Where does the word or acronym Keccak come from?

  1. Guido Bertoni, Joan Daemen, Michael Peeters, and Gilles Van Assche. Keccak sponge function family main document. Submission to NIST (updated), 2009.

  2. "NIST Selects Winner of Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-3) Competition". NIST 10/2/2012.

  • $\begingroup$ I've wondered about this myself so I'll upvote. Although this question is not about crypto per se, I can't find anything wrong with it as per the FAQ. I assume you've already searched the documents you cite for terms such as Keccak stands for, the name of the algorithm... etc.? $\endgroup$
    – rath
    Aug 25, 2013 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ Note that given the many unpronounceable names of the hash methods in the competition that I'm glad we will just continue to call Keccak SHA-3 from now on. $\endgroup$
    – Maarten Bodewes
    Aug 25, 2013 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


According to J.-P. Aumasson (who's one of the authors of another SHA-3 finalist, BLAKE, and who participated in the cryptanalysis of Keccak), the name "Keccak" is a variant spelling of "Kecak", a type of Balinese dance.

So far, that's the most authoritative reference I've been able to come up with. It should be noted that naming crypto primitives after dances is hardly a new thing; see e.g. D. J. Bernstein's "latin dances" (Salsa, Rumba and ChaCha).

  • $\begingroup$ This U Bristol blog post points out that the word 'kekkek' is used in Finnegan's Wake... Maybe there's a connection there as well? $\endgroup$
    – pg1989
    Aug 26, 2013 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that it's quite likely that JPA is joking. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2018 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ I came to see a Kecak dance and was left wondering if Keccak's name was inspired by it $\endgroup$
    – Arc
    Jun 4, 2018 at 6:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer. The story I heard from one of the co-authors of Keccak is that in the dance they move their hand fast and it looks like they are chopping and mixing something, and this reminded another co-author about an hash function and they worked the name from that dance. $\endgroup$
    – Ruggero
    Nov 30, 2018 at 9:30

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