One of Ikea’s charming quirks is its habit of naming products with umlaut-laden Swedish words. The practice started at the inception of the company as a mnemonic device for Ikea founder Ingvar Kapmprad, who had dyslexia and struggled with numeric item codes. But today the company has a well established system for naming new products—bookcases are named for occupations or boys’ names, rugs are named after towns in Denmark or Sweden, bed linens are named after plants, and so on.
For perhaps the most comprehensive look at what all the Ikea items mean, one must turn to The Ikea Dictionary. Created years ago by Ikea fan Lars Petrus, the dictionary lists 1,362 product names along with their meanings and handy symbols for whether the term is a proper Swedish word, “improper” Swedish word, male or female first name, geographical location, un-categorizable term, or unknown.
“When IKEA went international, they decided to use the same Swedish names everywhere,” Petrus explains on his site. “This makes sense from an organizational sanity standpoint, but it deprives most of the world of this particular joy. Until now!”