Proprietary Eponyms Catalogue

I chose 12 Proprietary Eponyms out of all these suggestions that arrived from all over the world to my inbox: Kodak, Xerox, Bic, Aspirin, Q-Tip, Styrofoam, Windex, Ketchup, Post it, Nescafe, Nesquik, Spax, Google, Rolodex, Filofax, Tupperware, Walkman, Phillips Screw, Lego, Pampers, Black & Decker, Vespa, Fridge (Frigidaire), Keds, Band-Aids, Cellophane, BMX Granola, Zipper, Yo-Yo, Nicorette, Nutella, Tampaz, Sharpie, X-Acto, La-Z-Boy, Velcro, Play-Doh, Zambuk, Lip Ice, BluTack, Chapstick, Skype, FedEx, Kraft Dinner, Tippex, Disprin, Dettol, Chupa Chups, Hoover, Jeep, Rollerblade, Gillete, Kispo, Formica, Cool Whip, TiVo, Linoleum, Guiness, Coke, Plexiglas, ZipLock, Saran Wrap, iPod, Frisbee, UHU, Tixo, Obi, Goiserer, Tesa, Patez, Tempo, Philadelphia, Zippo, Stanley, Scottex, Frigo, Sopalin, Vaseline, Chiclet, Labello, Cimbalino, Zewa, Edding, Nivea, Speedo, Slinky, Gladwrap, Sunlight, Prestik, Kreepy Krauly, Radenska, Superga, Spa, Stanley Knife.

Here is the result.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/freduarte/sets/72157608708661776/

Thank you so much to everyone who sent their suggestions.



41 Comments

  1. […] Observer: Observed on 10 Nov 2008 A catalog of proprietary eponyms. […]

  2. Jeff wrote:

    I am afraid you aren’t using the word eponym correctly.

    In most of the cases you cite, these are merely brand names that have become synonymous with the product they are–very successful marketing, but not eponyms.

    Eponyms are people whose name are the source of words.
    Examples: Daguerreotype, Dolby noise reduction system, Geiger counter, Braille, Guillotine, Ferris wheel. . .

    Almost none of your examples meet this criterion–. You are really talking about Trademarked brand names.

  3. 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.

  4. Jeff wrote:

    I agree we’ve all seen it happen. I agree that the process which you describe does indeed occur and is interesting to observe. But I am making point about the language used to describe it.

    An eponym is not, as you suggest, a general term. It is a very specific term. Just as “bird” is a general term. “Northern cardinal” is a specific term.

    I don’t want to get into the whole “language is always evolving”-thing, but if language is to continue to be useful, different words should mean different things. And what you describe is simply not an eponym.

    I am not pointing this out to be rude. I am just interested in words and the way we use language.

    To your subsequent point, I would think that, rather than being the price companies pay for a successful product, they would consider it the pinnacle achievement of product development and marketing to have a brand name synonymous with the product itself.

  5. Mind the Qualifier wrote:

    Jeff —
    Where do you see any reference simply to eponyms? Just curious, because I see one instance where eponym is modified by “proprietary.” Perhaps you missed that?

    To argue the difference between “general” and “specific” while simultaneously NOT noting the difference between words and language is both silly and pedestrian.

  6. Jeff wrote:

    I take from your tone and your calling my arguments “silly and pedestrian” that you are adopting a dug-in defensive position and you are sticking to it. Fine. Use whichever words you wish, to mean whatever you want. It’s your little corner of the Internets. In the postmodern information age, “rules” are for squares. I get it.

    Sorry, but I do not believe that adding “proprietary” in front of a word changes its meaning. (No, perhaps I didn’t miss that.) A “proprietary” Northern cardinal is still a bird, but it is NOT a bluejay, no matter how you spin it.

    My impossible-to-prove speculation is: It seems that you really like the word eponym and are determined to defend its use here, despite its rigid inability to mean what you want it to mean.

    Whatever. It obviously doesn’t matter to anybody else and I won’t bother you further. I didn’t expect anyone to throw me a parade for pointing out this mistake, but I didn’t expect to be mocked, either. Congratulations. You chased off the only person who bothered to post a comment.

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  8. Frederico wrote:

    I think you are wrong. Your list is not made of eponym. It’s a list of metonymy. Many eponyms derive from deliberate choices to call a product, invention, or scientific discovery after the PERSON most closely associated with it, for example: macadam, guillotine, pasteurisation. See: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metonymy

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