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Brand Names Turned to Common Nouns

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Whether we’re talking about Sony’s Walkman or a 3M’s Post-it Note, there are some of the landmark brand names that made it so far that their trademarks turn into common nouns. And this should be the good part of branding: a brand name on everybody’s lips.

Meanwhile there are cases that we use such a noun without even thinking that the word itself used to be a registred brand name, say escalator for example. This is the downside in terms of branding.

Well, these words are called eponyms.

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 (product or service mark) which has fallen into general use.

So, what leads a brand name to become eponym? Well, for one thing, other brands of similar nature 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. A usual result: lower case transcription of the brand name.

In this matter there is the American Proprietary Eponyms website, which have some of the most common eponyms in english language.

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alex, Kate & Gez // Jul 14, 2009 at 12:31 am

    We came up with a few of these – frisbee, coke, sellotape, kilner jar, hoover, biro, jeep, brillo pad, speedos. There’s lots of them but really hard to think of!! Ask your friends to think of some – there’ll be long moments of silence interrupted by smug answers!! We use these words more often than we realise. I’m pretty sure Heroin and Aspirin are (or were?) registered names also. (Smug).

  • 2 Jordyn & Tasha // Aug 16, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    We just made this our little game of trying to think of as many brand name words turned common day words. We so far came up with Q-tip, kleenex, pampers, and windex! We going to see how many we can fin!

  • 3 Connie & Peggy // Aug 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Here are ones we came up with: band-aid, popsicle, jello, scotch tape, miracle whip, tylenol,

  • 4 Mike Ashworth // Jan 26, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Science has given us a lot of products and I asked a group of children if they could come up with some during a primary school science lesson.
    Teflon, nylon, polythene, styrofoam, Lucozade, Pampers, and Nescafe were some examples

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