From Jacuzzi to Jet Ski, there’s a whole host of words in the English language that started out life as brand names. How many do you know on our list?
Whilst Super Glue originally referred to a specific brand of adhesive, most people now use the term to refer to any fast-acting glue.
Cyanoacrylate, the chemical name for instant adhesives, is quite a mouthful – so we can see why the name Super Glue would stick (excuse the pun).
Sticking with adhesives (excuse the pun), did you know that Sellotape is registered as a trademark in almost 100 different countries?
The term has become so popular that the verb “to sellotape” has even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, where it is defined as “fastening or sticking with transparent adhesive tape.”
The word escalator, which originally referred to a brand of “moving staircase,” was coined by inventor Charles Seeberger, who combined the word elevator with the Latin word for stairs (scala).
However by the 1950s, the term escalator had become so synonymous with moving staircases that the U.S. Patent Office ruled it should fall into the public domain. The Otis Elevator Company, which produced the escalator, subsequently lost its trademark.
Thanks to the escalator we now have the verb “to escalate,” meaning both to “raise something higher” and to “make something worse.”
Hard to believe now but the word heroin was actually coined by German pharmaceutical company Bayer, which launched the drug in the 1890s as a branded cough remedy. The term was taken from the German word “heroisch”, meaning “heroic,” in testimony to the drug’s powerful properties.
Around about the same time that it was commercialising heroin, Bayer also started selling another branded painkiller – Aspirin – which went on to become the world’s best-selling medication.
Yorkshireman Percy Shaw came up with his idea for reflective road studs whilst driving home in the dark one evening and seeing his headlights reflected back at him – literally from the eyes of a cat.
The company he formed in 1935, Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd, went on to export its products all over the world and to this day still holds the “Catseye” registered trademark.
Whilst most people would call a flying disk a “Frisbee,” the term technically only refers to a brand of disc manufactured by the Wham-O company.
Incidentally, Wham-O also holds a registered trademark for the term “Hula Hoop,” which it uses to describe its specific brand of toy hoops.
Lloyds Bank installed its first ATM machine in 1972, coining the word “cashpoint” to describe the money-dispensing machine and registering it as a trademark several years later.
Whilst the term has slipped into common usage, Lloyds Bank maintains its trademark over the word and competitors are unable to use it to advertise any of their products or services.
But with plenty of other options to choose from – “ATM,” “cash machine,” or even just “hole in the wall” – they shouldn’t be left struggling for words.
If we’ve missed any other words from this list or you have any other exciting trivia for us, let us know!