15 Everyday Words That Started Out As Brand Names Because Capitalism Is Inescapable
Advertising is everywhere. Some of it we notice; some of it is just part of the landscape and would be more noticeable if it wasn’t there. Logos on clothes, referring to your car by its brand name, declaring the onset of Miller Time — we spend half our lives being advertised to and the other half advertising.
Naturally, advertising has changed language. There are endless hideous words used by advertisers themselves — edutainment, infomercial and so on — but also a huge amount of words that began as trademarks before being used so much that they lost the capital letter. This is known as genericization, and brands absolutely fucking hate it.
You’d think they’d be happy, as it means their product has seeped into the public consciousness, but once a brand name becomes genericized, other brands can use it. Xerox, for instance, is used as a generic verb by a lot of people — “Hey look, I xeroxed my ass!” — which enrages the Xerox Corporation, who insist “you cannot ‘xerox’ a document, but you can copy it on a Xerox Brand copying machine.”