Attention English Teachers: Google Is Officially A Verb

from the fun-for-the-trademark-lawyers dept

Every summer, it’s always fun to see what new tech-related words make it into the Oxford English Dictionary as official “words.” A few years ago, it was things like “blog,” “cyberslacker,” and “egosurf.” This year, however, the Google lawyers probably won’t be all that thrilled to discover that Google has now been included as a verb. Yes, that’s right. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s now perfectly legitimate to say you “Googled” something. From the standpoint of Google, however, this could take them a step closer to losing the trademark on their own name, as it starts to fall into more common usage. Can Google sue the Oxford English Dictionary?

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Comments on “Attention English Teachers: Google Is Officially A Verb”

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®idiculous ©rap says:

Yep it is. Also, Band-Aid is a noun and a verb.

How can this be anything but good news for Google? It’s not like Yahoo could start advertising to users that they can now “Google directly from the Yahoo homepage!” even if Yahoo wanted to, which they wouldn’t!

As an individual person in my private conversation, if I wish, I can refer to every ‘adhesive bandage’ as a Band-Aid, but 3M can not;

I can refer to every ‘cotton swab’ as a Q-Tip if I want, but Georgia-Pacific can not;

I can refer to every carbonated beverage as a Coke, but Pepsi can not…

Do you need more examples?

Jonh D (profile) says:

Re: Yep it is. Also, Band-Aid is a noun and a ver

A genericized trademark can not longer be legally enforced. This has happened more often than you might think. Below are a few product names that were originally trademarked, but now either are not, or are but are unenforceable. In most cases, the original trademark owner was forced be neccessity to create new names which could then be trademarked again and suffered brand dilution (and loss of market share) until they were able to get the new name known (if they were able to).

(source: Not the complete list, just ones that I felt would be well known.)

Allen wrench (or Allen key)- hexagonal screwdriver (A rarity among generic words, ‘Allen wrench’ is no longer trademarked, but is still capitalized because it is named after a company)

aspirin – ASA (acetylsalicylic acid; remains as a registered trademark in many places around the world in the name of Bayer, but not in the United States)

bikini – two-piece swimsuit for women

brassiere – women’s undergarment used for breast support

cellophane – transparent paper

celluloid – film material

dry ice – frozen carbon dioxide

escalator – moving staircase

formica (plastic) – laminated plastic surface

frisbee – toy plastic flying disc

gramophone – record player

granola – oat and fruit bar

hoagie – sandwich

heroin – narcotic drug; originally registered by Bayer as a pain reliever

hula hoop – toy hoop; originally made of various materials, generic name trademarked by Wham-O when it was redesigned in plastic in the late 1950’s

jungle gym – play structure (from ‘Junglegym’)

LP – long playing record

lanolin – purified, wax-like substance from sheep’s wool

linoleum – floor covering

mimeograph – reproduction machine

photostat – reproduction machine

plasterboard – formed gypsum building material

spandex – polyurethane fiber; an anagram of “expands”; DuPont later introduced new trademark, Lycra

Webster’s dictionary – the publishers with the strongest link to the original are Merriam-Webster, but they have a trademark only on “Merriam-Webster”, and other dictionaries are legally published as “Webster’s Dictionary”

yo-yo – toy

zeppelin – dirigible airship

zipper – zip fastener

Sandah Aung says:

Google is power

This means that one of the influential chronicler of the English has recognised the dominance of Google on the day-to-day language of the people. I think this idea of suing Oxford English Dictionary is absurd since the inclusion of the term only indicates the power of Google to make its way into a global language.

Jedi Wannabe says:

Re: verb with an uppercase?

The reason that this particluar verb is listed as uppercase, jay knite, is that this verb is also a proper name, which is most certainly printed with an uppercase letter. Hmm. A real issue. Google the company would certainly have a problem if their company name was not properly printed with a leading uppercase letter.



BillDivX says:

to the guy wondering...

why google being a oxford verb is bad for google:

When was the last time you called an elevator a “lift,” or “Ascending Room?”

But that’s the name for the device itself! Elevator was a brand name. Now when was the last time you remember seeing an actual Elevator brand “lift?” The point is, that people associate the generic versions with the name, and the actual brand loses it’s identity. the company Elevator isn’t even in business anymore, and tons of other companies call themselves “Elevator” manufacturers. Qtip is a brand which is about halfway there. The real name is “Cotton swab,” QTip is a brand name. But how many people have ever called another brand “Qtip”, probably without even thinking about it.

Once “Google” becomes synonomous with “search,” it will be pretty hard for google to stop it. It doesn’t seem like much now, but the pattern has happened many times. give it 30 years, and Google the company will be gone, and we’ll all be saying “Let’s go google that on MSN” (or something else, I hope we won’t still be using MSN in 30 years…)

wolff000 says:

Re: to the guy wondering...

No its not bad for business. Coke has been used a a generic term for pop for years yet Coke the company is still going strong. Q-Tips is a product name not a brand name they are owned by Unilever. Yes they were a independent company but where bought out in 1986 so sorry but bad comparison. Google is already synonomous with the word search just look it up in the dictionary. Oh and on the elevator issue I often refer to an elevator as a lift as do millions of other people overseas.

Dave Cooper says:

One That Fought

Rollerblade(R) fought this and, despite “No Rollerblading” signs being everywhere, they are in that particular purgatory between Brand Name and Common Usage.

On another note…”google” already has a place in the dictionary, the original meaning before there was a search engine, the number represented by a “1” followed by one hundred zeros. That’s big. Heck, I’d bet that Google is not worth a google pennies.

Dave says:

Re: One That Fought

Yeah, that’s the one that I remember – the Rollerblade thing. It was funny to see their lawyer telling people not to use rollerblading as a verb.

Use of that verb would, of course, tend to increase their business, not damage it. It’s so obviously stupid to try to prevent this that I could only imagine that maybe it was just a craven move by these lawyers to bilk Rollerblade for some more money, or, even more cynically, maybe Rollerblade knew that this was nonsense, but told the lawyers to do it anyway for a quick hit of additional publicity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Will anybody in Generation-X use this verb?

I think a lot of the brand names became common verbs or nouns in casual conversation because of a person’s first few times of hearing the brand name said in that context.

I always ask for a Q-Tip or Kleanex (sp?) or Band-Aid because that’s how my parents referred to them as; however, my grand-parents always use the definition of those brand names such as cotton swab, tissue or bandage. But I never ask something to be Xeroxed (even if it is using a Xerox copies) or say “Let’s go Rollerblading” because those things were invented during my lifetime, and I know what they are.

So I can’t see Google being used as a verb much by people who were born before the invention of a search engine (not many on this site by the looks of it), but it may find it’s way in a later generation.

Professor STFU says:

Bad Oxford

Damn it! Google is a NOUN not a verb. It means, and has always meant, ten to the one hundred power. End of story.

Saying you googled something is like saying you xerox something. At best it’s slang and at worst it’s just plain wrong. We already have two standard English words that mean what you want: searched and researched. Use them.

Putting “google” in the dictionary as a verb is just plain stupid. Image if they did that with Yahoo or Lycos. Yeah, Google is a great search engine, but it’s not a verb.

Also, “it was a band-aid fix” isn’t an adjective. It’s a colloquialism.

Madbot says:

Definition processing

Word: google

Definition: v. to search for something using the search engine google

computing… to search for something using the search engineto search for something using the search engineto search for something using the search engineto search for something using the search engineto search for something using the search engineto search for something using the search engine

warning.. warning… cannot compute… cannot compute (sound of explosion and shrapnel from my head flying everywhere)

Logicbot says:

Seriously though...

Google doesn’t have to worry about going the way of kleenex and q-tip and elevator etc (using a trademarked name as a general reference to an object)… simply because it’s being used as a verb that denotes the action of using the Google search engine. You can’t google something on yahoo or msn search… the trademark itself is IN the defintion. If you tell someone to google something then you can only mean to look it up using Google’s search engine and nothing else.

Dougll says:

NOT Googol

this would be so much more difficult had Google used the original word Googol as their name.

I think there would probably be no copyright ever if they used Googol, instead of creating their own word.

It is important for Google to battle Webster and get the term out – so they can maintain their copyright. They have to maintain their copyright, or else it goes out into the public domain and we’d have every ebay seller and two-bit website saying they’re sponsored or in sponsorship with Google.

I guess Google can mak their own case to demonstrate how they have maintained their copyright and that the term’s use isn’t as widespread as Webster believes.

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