Is there a name or term used to describe the phenomenon when a brand name becomes so ubiquitous that it is used in place of the product or related verbs?

Some common examples include:

  • Google instead of search
  • Xerox instead of copy
  • Coke instead of cola
  • BluTack instead of sticky tack
  • Coke is neither brand name nor product, though it is one case where the brand and the product actually share a name (Coca-Cola vs The Coca-Cola Company). – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 11 '20 at 18:54
  • Good branding if your company name is synonymous with the verb/noun associated with the product? – Geoff Scott May 11 '20 at 22:09
  • 3
    @JanusBahsJacquet ”Coke” certainly is a brand. It’s a trademark of The Coca-Cola Company, and used as part of many of their product names (Diet Coke, Share a Coke). trademarks.justia.com/714/68/coke-71468708.html – Tim May 12 '20 at 0:47
  • Seems like it might tickle metonymy, too. – TheLoneDeranger Jun 29 '20 at 19:00

These are genericized trademarks/brands.

See Wiktionary for a list and the following definition:

English terms that originate from trademarks, brands and company names which have become genericized; that is, fallen into common usage in the target market's vernacular, even when referring to other competing brands.

According to Wikipedia also known as a generic trademark or proprietary eponym.


I myself haven't seen a special term for this kind of metonymic shift but it is definitely an example of semantic broadening. cf.

Horn 1984: 35:

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Traugott and Dasher 2001: 101

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Sometimes this semantic change is referred to as an instance of eponymization. e.g. Popescu 2019:

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Caveat: some semanticists use eponymization only for a semantic shift involving place names.

I haven't really seen the term "genericization" being used in linguistic research that much.

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