People having a conversation. Words that are in fact brand names featured image.

Brands often become so commonplace in culture that their literary expressions make their way into everyday vocabulary and become generic terms. Formally, these are called generic trademarks. This can happen for many reasons but usually a company introduces a product with a distinctive brand name that becomes so popular that instead of describing a product from a specific manufacturer, the brand name describes a type of product or even a whole product category.

Here are the ones that have been most common in popular culture.

1. Thermos

Thermos is in fact a trademark held by the German company Thermos, founded in 1904. The correct term is vacuum insulated flask. However, since 1962, every brand where allowed to mark bottles with lower case “thermos” as the word had been rule as generic.

silver vacuum flask on brown dried grass

2. Frisbee

Frisbee is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company and is strictly speaking a type of a flying disc.

3. Google

To Google-it is such a common expression that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2006.

4. Jet Ski

Go to any sunny resort and you will be offered Jet Ski tours. It may be on actual Jet Ski’s but more likely you will dash around in a personal watercraft.

5. Chapstick

Correct usage is ChapStick. A lip balm produced by GlaxoSmithKline.

6. Kleenex

In the US, Kleenex is used to refer to facial tissues. In reality its just one product offered under the brand name Kleenex in addition to paper towels, tampons and diapers.

7. Jacuzzi

Refers to a jetted bathtub or a hot tub and takes its name from its inventors; the Jacuzzi brothers.

8. Sharpie

Sharpie is a brand of markets produced by Newell Brands.

9. Tupperware

In many households, any air-proof container is called a tupperware.

10. PowerPoint

The presentation software is often used as slang creating and delivering slideshows or presentation in English speaking offices around the world.

11. Dumpster

Dumpster was actually the trademarked name for a standardized containers that could be loaded onto garbage trucks in the Dempster-Dumpster system.

12. Photoshop

Adobe is adamant that you should not use Photoshop as a verb and don’t like it when people talk about photoshopping images. Despite the brand’s stance, using Photoshop as a verb or noun is common.

13. Vaseline

Vaseline a brand name for petroleum jelly owned by Unilever.

14. Astroturf

AstroTurf was originally a brand name for artificial grass used for sports fields. Today, the word is both used as a shorthand for all artificial grass and as a slang for concealing the real sponsors of a message or organization such as in politics, advertising and public relations.

15. Scotch tape

Scotch Tape is a registered trademark of 3M.

16. Zipper

The Universal Fastener Company introduced a separable fastened called Zipper in 1917. Today, the technology is essentially identical and is spoken of as a zipper.

17. Popsicle

Introduced in 1905, Popsicle has become a generic term for a frozen ice treat on a stick. The trademark is currently owned by Unilever.

pink Popsicle with cherries on ice

18. Xerox

Not common with the upcoming generations but people used to Xerox documents as in making photocopies.

19. Post-its

Post-Its belong to a popular type of sticky notes that are manufactured by 3M. It’s universally used for sticky notes.

20. Styrofoam

The iconic soft foamy material used for insulation such as packaging, takeaway boxes and beer coolers is in reality a brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam. The trademark is owned by DuPont.

21. Taser

Factual use would be stun gun. The trademark for Taser is owned by TASER International.

22. Band-aid

I’m sure you didn’t ask for an adhesive bandage when you scratched your knee. Admittedly, usage is mostly bound to the US where Johnson & Johnson holds the trademark.

23. Ziploc

The genius resealable and reusable zipper bags were initially introduced by The Dow Chemical Company but is now a registered trademark owned by S. D. Johnson & Son.

24. Kevlar

Poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide (K29) – or Kevlar, is featured at some point in almost any law enforcement action movie and TV series, but originally its intended use was for strong but lightweight tires. DuPont holds the trademark.

25. Q-tip

How this stuck I simply don’t know (I mean probably because of market share, but still…). Supposedly, the “Q” is supposed to stand for “Quality”. Today, Unilever holds the trademark.

26. Rollerblades

Would correctly be Rollerblade’s since that is the name of the inline skates brand it originates from.

27. Allen wrench

Allen wrench or Allen key is a Hex key and is a protected trademark owned by Apex Tool Group. You will rarely hear cycling enthusiasts speak of a hex key however… always Allen key/wrench.

Free Set of various metal hex keys Stock Photo

28. Skype

Skype was the first major video-communications brand and earned a status as a verb: to have a spoken conversation with (someone) over the internet using the software application Skype, typically also viewing by webcam. However, like Skype, it is rarely used anymore.

29. Zoom

The fresher and trendier Skype alternative became one of the main terms associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in the rapid shift to work-from-home schemes. Instead of saying “should we video call?” people simply say “zoom?”

30. Velcro

When Swiss engineer George de Mestral discovered Velcro it was a type of hook-and-loop fastener. Today, however, that is synonymous with Velcro.

31. Trampoline

The proper term is in fact a rebound tumbler; trampoline is a brand name.

32. Windbreaker

Popular in running, cycling, hiking and other outdoors vocabulary where it means a lightweight, wind and light rain resistant, jacket.

purple and orange jacket

33. Zamboni

Takes its name after its founder, Frank Zamboni, and should strictly speaking be referred to as an ice-surfacing machine.

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