Sunday, August 15, 2010

Proprietary Eponyms

Q-Tip or Cotton Swab?

Eponyms are names from which another name is derived. For example, Romulus gave rise to Rome and the word sandwich coming from the Earl of Sandwich. Proprietary Eponyms could also be called Genericized Trademarks. These are general words that are or used to be proprietary brand names. Kleenex, for example, is a brand of facial tissue, and yet the word is used to refer to tissues of any brand. Xerox is a brand of photocopy machine. The same word has also been adopted to refer to any brand of photocopy machine and we've even gone a step further, using it as a verb to describe the actual act of photocopying!

Here's a list of common defunct trademarks that are used generically:

  • Aspirin
  • Brassiere
  • Cellophane
  • Celluloid
  • Escalator
  • Granola
  • Jungle Gym
  • Kerosene
  • Linoleum
  • Saran Wrap
  • Yo-yo
  • Zipper

And there are active trademarks often used generically:

  • Alka Seltzer
  • AstroTurf
  • Band Aid
  • Chapstick
  • Coke
  • Kool-Aid
  • Dixie Cups
  • Dumpster
  • Frisbee
  • Hi-lighter
  • Jacuzzi
  • Jello
  • Palm Pilot
  • Play-Doh
  • Polaroid
  • Scotch Tape
  • Skivvies
  • Super Glue
  • Teflon
  • Thermos
  • TV Dinner
  • Walkman
  • Windbreaker

So, do you say adhesive bandage or Band Aid? Jello or gelatin?

And honestly, I didn't know anybody said 'Skivvies'. LOL!

info gathered from fun-with-words.com and wiki.

post idea from my good friend David M. Lynch


  1. It's funny the things that we just take for granted. I wouldn't have given this any thought without your post...now my mind won't turn off. I'll be looking everywhere all weekend!

  2. Magpie ~ I say a lot of them...Q-tip and Coke for starters!

  3. this is too cool betsy...i do say a lot of these without even thinking about it....

  4. Even I didn't know Saran Wrap was "defunct." They really don't make that particular brand of plastic wrap any more? [leaves to begin Google search]

    [returning prematurely] Hey, wouldn't "Google" be a new one, using it as a verb to mean the use of any internet search engine?!?

  5. Mr. Fox ~ I'm always telling people to "Google it!" and I don't necessarily mean to use the Google search engine specifically! :)

  6. Yep. And someone needs to tell the people at that website that Saran Wrap is still an active brand. (Yeah, I really did check!)

    Thanks for the shout-out, by the way.

  7. Band Aid, jello, and kleenex. Here Xerox is a company where almost everyone's daddy but mine used to work. (My Aunt Margie did work there though...) How about a Kodak moment? (My daddy didn't work there either...) Is it still a Kodak moment even if I have an Olympus camera?

    We still have Saran Wrap here.

  8. Heh, heh! I think we just had this same conversation over on Alan's News from Nowhere blog earlier this week. As Baino pointed out then, this is how language develops. Although I still think it's hilarious that all over the world of the former British Commonwealth people all "hoover" their carpets, no matter what brand of vacuum cleaner they're using.

  9. Roy ~ thanks for the headsup about Alan's post...I've been busy with auctions all week and haven't been visiting! I'll go check it out!

  10. I try to use Skivvies in at least 5 or 6 sentences each day. Such as, "I've got to wash my Skivvies tomorrow before I run out of them." Or how about, "It's time to shop for new Skivvies. All of mine are air-conditioned." Or, "The Queen puts on her Skivvies one foot at a time, so don't let her intimidate you."

  11. Interesting - some of those names have crossed international boundaries and some haven't. I'd call those cotton buds. I have a Hoover though (even though it's a Panasonic vacuum cleaner)!

  12. Some call it bathroom tissue. I call it toilet paper. LOL

  13. Betsy, that is so interesting :-) English is not my mother tongue so this makes it all double more interesting for me :-) happy w-e!

  14. I stopped saying Kleenex about a year ago when I realized not all boxes were the brand name and now I say tissue. Tissue doesn't roll off my tongue like Kleenex did though.

  15. Stevie ~ LOL! You are hilarious1 OK, now I admit that if they are airconditioned it's time to buy new. Sounds like my boys' socks!
    I'd love to hear you say that with your southern accent! ;)

  16. Band Aid, Jello and of course all soft drinks are Coke/ha

  17. I just popped by from The Sunday Roast over at Eddie Bluelights place........ where* Mmm* from *Mr Toast* actually recommended you as a jolly good blogger to Roast.
    Well I felt I wanted to click your link and see who this lady was with 5 men in her life! Really Intrigued.

    Anyway..... I am now looking at your lovely blog and in answer to your question...... Jello = gelatin (or rather jelly) and Band Aid is known as a STICKING PLASTER over here.
    If you want to find out about this Roast go to Eddybluelights@blogspot.com on his blog Clouds & Silvery Linings it is good fun.

    Nuts in May

  18. Oh what a fun post. Funny without your wealth of information, I would never have known these fun words work.

    Some things we've said for years and never gave it a thought....I'll be looking now too...but my nose is running so I better go find the kleenex ~~~oops, mine are actually Whisper Soft from Homelife!!!!

  19. military guys say skivvies :)

    and your morning glories are so pretty!

  20. lol@skivvies.Wow this is interesting.LoL@brassiere too.So funny.I say jello, and I say bandaide.Great blog Betsy!

  21. Oh, I say bandaid, kleenex and also jello..there are more too! Great and interesting post! Thanks for sharing.


  22. How interesting, Betsy! I definitely use a lot of them! And...I say 'Skivvies'! lol I took a look at your wonderful chair! You are right! Great minds do think alike! I love the back of yours! And mine had 4 layers of fabric on the seat. It seems our chiars have been around a time or two! Happy weekend!...hugs...Debbie

  23. skivvies, thats funny

    also hoover - as a noun and a verb!

  24. I think I use all the ones you mentioned. They're just easier to say. I mean q-tip vs. cotton swab or Band Aid vs. adhesive bandage. I guess I'm lazy! Loved the comment about "sticking plasters"! Never heard that before!

  25. I love it! And yes, my husband sometimes says skivvies.

  26. As an old art teacher I couldn't break the habit of calling all markers, magic markers. That is because that was the only thing available for years.

  27. LD ~ I haven't thought of 'magic' markers for years! But I do remember calling them that! :)

  28. I just thought of another one I say! Windex!..no matter what the brand of glass cleaner it is! ;)

  29. These were fun! I say skivvies for fun occasionally, but not usually. I sure didn't know it was an active trademark. I'd check it out, but I'm afraid of the pictures that might pop up on my computer.

  30. Very neat list. I catch myself all the time, for example Kool-Aid when i'm actually drinking crystal light, the Kleenex thing for tissues, yeah…it's just one of those conventions. Glad you compiled all of these, some I never new like Brassiere , kerosene and Celluloid to name a few. Very informative. Just more things to catch yourself saying :)


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