Google Says "Ungoogleable" Can't Be A Swedish Word

Ogooglebar. Is that a word? Well, it might have been.

Ogooglebar. That's Swedish, and means "something you can't find without the use of a search engine." At least, that's what the Language Council of Sweden wanted Ogooglebar to mean--until Google stepped in, fearing that the word had negative connotations for the firm. And so the powers that be at Mountain View began to exert a little bit of pressure on the Swedish lingo bosses, says The Verge.

The ensuing negotiations between the two parties were so fraught and nitpicky (the official line is "too much time and resources") that the Language Council of Sweden decided to remove the phrase from its list of new words for 2012. Which, had this story not gained a bit of traction, would have meant that the word "ogooglebar" was, I expect, ungoogleable. But I guess it won't be now.

Google is, let's face it, a verb these days (and has been for over a decade--not bad for a firm that started as a university research project back in 1996) that means to look for something on a search engine. Even Bing employees probably use the G word when they're talking about searching for something online. (Right?)

What do you think? Instead of niggling a body of Swedish grammarmeisters, should they be sticking to what they do best and innovating, or coming up with a replacement for, say, Google Reader? Or do they have a point, as brand protection is so important? How do you think they'd feel if the Language Council of Sweden decided to use the word "obingbar" to mean "something you can't find in a search engine"? Our comments box is at your disposal. Tack!

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8 Comments

  • Clark G-able

    It´s all good advertising for Google so I suspect they achieved what they really wanted...

  • Ryan Burwell

    The cool thing about language is that it is much more influenced by common useage than it is by committees.  Ogooglebar's status as a word rests on whether or not it is actually useful and used.  I personally think it's a great word and concept.  Humans have always been intrigued by what is just beyond our knowledge - that which is ungoogleable.   

  • Louise McGregor


    I suspect that Google's reaction has more to do with trademark protection than concerns about negative connotations for the firm.

  • Cameron Crowe

    Ungoogleable -- Noun. - A new Google Labs project that provides relevant search results for all queries, no matter how 'ungoogleable'.

  • Anonymous

    I feel the need to point out that it's not the Language Counsil of Sweden that decides the definition of a word, as the first paragraph of this article implies, but rather they use the definition that people attribute the words with. I.e., they are not disagreeing to reach a compromise with because they want to, they're doing it because they feel they have to in order to protect language as a whole, to make sure that companies don't get a right in getting to choose what a word should mean.

  • Mshidden

    I think you say it kinda like your barfing right?  Well it clear Google wants to have the word adopted more widely... but why, what secret skunks works project do they up their selves...

  • Ola Laurin

    "Ogooglebar" actually refers to something so generic it CAN'T be found using Google (for instance a friend called "John Smith").