Tuesday, April 25, 2017

X is for Xerox and other brand names that have become either nouns or verbs #AtoZchallenge

Whenever I do a challenge that involves writing about a topic that begins with x, I think so much that I could probably send smoke signals calling for help.

I decided to go with Xerox. My third printer that I ever owned in my life was a cute, multifunctional Xerox. It looked like an old-school telephone. The receiver part was a handheld scanner. You could take it off to scan, or you could feed your paper through it while it was securely on the printer. I loved it, but it died.

Xerox is one of those brand names that ended up being a verb. Did you xerox that contract? It became a synonym for photocopy.

I first learned about this phenomenon of a brand name becoming a noun or a verb when I was fourteen years old. I travelled with my mom to Hong Kong. It was my first time on Cathay Pacific airlines.

I had nicked my finger. I asked one of the cabin staff to get me a Band-Aid. She didn't know what I had meant, so I explained it to her a bit more. She then said that I was looking for a bandage and got me one.

Growing up, we always referred to the average bandage strip as being a Band-Aid. It's interesting how I took that for granted.

When I think about this incident, it made me more aware of the English language. I also became better at explaining myself. I suppose that this experience sparked my ultimate destiny of becoming a writer by trade.

The same goes with grabbing a Kleenex. We grab a tissue before we sneeze. Well, at least we hope that we're that prepared.

Then, there are Q-tips. Do you have any Q-tips? We need cotton swabs.

I suppose we take brand names and say them so much that they become verbs. Look at Google, the search engine. Go ahead and look up that term. Google it.

English is a fascinating, confusing language. It never gets dull to me.


  1. You are so right, CB...I've done the same with Band-Aids, Kleenex and Q-Tips. Have also seen people order a Coke when they don't mean Coca-Cola at all but any coke like product such as Pepsi, RC Cola, etc.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. Ooh, that's a good point about saying Coke. It's gets more complicated in the States, depending on where you are. And, I don't get the difference between pop and soda. That's okay, because I'll always be a tourist. =)

  2. I've never really thought about this before but it's so true. It's like Sellotape (a British brand of sticky tape) has become a name for all types of see through tape, a hoover is a very when it was once just a brand.
    I also find it interesting as depending where you're from different brands have become different verbs/nouns. I mean, while I know what a Band-Aid is thanks to books and TV shows, in the UK we'd just say plaster.
    Today on my A-Z of Favourite Things, X is for X-Men.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! That's true about what brand names are popular in your country or area, and how they end up being turned into nouns or verbs.

      It's a good thing that Canada is a part of the commonwealth, as I recognize what plaster means, but I wouldn't use it as much as Band-Aid, which is a popular North American brand name. These days, I try to avoid using brand names when I travel abroad, so I don't get as many odd stares of confusion when I do.