Monday, January 4, 2010

An Incomplete List of Eponyms

An eponym is proper noun that is used to refer to generic items. My recent blogs about Q-tips and Kleenex are prime examples of this.

In my opinion, the fact that we use a brand name as a generic term says a lot about the brand. It means it is ubiquitous, it is everywhere, it has clogged our brains to the point that we can’t even think about what the generic term is anymore!

For some companies, though, this is upsetting because it becomes more and more difficult to defend their trademark of the brand name. An interesting article on this can be found at the Vitamin IMC blog (which is written by students in the integrated marketing communications program at Northwestern).

Below are several examples of brand names and their generic counterparts. You can also test your knowledge of several eponyms by taking a brief quiz at

The Semi-Official List of Eponyms
• Chapstick (lip balm)
• Xerox (copy machine)
• Band-Aid (adhesive bandage)
• Fridge or Fridgedaire
• Hoover (vacuum)
• Levis (jeans)
• Rollerblades
• Escalator (power-driven stair system)
• Coke (cola)
• Tampax (tampon)
• Kotex (tampon)
• Trojan (condom)
• Binki (pacifier)
• Post-its (self-stick removable reminder note)
• Jell-o (gelatin)
• Visine (eye drops)
• Frisbee (toy flying saucer)
• Google (to perform a web-based search)
• Kool-Aid (instant lemonade, soft drink mix)
• Scotch tape (cellophane adhesive tape)
• Popsicle (colored ice candy on a stick)
• White-out (typographical correction fluid)
• Styrofoam (extruded polystyrene foam)
• Velcro (hook and loop fastener)
• Thermos (thermal insulated flask)
• Hi-lighter (pen-style highlighting marker)
• Listerine (antiseptic mouth wash)
• Saran wrap (plastic food storage wrap)
• Jeep (compact sport-utility station wagon)
• Vicks (nasal decongestant cream)
• Webster’s (pocket or desk reference dictionary)
• Alka-Seltzer (effervescent antacid)
• Spam (smoked pork and ham loaf)
• Bisquick (instant pancake mix)
• Cheerios (toasted oats)
• Rice Crispies (toasted rice cereal)
• Twizzlers (strawberry-flavored licorice)
• Lycra (nylon spandex)
• Cool-whip (whipped cream topping)
• Pepsi (soda pop)
• Tylenol (acetaminophen tablets)
• Halls (cough drops)
• Lego (plastic building blocks)
• Rolodex (rotary card file)
• Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
• Muzak (elevator music)
• Pop Tart (toaster pastry)
• Walkman (handheld radio cassette player)
• Aspirin
• Yo-yo
• Zipper
• AstroTurf (fake grass)
• Breathalyzer (device to test level of drunkenness)
• Brillo Pads (cleaning pads)
• Hula-Hoop
• Jacuzzi (whirlpool hot tub)
• Jockey Shorts (underpants)
• Magic Marker (semi-permanent marker)
• Ping-Pong (table tennis)
• Play-doh (modeling clay)
• Slim Jim (packaged beef stick)
• Super Glue (adhesive glue)

Related Links
Vitamin IMC blog
Database of American Proprietary Eponyms
The Straight Dope


  1. proprietary eponym (plural proprietary eponyms)

    1.A brand name or trademark of a successful product, that has come into general use to refer to the generic class of objects rather than the specific brand type, without the exclusive rights to said product being lost by the parent company. For example, kleenex is used to describe many types of facial tissue.

  2. genericized trademark.
    is the term u are looking for


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