There are plenty of misused words in the English language and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Far more interesting are the words that people knowingly use incorrectly. Trademarks are among the most commonly misused words as they become synonymous with a particular product or action. Here are the top five words everyone knowingly misuses.
Public-address systems are handy when someone reverses into your car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. They are less cool when you forget something important – such as your child – and the front desk staff have to broadcast your name across the entire store. Most people refer to these systems as ‘tannoy’ despite the fact that Tannoy Ltd is a Scotland-based manufacturer of loudspeakers and public-address systems. Founded in London, England in 1926, Tannoy proved so successful that their name has become synonymous with public-address systems. Everyone knows ‘tannoy’ is a trademarked name, not a noun, but its use continues.
Another misused brand name that no one seems to care about, Hoover is synonymous with vacuum cleaners everywhere. Saying ‘Pass me the Hoover’ just seems to roll off the tongue easier than ‘Bring me the vacuum cleaner’. Likewise, asking someone to ‘hoover’ something up is a nicer-sounding verb than ‘vacuum’. With the introduction of the cyclonic Dyson cleaner, things won’t change any time soon.
#3. Baby Names
Earlier this year, the Canadian government went to the extraordinary length of banning five baby names for chronic misuse. It’s astonishing how many parents will knowingly misuse any word they want when naming their offspring. Instead of Timothy, or Tim, a number of people were naming their kids ‘Timmie’ after Canada’s biggest coffee chain Tim Hortons. Deemed a step too far by the government, this name is now official banned to prevent the misuse of a trademarked name.
Pampers is a brand of baby products marketed by Procter & Gamble yet is widely used to refer to disposable nappies. Pampers was at one time only used as a trademark for a disposable nappy yet is now common parlance for any nappy.
Much to the annoyance of the Xerox Corporation, ‘xerox’ experienced such phenomenal growth throughout the 20th century that it officially entered the English language as a verb. The story of Xerox was covered in the 1969 book, “Business Adventures” by the late John Brooks. After Bill Gates claimed this to be his favorite business book, many people have read about the rise of Xerox. Meaning ‘to copy’ or ‘to photocopy’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the trademark ‘Xerox’ is in danger of becoming ‘genericized’. This means that it would not long be trademarked. This would open up its usage to other manufacturers of copier machine. The next time you are standing in line to make a copy at your office’s printer or looking to trade in your machine for a new copier rental, it’s worth bearing in mind that the word you use to mean ‘copy’ is actually a company name.
Which of these trademarks have you misused? Which is your favorite? Let us know which ones we missed and leave us a comment below!
Author Bio: Warren Brown is a freelance blogger and an ace creative write with many years of experience writing for top blogs. Warren has written on a myriad of topics and has written several posts for us.