temperance, temperate, tempered, tidy, timely, tact, tardy, tilt. /T/ variation of /d/. /T/ titters, teases, tingles, tickles, and titillates. /T/ tumbles topsy-turvy into tempest and turmoil. /T/ tackles with tussles, temper- tantrums, tiffs, and tizzies. /T/ taps into tipsy tankards at the tavern. /T/ is ticked, touchy, tangled, teathered, taut, and tight. /T/ is tepid, timid, temperate, timely, tact, and teetotaling. /Tr/ liquid. Trickle, trough, teacle. /Tr/ simple path, treading. Tread, trod, trap (originally sound imitative), tramp, trample, trip, troll, trudge, trot, trek, track. /Tr/ treads, trods, tramps, tramples, trudges, trots, and treks down a track on trip. /Tr/ trickles in a trough as treacle. /Tw/ plucking and tweaking. Tweak, twang, twinge, twist, twiddle. /Tw/ small sounds, twisting movements. Twitter, twiddle, tweedle, twang, twank (variant of twang), twingle-twangle, tweet, twattle, twittle (babble, tattle), twaddle (variant of twattle), twitch, twick (pluck), twinge (twitch, pinch), twinkle (sparkle, glitter), twist, twirl, tweak, twiddle (to trifle), twittle-twattle (idle talk), twead, twit, twat. /Tw/ twitters, tweets, twirls, twists, twinges, twangs, tweaks, and twittle-twattles. /V/ container. Valve, vent, vault, vat. /V/ energy. Verve (energy; zest), verge (rim; shoulder), vibes, vim (robust energy and enthusiasm; vitality, zip), vigor. /V/ is vile, vicious, vehement, and vexing. /V/ is vested with verve, vigor, vim, and vibes. /V/ vileness. Vex, vie, vice, vile, vamp (to invent, concoct, fabricate, improvise; to practice seductive wiles on; flirt; seductress), vert (one who renounces the church or england for the catholic church; any convert or pervert), vafrous (crafty; shrewd; cunning), vicious, vehement. /V/ word or voice. Verb, verse, vox (voice). /Vr/ energy. Vrille (an aerobatic spinning nose dive; to perform a vrille). /W/ air, breath, forcible movement. Whine, whistle, whisper, whirl, whip (move the wings briskly), whoop, whap, whop (cast, strike), wheeze, whew (whistle), whish, whimper, whinny, whizz, whiff (puff, whistle), whiffle (blow in puffs), whoo, whicker (snigger, titter), whack, whoof (gruff cry), whang (beat), whing (move up with great force), whuff (sound of a forcible blast or breath of wind), whoosh (soft sibilant sound), wheep (long-drawn sound of a steel weapon drawn from its sheath), whit (sound of a bird), whing (high-pitched ringing sound) {variant of whang}. /W/ insanity. Whacko, wacko, wacky, whacky, whacked. /W/ intensity. Whish, whoosh, whump, whomp. /W/ unsteady, uncertain to and fro movement. Waw, wag, wiggle, waggle, waddle, wade, wobble, wangle (walk unsteadily), wangle (obtain in some irregular way). /W/ wags, wiggles, waggles, wades, wobbles, and wangles. /W/ whines, whimpers, weeps, whistles, whispers, whirls, whips, whishes, whinnies, whizzes, whiffs, whiffles, whacks, and whooshes. /Z/ infrequent initial /z/ zigzags, zips, zooms, zings, and zaps. /Z/ sound with poorly resolvable onset. Zigzag {loan from french}, zip, zoom (make a continuous, low- pitched, buzzing sound; aircraft’s steep climb), zoon, zunn (go or run fast witha hum or buzz), zing, zap, zat, zot.

Final cluster phonesthemes

Vowel phonesthemes

Ablaur modifications


If you are not finding a common prefix, suffix, vowel, or ablaut you want to use, you can create your own. The easiest way to do this is to organize your mind map, regardless of which path you have chosen, by sounds. As such, if you are looking for an idea for a prefix, organize your words and phrases in your mind map by how they start, for suffixes organize by how they end, and for common vowel and ablauts, based on the middle of the word.

Focus on sound, over spelling. This means, you are looking for homophones in the sections of the words and phrases that you are focusing on. This is due to the English language having different spellings for similar words or sounds. Example. See and cease have the same starting sound, but have different spellings. If you are unsure of the pronunciation, you can use an online software like Google Translate to check.

In addition, organize your words further by similarity and topic to ensure that your new phonestheme can make that association. Example. While crash and create have the same starting phonestheme, the meaning behind both words is too different to create a concept. Look for categories, overall meaning, ideas, or imagery that you want to evoke with your brand name.


If you have decided to try your hand at adding in prefixes and suffixes to your brand name, here is a list of some Latin and Greek classics. The following list has been compiled by English Hints and Info Please and set in alphabetical order, combining both Latin and Greek common prefixes and suffixes.

Note. I am not a language expert, but I am supplying information for further study. It has been modified to be more legible and easier to understand. Some of the following prefixes and suffixes have a definition, while others have examples. If you are interested in learning more about a specific prefix or suffix, I suggest searching online. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has some great examples and definitions for most of these prefixes and suffixes.


a-, an- without ab-, de- away or from ac-, as- to or toward ad-, a- to or toward ambi- both amphi- both ante- before anti-, ant- opposite, opposing, against apo-, ap- away or from auto- self, same ben- good bi- two bio-, bi- life, living organism circum- around co- together com- with con- with contra- against de-, ob- completely, down, away, off di- two de-, dis- not dia- across, beyond, through dis- without, not, not any dys- bad, difficult, wrong ecto- outside ego- self ek- out of en- in, into endo- within, inside epi- over, on, to, toward eu- good ex-, e- out of exo- outside extra- outside extro- outside geo- Earth; geography hemi- half, partially hyper- above, excess, excessively hypo- over, on, to, toward hypo- under, insufficient il-, im- in, into in-, ir- in, into in-, ob- against in-, on- not inter- between, among intra- within, inside macro- large mal- bad, difficult, wrong micro- small mono- one, single, alone multi- many neo- new, recent non- not ob- over omni- all pan- all peri- around poly- many post- after pre- before pro- before, in front of quad- four re- again; back, backward semi- half, partially sub- under, insufficient super- above, excess sym- with syn- with tetra- four therm- heat trans- across, beyond, through tri- three ultra- above, excess uni- one uth- self, same


Note. Negative prefixes mean ‘not’ or something similar. They may reverse the action or meaning of the word they attach to. (The most common negative prefix of all in English is ‘un-’. We have two others that are also not from Latin or Greek ‘mis-’ and ‘non-’.)


Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. In this section, I will be talking about sounds and how to use them when creating new words for your brand name.

Firstly, let’s talk about location. This means, thinking of the back and front of the mouth as it is used to create different sounds. Example. The vowels a in had and i in fit are front vowels as they are pronounced with the highest part of the tongue pushed forward. On the other hand, the vowels u in rule and o in pole are created when the back part of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate. This is quite easy to catch with vowels, but it is the same thing with consonants.

A back consonant includes all consonants that come from sounds made in the soft palate or back of the mouth. As such, front consonants are all other consonants. And there are, of course, variations from the front to the back. In the following table, I have organized all consonants used in the English language as recognized by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) language and their distance from front to back.

Note. The original table has a lot more sections and organization depending on both the place and manner of how a consonant is pronounced. There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world and even more dialects and that is a lot! While the original table includes different consonants and pronunciations related to this, in order to make this easier to consume, I have simplified the table by only including what is used in English and have organized it from front to back. Look at this article on Wikipedia that shows the detailed table along with soundbites for each consonant as they are used in multiple languages.

It is important to know the location of sounds is that there have been many studies that state when a word is organized to start at the front of the mouth and end at the back it is easier to consume. Think of eating that word.

In addition, this has been hypothesized to make such words easier to remember and more trustworthy. Both of which are steps to turn your audience into clients.


Note. For short words (five characters or less) you can do the same movement from the front of the mouth to the back, through vowels instead of consonants. To do this, you will have to figure out the pronunciation, sound, and stress of every vowel beforehand.


Note. All of these consonants and vowels have their own unique characters to represent them as part of the IPA. This includes letters from the Latin alphabet with diacritics (accents, dots, macrons, curles, etc.) and characters from other alphabets. For the purposes of this guide, I am using only letters and combinations of letters to represent common sounds in English.


When it comes to sounds, all phonemes can be commonly associated with different characteristics. The following is split between two main groups depending on the phonemes. Any consonants that are not visible can be applied to either groupin.

Note. This grouping is very general and slightly stereotypocal, so it is not always correct. However, it can make it easier to find a more general meaning behind your some of your sound choices.


Phoneme segmentation is the ability to break words down into individual sounds. Example. You may break the word brand into its sounds of /b/ /r/ /aaa/ /n/ /dt/. Some of these phonemes are not individual letters, including sounds such as shh, th, ch, and so many more. All the phonesthemes outlined in that section are examples of phoneme segmentation.


Most naming guides and experts recommend that you choose a short name for your brand. This is because it can be easily remembered, quicker to bring up to the conscious, and easier to say. However, that is not always the case. Due to the evolution of language, you can see that “words associated with fundamental survival needs tend to be short and simple (cow, dog, head, face, ear, eye, nose, toe, stone) …This concept also affects the way people perceive our names. Names that are short, abrupt, and simple tend to signify no-nonsense, down-to-earth, active individuals, while longer multi-syllable names evoke complex and imaginative personalities.” (Feinson, 2004)

What this means is that longer words are meant to stand for a more complicated idea. This also connects back to the kiki/bouba effect where items with a more visually complicated structure tend to have more complicated and longer names. As such, here are the most important factors I want you to keep in mind regarding the length and complexity of your brand name…

  • Short names cause people to make direct and small associations. As such, if one of your main brand attributes is simplicity, having a short name will help convey that.

  • If your signature service includes a huge amount of value or complicated work, having a long name will help make that connection before your audience looks at your landing page. Long names cause people to make complicated and large associations. Furthermore, definitions seem more complicated when a longer statement is used to describe a feature.

The length of your name is not always connected to its complexity. You can either name your brand Hgra or Hot Graphic Designs. The first one, pardon my example, looks like you may want to try hacking up a hairball to get it out. The second one flows a lot easier and leaves a stronger more positive impression. This is where the two differ.

Whichever way you want to look at it, your goal is to increase how easy your name is to read with speed, accuracy, and expression. Sometimes, a shorter name doesn't make it easier!

You may still want to go with the hairball name depending on the feelings you want to evoke in your audience. According to a study performed by Song and Schwarz, familiarity, simplicity, and fluency have an association with safe and boredom. On the other hand, more complicated names that are uncommon and harder to read, tend to give a new level of excitement and adventure. Consider your audience and what you want them to feel.



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