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Distillata: What’s in a Name?

A business name carries a lot of weight. It represents your brand and tells customers what you are all about. A clear and concise name helps people understand your business easily.

Our name is Distillata. It’s straightforward, but its meaning isn’t immediately clear to everyone. If you live in Northeast Ohio, you might recognize it from our trucks or water delivery service. But have you ever wondered what Distillata actually means, much less how to pronounce it?

Unfortunately, since our name dates back to 1897, we don’t completely understand its origin. In this article, we’ll share what we do know and explain the meaning behind Distillata.

First, let’s go over the proper spelling. Below are the many variations we see daily:

  • Distalla
  • Distilata
  • Distilla
  • Distillatta

None of these are right. It is easier to see the difference when the correct spelling is spaced out – D I S T I L L A T A. 

Distillata horse and buggy making distilled water delivery in Cleveland, Oh
Here you see a Distillata buggy being pulled by a horse to make distilled water deliveries in Cleveland, Oh.

How do you pronounce Distillata?

Here is where it gets even harder. The versions of pronunciations we encounter are almost as abundant as how it is spelled. However, it is pronounced precisely as it is written. When we break down the phonetic components, “Distillata” can be divided into four distinct syllables: “Dis-til-la-ta.” By pronouncing each syllable individually, we can achieve the correct pronunciation. This recording will help:

What is the origin of the word Distillata? 

We have an ongoing debate about the origin of our name. Some of us have long believed it originates from Latin roots, while others argue it is Italian. In our quest for answers, we turned to Google Translate, hoping it would reveal the true lineage. Will it side with the Latin enthusiasts or lend credence to the Italian advocates? 

screen shot of Google translate showing the Italian origin of the word distillata

Google provided an Italian translation despite selecting English as our input language. This intriguing twist suggests that the word may, in fact, have Italian origins. But, also according to Word Reference, Distillata derives from the Latin term “distillare,” a verb signifying the act of distillation. To summarize, and with absolutely no linguistics training, Distillata is an Italian word with Latin origins.

What does Distillata mean?

We just learned the Latin root of our name means “the act of distillation.” To ensure that is accurate, we confirmed it with Google Translate.

Screen shot of distillata in Google Translate  from English to Latin

We learned that it is an Italian word. But what does it mean when spoken in Italy? 

screen shot of Google translating the name Distillata from Italian to English

In both languages, it means distilled or to distill. Now that we have solved the Distill part of our name, what about “ata?” According to Word Reference, ata is a plural suffix used to form nouns. When added to distill, it makes it a noun, which does not translate well in English. But it offers a genius twist to the meaning of our name. We are not doing distilling (verb). We ARE distilling (noun). Our full name, The Distillata Water Company, means we are THE distilled water company. 

Who named Distillata?

We have been delivering water from the same Cleveland, Oh. location since 1897. As you can imagine, this long history makes it difficult to trace exactly who chose our name. As you see in this patent application, we have located listings using the Distillata name as far back as 1904.

City Ice application for a patent on the word Distillata

Notice the patent lists City Ice Delivery Company alongside Distillata. City Ice and Fuel Company initially delivered our distilled water. Whether they were the original purveyors, we have yet to determine. But we do know Peter Diemer founded City Ice. If you are a Cleveland history buff, you are likely familiar with the Diemer Mansion. The Diemer Mansion, located on the property of The Slovenian National Home, was constructed for Peter Diemer. Peter, with his parents, immigrated to Cleveland from Germany in 1840.

According to clevelandhistorical.org, “Diemer’s wealth was amassed thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy. He began Cleveland’s first artificial ice company capitalizing on a growing national industry that would eventually lead to the downfall of the global Ice Trade of the nineteenth century.”

close up of the logo on a Distillata vintage wooden

We may never know if Peter chose the name Distillata. But based on this history, it is likely. Do you think his friends needed lessons in pronunciation and spelling for his new company?

Watch this video to learn about Distillata, a family-owned and operated company in Cleveland, Oh. since 1897.

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