American Proprietary Eponyms

There I was Googling “proprietary” for a story about misuse of the word when I came across this gem from R.Krause:

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.

Yes, R. has a bunch of them listed, Xerox, Jell-O, Velcro, and more. Too bad it was last updated in 1997. I wonder when “Google” turned from brand name to verb.

American Proprietary Eponyms

Database updated December 8, 1997

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.

We’ve all seen it happen. The trademarks of today become the household word of tomorrow. Well, some 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 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.

Now, here’s the twist: Brand names are, in fact, neither nouns nor verbs, but the rare case of proper adjectives. To recognize such words, a noun such as brand and/or a noun phrase defining 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 better stated Use some SARAN WRAP brand food storage wrap, which not only shows respect, but precludes misinterpretation.


DBAPE is an ongoing personal project of mine, being designed and developed primarily for cross reference. I’ve included various brand names (trademarks), their respective owners (tradenames), and any commonly misunderstood forms (lowercase, 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 are coming soon. In the mean time, if you find any discrepancies or perhaps have a word to add, please drop me a note. Thanks for visiting.

— R. Krause


Xerox Corporation

xerox n; xeroxes n. pl. : photocopy

Julian requested a xerox of all relevant marketing materials.

xerox v.; xeroxed v. p.; xeroxing v. pr. : to photocopy

Can you xerox these within the hour?

xerox machine n. : electronic xerography machine

We must purchase more xerox machines for the office.

xerox paper n. : paper for use in photocopiers


Kimberly-Clark Corporation

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

Dry your excess lipstick with this piece of kleenex.


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 bandaids.


The Coca Cola Company

coke n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink

Coke, the beverage of choice for us teens!


The Coca Cola Company

cola n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink


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.


Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M)

scotch tape n. : cellophane adhesive tape

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


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.


BIC Corporation

wite-out, white out, white-out n. : 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.

Another possible variation of the verb wite-out is the construction white…off as in Could you please white my name off that agreement.


Dow Chemical Company

styrofoam n. : extruded polystyrene insulating foam

styrofoam adj. : consisting of extruded polystyrene foam


Kraft Foods, Incorporated

jell-o, jello n. : fruit flavored gelatin


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 Industries B.V.

velcro n. : hook and loop fastener; touch fastener

velcro adj. : consisting of hook and loop or touch fasteners

The black velcro sandals seem to fit the best.


Top Thermo Manufacturing SDN BHD

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


Otis Elevator Company

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


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


Warner-Lambert Company

listerine n. : antiseptic mouthwash


Dow Chemical Company

saran wrap n. : plastic food storage wrap


Chrysler Corporation

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


Warner-Lambert Company

vicks, vix n. : nasal decongestant cream


Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

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


Bayer Corporation

alka seltzer n. : effervescent antacid soda


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


General Mills, Incorporated

bisquick n. : instant pancake mix


General Mills, Incorporated

cheerios n. : toasted o-shaped oats


Kellogg Company

rice krispies n. : toasted crispy rice cereal

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


Hershey Foods Corporation

twizzlers n. : fruit-twist confectionary


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

lycra n. : nylon spandex

lycra adj. : consisting of nylon spandex


Kraft Foods, Incorporated

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


PepsiCo, Incorporated

pepsi n. : soda pop; color carbonated soft drink


The Gatorade Company

gatorade n. : nutrition supplement drink


Johnson & Johnson

tylenol n. : acetaminophine tablets


Warner-Lambert Company

halls n. : vapor-action cough suppressent tablet


The Lego Group

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


Newell Company

rolodex n. : rotary card file; slang contact directory


Chesebrough-Pond’s Incorporated

vaseline n. : pure petroleum jelly


American Home Products Corporation

chap stick n. : flavored lip balm stick


Chesebrough-Pond’s Incorporated

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


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


The Mentholatum Company

caroid n. : oral hygiene tooth powder


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.


Sony Corporation

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

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


By accessing this site, DBAPE, the client acknowledges the following:

Material on this site, including, but not limited to trademarks, servicemarks, patents, and intellectual property, are the exclusive copyright of the respective owners. No attempt is made to dilute the distinctiveness of or infringe on the respective rights regarding the proprietary words contained on this site.

DBAPE in no way endorses, approves, or claims rights to or ownership of the products, services, or companies which are refered to in this site.

DBAPE is provided on an “as-is” basis for brand recognition and reference purposes only. No guarantee is made that the content shall be completely accurate or error-free.

DBAPE is designed exclusively for residents of the United States. If DBAPE is used from locations outside of the United States, the client is responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws.

DBAPE is not necessarily affiliated with sites which may have linked to this site or which this site links to and is not responsible for their content.

Copyright 1997, CONCENTRIC. All rights reserved.