Word of the Day / Pelephone

The name for a cell phone – any cell phone – comes from Israel's first mobile company, a provider still very much in business today.

Had the history of mobile communication in Israel been a little different, sabras might be telling each other to pick up their orange and give them a ring. Come to think of it, there would have been a certain logic to that in a country whose economy was once largely based on citrus exports, together with the irony of the telecommunications company Orange being a British import: In Israel the mobile carrier officially operates under the name Partner Communications.

But luckily for us the first Israeli cell phone provider was Pelephone – "wonder phone" – a name that is still with us as the generic term for the device, in addition to being one of the country's Big Three mobile carriers. Completing the triumvirate is Cellcom, short for "cellular communication", natch.

While Pelephone's naming coup can never be taken away from it, market share is another story. The venerable carrier has slipped to third place this year in the wake of the entry into the market of new virtual carriers such as Golan Telecom and Rami Levi Communications.

Shoshana Kordova will resume enlightening and entertaining Word of the Day readers on October 9.