A New York Times article by Nick Bilton has language professionals all atwitter, or at least "twittering," about the marketing success of some IT brand names so commonly used that they have become verbs. "The success of brands in technology, like Photoshop and Google, has opened people’s eyes to the fact that becoming a verb is not always a bad thing," Mr. Shapiro, an editor and trademark consultant, said.
Since at least the 1940s, some popular brand names, such as fridge, kleenex, tampax, thermos and band-aid, have become generic common names. Hoover vacuums spawned a verb, to hoover (chiefly British). Named after the man who commercialized them, hoover is considered a proprietary eponym rather than just an eponym (a person after or for whom something is named), because it is a brand name. Such commonly used words are also referred to as genericized trademarks or generic trademarks. Much to the Xerox company’s chagrin, its name became synonymous with photocopiers and started being used as a verb.
It is still popular to say "look in the fridge" (from Frigidaire) rather than "in the refrigerator," "pass me the box of kleenex" and not the "box of facial tissues." FedEx, photoshop and facebook are some other eponymous verbs, e.g. "I facebooked that link."
The same phenomenon exists in French. The usual translation for tweet is twitter or tweeter in French, although gazouiller is making some inroads in newspapers: "Je l’ai twitté." - "C’est très tendance de gazouiller (tweeter) durant le party de Noël."
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|tags: verb, eponym, translation, French, english, brand, photoshop, Google, twitter, trademark, technology|