Have You Had Enough Nano?

When Apple introduced its iPod nano this month, the chatter was almost uniformly positive. Almost.

In nerd-dom, there was a faint but perceptible outcry about the name. Partly, this had to do with what some saw as Apple’s bullying of a company called Creative, which has an MP3 player called the Zen Nano Plus. But there was also a general sense that people have simply had it up to here with the word nano.

“It’s not about iPods, but about how abused the word nano is,” The Diva Working Mum asserted on her blog. “Nano-shampoo! Nano-toothpaste! Nano-cleansing ingredients! Get a nano-sized brain! Take a nano-leap into the nano-lake! Why not go whole hog and do a nano-somersault?”

Nano means one-billionth of something; the word comes from the Greek nannos, which means “little old man” or “dwarf.” Do people care about these particulars? Not really. “It’s kind of a fad word people use now to give the appearance of being high-tech,” Jim Lowe, senior editor for Merriam-Webster, told Reuters recently.

Plus, where do you go from nano? A visitor to the Lancerlord blog helpfully chimes in: “After nano (exp -9) is pico (exp -12). After pico (exp -12) is femto (exp -15). After femto (exp -15) is atto (exp -18). After atto (exp -18) is zepto (exp -21). After zepto (exp -21) is yocto (exp -24). What do you think: iPod Yocto?”