American Proprietary Eponyms

INTRODUCTION

An eponym is a general term used to describe from what or whom something derived its name. Therefore, a proprietary eponym could be considered a brand name (trademark or service mark) which has fallen into general use.

We've all seen it happen. The commonplace products and services of today become the household word of tomorrow. Well, some might say ’tis the price companies pay for a popular product.

“And now a word from our sponsor...”

In general, an eponym succeeds only if it can convey its purpose successfully without adjectives or modifiers. For example “Use some saran wrap” works as successfully as “Use some saran wrap to keep your food fresh.” In fact the former sentence is agreeably less redundant.

So, what leads a brand name to become an eponym? Well, for one thing, other brands of a similar nature or purpose must exist; but even more importantly, the original product, even if discontinued, must still function pronominally. In other words, a specific can be used to designate a class of generics with no loss in meaning. The usual result: lower case transcription of the brand name.

Now, here's the twist: Brand names are, in fact, neither nouns nor verbs, but the rare case of proper adjectives.

By convention, to recognize such words, a noun such as “brand” and/or a noun phrase describing the product or service is used. The brand name must also be capitalized (order of of decreasing acceptability: SARAN WRAP, SARAN WRAP, or Saran Wrap) or made distinct from the surrounding text (order of decreasing acceptability: Saran Wrap, Saran Wrap, or Saran Wrap). After the first occurence of the word in writing, however, initial caps are all that is needed.

Taking this into account, the above imperative would be ideally stated “Use some SARAN WRAP brand food storage wrap,” which not only shows respect, but precludes any misinterpretation of ownership.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

DBAPE initially appeared on the Web in 1997 with over forty terms listed. The mission: "To increase brand recognition and awareness through a unique and insightful database of commonplace American marks."

This site remains an ongoing project of mine, intended primarily for personal reference. I've included various brand names (trademarks and servicemarks), their respective owners (tradenames), and any misused forms (lowercase, typically non-adjectival), some with example sentences.

Despite my choice in a page title, this database is nonalphabetized and lacks any search capabilities. However, these features may appear in a forthcoming release. In the mean time, if you find any discrepancies or perhaps have a word to add, please drop me a note. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.

Randall E. Krause


Thanks to the many generous people who have already contributed to the database. I will be including new brand names as I have time. Below are the newest entries that have been submitted for approval thus far.

FRISBEE™ NEW!

Wham-O Manufacturing Corporation

frisbee n.; frisbees n. pl. : toy flying saucer for toss games


GOOGLE™ NEW!

Google, Inc.

google v.; googled v. p.; googling v. pr. : to perform a Web-based search-engine query

I frequently google my favourite baseball teams.

Editor's Note: Use of google with the preposition for may be equally if not more prevalent. Furthermore, it appears that reference to Google search technology is still inferred.


XEROX™ POPULAR!

Xerox Corporation

xerox n.; xeroxes n. pl. : photocopy produced by an electronic xerography machine

Julian requested a xerox of all relevant marketing materials.

xerox v.; xeroxed v. p.; xeroxing v. pr. : to photocopy by means of an electronic xerography machine

Can you xerox these within the hour?

xeroxer n. ; xeroxers n. pl. : person who routinely operates a photocopier; electronic xerography machine

We must purchase more xeroxers for the office.

Editor's Note: Xerox is one of the few proprietary eponyms that appears as readily in verb form as in any other parts of speech.


KLEENEX™ POPULAR!

Kimberly-Clark Corporation

kleenex n.; kleenexes n. pl. : soft facial tissue

Dry your excess lipstick with this piece of kleenex.


BAND AID™ POPULAR!

Johnson & Johnson

band aid, band-aid, bandaid n.; band aids, band-aids, bandaids n. pl. : plastic adhesive bandage strip

Any first aid kit should include a supply of band-aids.


COKE™ POPULAR!

The Coca Cola Company

coke n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink

Coke, the beverage of choice for us teens!


COLA™

The Coca Cola Company

cola n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink


KOOL-AID™

Kraft Foods, Incorporated

Kool-Aid, cool aid, coolaid n. : instant lemonade/soft-drink mix

On a hot summer's day, there's nothing like a refreshing glass of cool aid.


SCOTCH TAPE™ POPULAR!

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M)

scotch tape n. : cellophane adhesive tape

scotch tape v.; scotch taped v. p.; scotch taping v. pr. : to join together with cellophane adhesive tape

Can I borrow an open roll of scotch tape, please?


POPSICLE™

Good Humor - Breyers Ice Cream Company

popsicle n. : colored ice candy on a stick

It's fun to try and make popsicles on a ninety-degree afternoon.


WITE-OUT™ POPULAR!

BIC Corporation

wite-out, white out, white-out n. : typographical correction fluid

This report is literally layered with white out. What happened?

wite-out, white out, white-out v.; wited-out, whited out, whited-out v. p.; witing-out, whiting out, whiting-out v. pr. : to cover or wipe out an error, usually typographical

The title still needs to be whited out.

Editor's Note: Another possible variation of the verb wite-out is the construction white...off as in “Could you please white my name off that agreement.”


STYROFOAM™ POPULAR!

Dow Chemical Company

styrofoam n. : extruded polystyrene insulating foam

styrofoam adj. : consisting of extruded polystyrene foam


JELL-O

Kraft Foods, Incorporated

jell-o, jello n. : fruit flavored gelatin


POST-IT NOTE™ POPULAR!

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M)

post-it note, post-it n.; post-it notes, post-its n. pl. : self-stick removable reminder label


VELCRO™

Velcro Industries B.V.

velcro n. : hook and loop fastener; touch fastener

The black sandals with velcro seem to fit best.


THERMOS™

Top Thermo Manufacturing SDN BHD

thermos n.; thermoses n. pl. : thermal insulated flask or box


ESCALATOR™

Otis Elevator Company

escalator n.; escalators n. pl. : power-driven stair system


HI-LITER™

Avery Dennison Corporation

hi-liter, hiliter n.; hi-liters, hiliters n. pl. : pen-style highlighting marker

hi-lite, hilite n.; hi-lites, hilites n. pl. : highlight

hi-liter, hiliter v.; hi-lit, hilited, hi-lited v. p.; hi-liting, hiliting v. pr. : to highlight


LISTERINE™

Warner-Lambert Company

listerine n. : antiseptic mouthwash


SARAN WRAP™

Dow Chemical Company

saran wrap n. : plastic food storage wrap


JEEP™

Chrysler Corporation

jeep n.; jeeps n. pl. : compact sport-utility station wagon


VICKS™

Warner-Lambert Company

vicks, vix n. : nasal decongestant cream


WEBSTER’S™

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

webster’s, websters n. : pocket or desk reference dictionary


ALKA SELTZER™

Bayer Corporation

alka seltzer n. : effervescent antacid soda


SPAM™

Hormel Foods Corporation

spam n. : smoked pork and ham luncheon loaf; slang (usually all caps) random and innapropriate facsimile advertising, esp. UBE and UCE

spam v.; spammed v. p.; spamming v. pr. : slang (usually all caps) to post or send broadcast or commercial facsimiles


BISQUICK™

General Mills, Incorporated

bisquick n. : instant pancake mix


CHEERIOS™

General Mills, Incorporated

cheerios n. : toasted o-shaped oats


RICE KRISPIES™

Kellogg Company

rice krispies n. : toasted crispy rice cereal

rice krispies treat, rice krispy treat n. : marshmellow rice bar


TWIZZLERS™

Hershey Foods Corporation

twizzlers n. : fruit-twist confectionary


LYCRA™

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)

lycra n. : nylon spandex

lycra adj. : consisting of nylon spandex


COOL WHIP™

Kraft Foods, Incorporated

cool whip, cool-whip n. : pre-whipped cream topping


PEPSI™

PepsiCo, Incorporated

pepsi n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink


GATORADE™

The Gatorade Company

gatorade n. : nutrition supplement drink


TYLENOL™

Johnson & Johnson

tylenol n. : acetaminophine tablets


HALLS™

Warner-Lambert Company

halls n. : vapor-action cough suppressent tablet


LEGO™

The Lego Group

lego n.; legos n. pl. : plastic, snap-action building block


ROLODEX™

Newell Company

rolodex n. : rotary card file; slang contact directory


VASELINE™

Chesebrough-Pond's Incorporated

vaseline n. : pure petroleum jelly


CHAP STICK™

American Home Products Corporation

chap stick n. : flavored lip balm stick


Q-TIPS™

Chesebrough-Pond's Incorporated

q-tip n.; q-tips n. pl. : cotton swab applicator


MUZAK™

Muzak, L.P.

muzak n. : contemporary instrumental music; nonvocal nuage-pop-jazz blend; slang elevator music

muzak v.; muzaked v. p.; muzaking v. pr. : to form into muzak


CAROID™

The Mentholatum Company

caroid n. : oral hygiene tooth powder


POP TART™

Kellogg Company

pop tart n.; pop tarts n. pl. : toaster pastry

I always keep a fresh supply of frosted pop tarts in my desk drawer.


WALKMAN™

Sony Corporation

walkman n.; walkmans n. pl. : handheld radio-cassette player

Wait, don't most walkmans come with a pair of earphones?


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Copyright © 1997-2009, Randall E. Krause. All rights reserved.