Yet another find from that eternal scavenger of the internet, aldiboronti (at Wordorigins): the full story of the creation of the term wiki, in the form of an exchange of letters between Ward Cunningham, coiner of the word; Patrick Taylor, the etymologist for the American Heritage Dictionary; and Catherine Soanes, a lexicographer for Oxford University Press:
I learned the word wiki on my first visit to Hawai’i when I was directed to the airport shuttle, called the Wiki Wiki Bus. I asked for that direction to be repeated three or four times until the airline representative took the time to define the word wiki for me. The next day I picked up a small book about Hawai’ian and learned more interesting things about the language.
I wanted an unusual word to name for what was an unusual technology. I was not trying to duplicate any existing medium, like mail, so I didn’t want a name like electronic mail (email) for my work. The community that formed around my site were willing to explore its capabilities without preconceived notions of how it should work. An example of such a notion is the “timeless now” in which “conversation” takes place.
Apparently he intended the word to be pronounced “weaky” (“My preference would be that the word be pronounced as a Hawai’ian would, and that wick-ey be an acceptable alternative”), but I don’t know anyone who says it that way (and to my ears “Weaky-pedia” sounds particularly ridiculous). Once you set the word free, it’s out of your control!