What’s in a Name: Twitter Was Almost Called ‘Jitter’ or ‘Twitch’

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The first tweet ever sent out by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in 2006 read “just setting up my twttr.” Thankfully, he and business partner Biz Stone had the sense to add discernible vowels to what we now know as Twitter— the rest, as they say, is history.

But in a new interview with WNYC News, Dorsey reveals a few alternatives they considered for Twitter, which included nomenclature such as “Jitter” and “Twitch.” Apparently, the names came from observing cell phones as they received SMS messages, which Twitter and its 140-character limit was initially designed to support.

Here’s what Dorsey says:

“We wanted a name that evoked what we did. We wanted something that was tangible. And we looked at what we were doing and when you received a tweet over SMS, your phone would buzz. It would jitter. It would twitch. And those were the early names, Jitter and Twitch. And neither one of them really inspired the best sort of imagery.”

The interview also talks about how they eventually settled on Twitter (“We all looked at the Oxford English dictionary at the T-W’s, and we found the word Twitter. And Twitter means a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds”), and demonstrates how language can impact the markability of a business. It’s a great interview and fully worth the read. It reminds me of how Facebook used to be called “The Facebook.”

(MORE: Why Google+ Won’t “Kill” Twitter)

So would any other word still have worked as well as “tweet?” Maybe. Possibly. But that’s more than enough revisionist guessing for one day. I couldn’t imagine having to send out a “twitch.”

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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