“IKEA” is an acronym.
Source: Original photo by Doug Houghton/ Alamy Stock Photo
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“IKEA” is an acronym.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that IKEA is a Swedish word related to furniture. In fact, it’s an acronym that combines the initials of founder Ingvar Kamprad (IK) with the name of the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd) and a nearby village (Agunnaryd). Kamprad was just 17 when he founded the company in 1943, initially selling small household items — think pens and wallets — rather than beds and sofas. He likely had no idea that there would one day be more than 450 IKEA stores across the globe.

FBI is an acronym.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
It’s actually an initialism, which differs from an acronym in one key way — the former are pronounced one letter at a time and the latter are pronounced as words. Other examples of initialisms include CIA and HTML, while POTUS and NASA are acronyms.

IKEA isn’t the only unexpected acronym. It’s joined on that list by “laser” (light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation), “scuba” (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus), “radar” (RAdio detection and ranging), and even fellow Swedes ABBA (Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid).

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Size (in square feet) of the world’s largest IKEA store, in Stockholm
594,000
Countries with at least one IKEA
52
Billy bookcases sold by IKEA as of 2019
110 million
IKEA shoppers in 2020
800 million
IKEA began publishing its famous catalogue in _______. (It stopped in 2020.)
IKEA began publishing its famous catalogue in 1951. (It stopped in 2020.)
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Think Twice
IKEA’s naming system is related to its founder’s dyslexia.

Because he struggled with the neurological disorder, Kamprad developed the company's distinct naming system to help him remember and visualize products in a way that code numbers couldn’t. Rugs are usually named after places in Denmark and Sweden, garden furniture is named after Scandinavian islands, and fabrics and curtains are based on Scandinavian girls' names, to cite just a few examples. One devoted IKEA fan has even developed an unofficial dictionary to help shoppers translate the names of their new bookcases and vases into English.

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