How many of you know what the word 'empyrean' means?
March 28, 2004 4:20 AM   Subscribe

Offhand (that is, without google or dictionary), how many of you know what the word 'empyrean' means? Explanation follows...

It's been weeks of careful consideration as to a business name that I feel satisfied with. This word seems to sum up what I want to convey (quiet elegance, brilliance, fire, superb service.) It's been suggested to me by more than one source, however, that it's "too strange," "too difficult to spell," "not marketable enough," and that no one will even know how to pronounce it.

Am I being too optimistic when I think that my target audience will know what it means? This is for web development, by the way.

(Should general consensus be that it's too obtuse to be effective, I sure wouldn't mind other suggestions.)
posted by precocious to Writing & Language (22 answers total)
i didn't know what it means (still don't). wondered if it was related to empirical or epicurean (sp?)...

but it seems ok as a business name (you want something that you can easily get to the top of google with, and which doesn't sound silly, imho).
posted by andrew cooke at 5:16 AM on March 28, 2004

It sounds like an old fashioned greek word. Probably means Empire or "of the empire". I don't like it as a word. It looks difficult to spell (Empyrian is my guess... let me check... Nope got it wrong ten seconds after reading it). Sorry precocious , but this gets a thumbs down from me.
posted by seanyboy at 5:16 AM on March 28, 2004

from your post i'm assuming that it's related to "pyre". maybe if you printed it over a logo of a witch burning at the stake it might be clearer :o)

to salvage this post from being pure noise, here are two ways i've used to find names for things:
- use another language but, in contrast to your approach, choose one without obvious common roots to english (i used mapuche for "kultrung" - great word with germanic cuture resonances - and "bulli").
- write down a description as a word square(?) and pick out a name from contiguous letters. eg: halipeto
posted by andrew cooke at 5:36 AM on March 28, 2004

I had a vague idea it was something Greek to do with fire... so, I looked it up and still don't see what it's got to do with the 'quiet elegence', 'brilliance', or 'service' part of your explanation. It also reeks of the fancy-name-that-says-nothing trend in tech company naming that is becomming very tired. Personally, I'd rather hire a web dev company called 'Fred Smith, Inc.' or something equally bland, simply because it at least sounds like I might be working with humans.

But don't be disheartened, I'm probably nothing like the customer demographic you're targeting and have no qualifications in marketing whatsoever.
posted by normy at 5:40 AM on March 28, 2004

I read "empty" when I look at it quickly... not a good connotation.
posted by jpburns at 6:55 AM on March 28, 2004

I knew what it meant, but only in its religious context, and only because I did a religious studies major at university. I don't think I've ever heard the word used to connote the things you're trying to get across.

(Not saying that it can't be, of course, just that it's not what comes to mind for me.)
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:16 AM on March 28, 2004

I know the word, but only because I've run across it before, and had to look it up then. For me, the word does what you want it to. And here's the good news: the term is likely instantly identifiable, with rather positive connotations, to most jazz fans. The bad news: that still ain't a hell of a lot of people, really, at least judging by the market share for jazz records.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:24 AM on March 28, 2004

I know the word (I'm not sure I'd know it if I hadn't studied Dante, and Latin and Greek in school, btw). but I'm a foreigner, educated outside the US, so I'm probably not part of your focus group.
posted by matteo at 8:27 AM on March 28, 2004

For what it's worth, I don't like it either. It smacks of "empire" - hubris? - and I too couldn't spell it correctly off the top of my head though I knew the word and what it meant.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:31 AM on March 28, 2004

posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on March 28, 2004

I guessed some form of empirical-- and of course was completely wrong.

I note that in my dictionary the word listed just before empyrean is empyema, a noun meaning a collection of pus in a cavity especially the lungs.

And I would agree with the above comments that it sounds too much like Empire or Imperial even Imperious, not exactly the feeling you are attempting to convey about superlative service.

If you want to stick with the heavenly metaphors, I think I would go with Elysium or even Olympian over Empyrean.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:16 AM on March 28, 2004

I know what it means, but I'd leave it to the Romantic poets and their lot. It sounds pompous. It's also hard to guess the spelling from the sound if you don't know it, and doesn't really reflect the points that you want to reflect. IMO.

Perhaps something like "AAA Speedy's Web Development" instead?
posted by adamrice at 10:44 AM on March 28, 2004

Now it appears to me that almost any Man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy Citadel -- the points of leaves and twigs on which the spider begins her work are few, and she fills the air with a beautiful circuiting. Man should be content with as few points to tip with the fine Web of his Soul, and weave a tapestry empyrean full of symbols for his spiritual eye . . .


(yes, i heard of the word, yes i used google to confirm."
posted by clavdivs at 11:26 AM on March 28, 2004

It made me think of the opening of the head of the penis, probably because of something to do with "urethra", or something; so some genital opening or something.
You probably don't want to take any notice of the impressions unknown words make on my mind.
Please help me.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:27 AM on March 28, 2004

FWIW: The word has no meaning to me (didn't Google or define it), so my gut reaction is: yuck. It does not sound like a word that I want to associate with. For some reason, it makes me think of a large insect's bulging mid-section.

Good luck.
posted by davidmsc at 12:31 PM on March 28, 2004

i know the word and what it really means, but i associate it with: blue/icy/cold/shiny not hospitable or personal, i wouldn't say pompous, but otherworldly and unconcerned with mundane things. not really what i would like in customer service.
posted by rhyax at 12:51 PM on March 28, 2004

Hm. The OED doesn't say anything about elegance.

Also 6 empyrian, 7-8 empyræan. [f. as prec. + -AN.]

A. adj. Of or pertaining to the sphere of fire or highest heaven. Also fig.

1614 RALEIGH Hist. World I. 3 It pleased God first of all to create the Empyrean Heaven. 1682 SIR T. BROWNE Chr. Mor. 93 The pearl we seek for is not to be found in the Indian, but in the empyrean ocean. 1796 MORSE Amer. Geog. I. 27 Above the starry sphere..finally the empyrean heaven, or heaven of heavens. 1805 WORDSW. Prelude IV. (1850) 98 Drenched in empyrean light. a1839 PRAED Poems (1864) II. 306 From the Courts of the Empyrean dome Came forth what seemed a fiery car.

B. n.

The highest heaven. In ancient cosmology the sphere of the pure element
of fire: in Christian use, the abode of God and the angels. Also fig.

1667 MILTON P.L. VII. 73 Divine Interpreter sent Down from the Empyrean. 1755 in JOHNSON. 1847 LD. LINDSAY Chr. Art I. Introd. 32 The empyrean, the first work of creation and the residence and throne of God. 1878 NEWCOMB Pop. Astron. IV. 408 The empyrean, or kingdom of fire.

2. transf. a. The visible heavens or firmament. b. The whole extent of cosmic space.

1808 J. BARLOW Columb. IV. 456 O'er great, o'er small extends his physic laws, Empalms the empyrean. 1821 CRAIG Lect. Drawing v. 262 The vast empyrean of the sky. 1880 M. PATTISON Milton xiii. 179 The physical universe itself [becomes] a drop suspended in the infinite empyrean.

posted by Grod at 1:38 PM on March 28, 2004

Didn't know what it meant. Couldn't remember if I'd ever known. Had conflicting feelings that it was probably a noun, and then was almost certain it was an adjective. Ultimately came up blank.

Of or pertaining to the sphere of fire or highest heaven

If you want to provide web design, that's cool, but I get a little tired of business branding hyperbole. Isn't this, um... what's the word...? "Hubris?" I'm not trying to be a dick, just giving you my honest reaction. Maybe you could tone it down a notch.
posted by scarabic at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2004

With regards to elegance (which isn't an actual definition of the word, apologies), I was thinking more of how it renders graphically and how it sounds when you say it. It has something of an aesthetic balance to it visually, and a soft/pleasing sound when spoken.

scarabic: I'm far from the best designer out there, although I figure it's better to go with an overly positive connotation than a more realistic, "We design great sites. Not the BEST sites. You could probably find someone who could do it better if you looked harder!" Much like any business that claims it's "the premiere," etcetera.

bluestone: Bonus points for making the sexual connection. If nothing else turned the word off for me, it was that. Opening of the urethra? Yech.

I trust/respect the opinions of a fairly large cross-sampling of MeFites. Thanks for sharing. :)
posted by precocious at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2004

Sorry old chap, having not come across the word before my first impressions were that it meant to turn into either Pyrex or the Pyrenees.

I know, I know... All the good names for companies are long gone.
posted by dmt at 7:56 PM on March 28, 2004

I know what it means, and I have a variety of thoughts, positive and negative, about it as a business name. But why I'm really chiming in here is to point out that I did see a web design business named "Empyrean" advertised on the net, and they felt the need to both explain what the word means and provide a pronunciation key for it, on the opening page of the site. My guess is that this was not their original intention, but they probably felt the need to do so after encountering a lot of confusion....
posted by taz at 11:12 PM on March 28, 2004

I did do a search for a design/web development company by that name and didn't find one. I suppose that they're no longer around isn't a good sign.
posted by precocious at 9:09 AM on March 29, 2004

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