Want to quickly guess how the name WikiLeaks was created? (There’s a hint in that question, by the way.)
Wikileaks is formed by taking a part of one word, wiki, and putting it together with another word, leak.
The word leak, in this sense, means a secret release of information by someone such as a government official to the news media. Perhaps the best-known man who leaked information to the press was Mark Felt, a former FBI official. Known only as Deep Throat to Washington Post investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Felt released information on the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. Ultimately, the scandal forced President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974.
“The word wiki is a short form of the Hawaiian wiki-wiki, which means ‘quick,’” writes Will Richardson in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. A wiki, Richardson says, is a “collaborative Webspace where visitors and collaborators can add content and edit content that has already been published.”
I often rely on Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. Wikipedia has enjoyed success all over the world. In fact, Wikipedia notes that as of 2007 about 75% of its articles were “contained within non-English Wikipedia versions.”
So, now a Hawaiian word has recognition in places as far-flung as China, Russia and Israel. And, thanks to the power and scope of the Internet, that word recognition happened pretty darn quickly.