It became the most searched term on Google.sg on Tuesday, after the announcement about Singapore's newest junior college, Eunoia JC.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said the name was derived from a Greek word and pronounced as 'yoo-noh-iea'. Officials said it means "beautiful thinking and goodwill towards others".
But netizens were far from impressed. "Pretentious" was among the kinder adjectives used in online reaction to the news.
People have also started questioning the official version of its pronunciation and meaning.
Facebook user Edward Yong said that MOE got both the meaning and the pronunciation of the word wrong.
The New Paper asked people familiar with the language to weigh in on the issue.
Author and Greek national Kostas Ikonomopoulos, 39, said: "In the years before Christ, the word could have been pronounced slightly differently, but today, it is pronounced 'ev-nee-ah', with the first 'e' as in 'epic'."
Both he and a Greek and Latin teacher, Mr Tai Yu Hsiang, 36, who has his own language school here, noted that the meaning of the word means "favouring someone or extending goodwill to someone".
Mr Ikonomopoulos said:"It is very rarely used to mean just good thinking or a positive state of mind.
"It is quite common to hear of it or read it in connection with sports.
"A referee might be accused of treating one team more 'favourably' than the other, or winds might be described as 'favourable' for a running or sailing event, " he said.
Eunoia JC principal Cheang Mei Heng had said that the name was chosen from at least 200 others and it best expressed "the collective aspirations for the College and the students".
She said: "The name itself may be rather new to many of us even though it is an English word.
"It has Greek origins, but the concepts contained within it are universal and timeless.
"I've tested the name personally with many people and while many gave me a blank look initially, these turned into appreciative nods after I (had) the opportunity to share the meaning behind the word with them.
"My team and I have pledged to become ambassadors of the name and we hope that there will be many opportunities ahead for us to share our story with each and every Singaporean we meet."
She said she was intrigued by the level of interest generated since the announcement.
She said that while some may not like the name, they encourage others to "look behind the name" for its meaning, which "encapsulates a beautiful aspiration that stakeholders have formulated for the students after several engagement sessions".
This article was first published on Jan 1, 2015.
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