Imagineering is a portmanteau combining "imagination" and "engineering". It is well known for its use within the name of Walt Disney Imagineering; however, contrary to popular belief, the term was neither coined by Disney, nor did it originate there. "Imagineering" was popularized by Alcoa around 1940, and appeared widely in numerous publications and promotional print materials throughout the decade.
Following World War II, Alcoa created an internal "Imagineering" program to encourage innovative usage of aluminum in order to keep up demand.
A Time magazine ad from February 16, 1942, titled "The Place They Do Imagineering" relates the origin,
For a long time we've sought a word to describe what we all work at hard here at Alcoa... IMAGINEERING is the word... Imagineering is letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.
Other notable pre-Disney usages include an October 24, 1942 mention in the New York Times in an article titled "Christian Imagineering," a 1944 Oxford English Dictionary entry which cites an advertisement from the Wall Street Journal, and the use by artist Arthur C Radebaugh to describe his work, which was mentioned in the article "Black Light Magic" in the Portsmouth Times, Portsmouth, Ohio, 1947.
"Imagineering" has also been used by:
- Imagineering Foundation, a charity organisation that encourages school children aged from 8-16 to engage with engineering.
- Imagineering, a defunct New Jersey video game developer.
- Imagineering Australia, a microcomputer software and hardware distributor founded by Australian businessman Jodee Rich.
- Larsen & Toubro (L&T), an Indian engineering and construction giant, in its advertising. It has been used in its ad campaign, released in mainline publications and on outdoor media nationwide describing the new tagline of the company - "It's all about Imagineering".