Back in 2003 I posted about a site “explaining a few of the basic rules of IKEA’s often bizarre-sounding product names”; now that the internet has grown and matured, I can point you to a much more comprehensive site, The IKEA Dictionary by Lars Petrus:
Part of what makes IKEA unique is their product names. Each name means something, often in a funny or ambigious way. When IKEA went international, they decided to use the same Swedish names everywhere. This makes sense from an organizational sanity standpoint, but it deprives most of the world of this particular joy.
IKEA product names fall into a few main groups.
❞ Proper Swedish words.
❞ Improper Swedish words. IKEA laughs at the ‘rules’ of human language!
☺☺ First names. Mostly Swedish, some Scandinavian, occasional exotic names.
✖Geographical names. Swedish, Danish, Norwegian or Finnish. Yes, there are patterns. Here is a map of all 320 places
★ A few names that defy categorization.
? Mystery names I haven’t figured out… Currently 130 out of 1362 names.
(Note that the original page has colors not reproduced above, which is why the sigla for Proper and Improper Swedish words look identical.) Via MetaFilter, where Foci for Analysis explains some of the words Petrus couldn’t:
Most of the words lacking definitions are actually old-timey names of towns, villages, hamlets, etc. Typically, they reference nature, agriculture or old professions.
KOTTEBO: KOTTE=cone, slang:individual BO=resident, dwelling, den, nest
BERGSBO: BERGS=mountain BO=resident, dwelling. den, nest
BJÖRKUDDEN: BJÖRK=birch UDDEN=cape
EKTORP: EK=oak TORP=cottage