Proprietary Eponyms and How They Ruin Your Life

First off, I would like to clearly define what a proprietary eponym is. According to the accredited source of Wikitionary.com (which is apparently Wikipedia’s version of a dictionary) a proprietary eponym is

“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.”

(Sorry about the unnecessary block quote, I’ve always just really liked them.) So another simple example would be saying: “Mom, I need a bandage.” Instead of saying: “Mom, I need a Band Aid.” Band Aid is a brand name and thus would mean you used a proprietary eponym. Annoying, right?

Well that is not the only time you’ve been incorrect, I promise. Ever since I was made aware of these so-called proprietary eponyms, I have made an all-too-conscious effort to try to stay away from using them. Not because I want to be correct, mainly just because it’s a fun game to play and it makes you sound incredibly intelligent when you tell someone they just used a proprietary eponym.

Some more common proprietary eponyms include:

Post-It Note (Sticky note)

Jell-O (Gelatin dessert)

Scotch Tape (transparent adhesive tape)

Coke ]For those of us in the South] (Soda, Pop, Soda-pop)

Crock Pot (Slow cooker)

Chapstick (Lip Balm)

Onesies (infant bodysuit) ]I know, are you kidding me? Who came up with that??]

Saran Wrap (plastic wrap)

Kool-Aid (flavored drink mix)

There are many, many, many others. Now you will be aware, like me, when you or your friends use a proprietary eponym and I hope it becomes one of your pet peeves like it has become one of mine. Also, on a side note, I don’t think proprietary eponyms ruin your life. It just seemed like a nice title.

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