Submitted by solgarfunkel  •  January 10, 2005

Coke, kleenex, xerox

HELP! I understand that coke, kleenex and xerox are examples of synecdoches, but I believe that there is a word for the specific kind of synecdoche where a brand name has come to mean the generic name for a product. This search has been driving me moderately insane. Any help you can give will be truly appreciated by myself, my family, and my pharmacist.

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I sent this reply 4 years ago and the link has been broken since then. Here is a new link. http://www.rinkworks.com/words/eponyms.shtml

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They are called proprietary eponyms.
Heres the link to most of them:

http://www.prairienet.org/~rkrause/brands.html

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Hey, thanks Jason Wolpers, really interesting and surprising (to me) link.

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Here, someone asks basically the same question:
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/meponym.html

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Sol, the word for what is going on when a brand name becomes a standard English term seems to be "genericide," oddly enough. http://www.wordspy.com/words/genericide.asp

The most commonly used phrase for such a term appears to be "generic word."

There is some consensus on these new words, but no hard-and-fast rule. Language is like that.

And why is your pharmacist upset? He's making a profit. Maybe there are some other issues there. (just kidding) :)

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I knew it was only a matter of time before we'd see this happen; I just didn't think we'd see...

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