What is the term for that phenomenon?
February 26, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

What is it called when a brand name becomes so ubiquitous that it becomes a descriptor for the action or item itself, e.g. Xerox and Kleenex?

Is there a word that describes that phenomenon? For example, the term xerox has been used to often to describe photocopying something that it has become a term for photocopying itself. What is this called?
posted by lazaruslong to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by exogenous at 11:50 AM on February 26, 2007

Response by poster: thank you!
posted by lazaruslong at 11:52 AM on February 26, 2007

Best answer: wikipedia on genericide
the term has always bothered me as a sort of malapropism, but it seems we're stuck with it.
posted by exogenous at 11:52 AM on February 26, 2007

Brand eponym, or, simply, eponym.
posted by chudder at 11:55 AM on February 26, 2007

See also trademark dilution.
posted by cortex at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2007

Everywhere except the US, "Aspirin" is a trademark belonging to Bayer. But they lost control of it here.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2007

Just a side note that other countries have their own lovely variants. Off the top of my head, the UK has Hoover, Sellotape and Blu-Tak to name but a few...
posted by ob at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2007

Canada has Javex, we have Clorox, Germany has Tesafilm, we have Scotch Tape...Which reminds me how difficult it is to ask for such items in a foreign country. If it is known generically by the brand name.
posted by Gungho at 1:03 PM on February 26, 2007

Gungho, you just describe what you want. Instead of Scotch Tape, you ask for transparent tape. Instead of Post-It Notes, you ask for sticky notes. Instead of Kleenex, you ask for facial tissue. Each one of those brand names you list has a little subtitle underneath that is a descriptor. Clorox Bleach, Xerox Photocopier, TiVo digital video recorder, etc.
posted by MeetMegan at 1:56 PM on February 26, 2007

Most marketers would say "trademark dilution" before they'd say "genericide".
posted by acoutu at 2:34 PM on February 26, 2007

It's kind of funny, but journalism industry magazines often run ads from these trademarked names, like Kleenex, Tobasco, Realtor, reminding reporters that those names are tradmarked and that they should be recognized as such. I hope the ads help.
posted by printchick at 2:48 PM on February 28, 2007

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