Cuil review from a linguistic point of view…
Posted on: 28/07/2008, by : Lolly


I picked up a thread by Mashable on Twitter this morning talking about the new search engine Cuil, packed with ex-Googlers in their team. Cuil claim to be the world’s biggest search engine, with an index of 120 billion websites in the world. Rather than relying on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. The odd name Cuil is an Irish word for knowledge. 

Well dear Cuillers (cuillère in French means spoon), I have something to tell you… If you’re claiming to be the largest search engine in the world, you should think global and act local. And here I am talking about your brand name. Cuil sounds like ‘couilles’ (balls/bollocks) or cul (arse) in French! Not exactly enticing…

Despite such poor branding taste, I decided it was time to check out Cuil in more depth but sadly got the following message:

Due to overwhelming interest, our Cuil servers are running a bit hot right now. The search engine is momentarily unavailable as we add more capacity.

Thanks for your patience.

When I did finally manage to take a look at their homepage, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the search results, although graphically speaking the site does look good and categorises information in an interesting way.


I have just done a quick Twitter search and the feedback so far isn’t particularly positive.


I am not quite sure how they’ll overcome so much bad publicity on their launch date but everyone is talking about them at the end of the day! 

So what do you think of Cuil? Am I being to harsh? Fire your comments away!

19 thoughts on “Cuil review from a linguistic point of view…

  1. Salut, il faudrais essayer de place Cuil dans “Brand Tags” et voir que ce que ca donne. Name of brand or industry, company is the first important step. It’s better don’t think what you fill about the name, but what customers or people thinks about…

  2. Indeed – now they are stuck with that name! I read on Techcrunch that Cuil should in fact be pronounced cool. I think it’ll cause a lot of problems with Italian and Spanish speakers too…

  3. I love Cuil and I love the hype about it today. Thousands of articles. I believe they stand a fighting chance against Googl’s monopoly on the search engine industry.

  4. Hi Toni! Welcome! Even though think their name will create a lot of confusion, I quite like the fact they are trying to challenge Google. It’ll be interesting to see how they are perceived in a few months!

  5. I think the biggest problem for them is the results – it just couldn’t find me what I wanted. I have also heard that if you search for ‘Cuil’ their own site doesn’t appear on the first page of their results!

    Interesting but can’t see people moving to it yet…..

  6. I will be harsh though – they fail on simple usability. Typed in my son’s name (it appears in the title of his blog) and all I got was Elvis and his songs…no way, I am not going to waste my time on it. If they wanted to beat Google, they should launch the site in an already well developed stage – doesn’t look like that to me now…:P

  7. John – thanks for suggesting ‘cul’ – didn’t think about that one…

    Nick – you’re right… if you searc cuil on cuil, it does not come up in the search results!

    Sylwia – I got the same mproblem… I can’t even find myself yet I am everywhere on Google!

  8. yeah, it certainly does suck, i’m going to have to give it some time, as the results actually seem fairly accurate, but not what i’m used to from google, which is both a blessing and a problem.

    I started using google in 1999, about 4 months after it launched, and never looked back. Close to a decade of using 1 search engine has got me into some serious habits, and as they say, old habits die hard. I’m not opposed to the idea of another search engine, but it’ll have to be very very good to tare me away from google. Cuil hasnt done that on it’s first go, so i probably wont use it again, and if the rest of the internet is as fickle as me (it is), then cuil is in serious trouble.

  9. You nailed it – search needs to be local… and personal… and it better kick butt on mobile.

    Interesting that they are disregarding user behaviour in favour of fancy new algorhythms – especially since none of my own blog links come up – even when i reference the URL!

  10. Richard – yup cuil is indeed in serious trouble

    Phil – if early adopters (us!!) are slating it so early, chances are everyday consumers will never bother looking into it…

  11. Well sadly they don’t have a thing on Google. The real winner for Google at the moment is their localization. Being here in South Africa it’s going to take something pretty impressive that delivers search results that are localized to people here. What good is searching for real estate only to be given info on real estate in Florida, US.

    While I do like the display of the results I do feel that the results themselves are very poor. Not only for local searches but even broad international searches. Possibly 120Billion websites also means more rubbish… and poorer results.

    After all my ranting about Mahalo being terrible… could it be one extreme to the next. 10 websites vs 120billion websites – neither offering what you need.

  12. Hi Robert,

    I think that if anyone is going to challenge Google, they’ll have to devleop something with end users in mind, to offer as you mention in your comment, what users need… that would be a pretty big task indeed…

  13. The name definitely sucks! I speak French and totally agree with your points about Cuil sounding like “couilles” or “cul” 😉

  14. Cuil Sucks. Google is better in what I want. Now can someone tell me why do people think Google is a monopoly, when they actually make thing easier.

  15. I think the real breakthrough in the searching industry will emerge from the concept opposite to actual approaches. Not to employ searching engine to analyse lexical content of crawled web pages but to equip the engine with human knowledge. Why? Because computer applications will NEVER simulate human analysis in sufficiently complex manner – this is illusion. Plugging (properly processed) human knowledge into the trawler is more realistic choice.
    I implemented such idea into my new semantic searching engine and it works brilliantly. It is working within the bundle of my tools for “intellectual communication systems” (see the article in my site)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *