The Quick 10: 10 More Trademarked Words


After we published our list of 25 Brand Names People Incorrectly Use as Generic Terms, our wonderful readers responded with a host of other trademarked words and brand names that often get used as nouns and verbs. Here are 10 more!

1. JC wrote that Dumpster is a brand name, which is true, although the word has become largely genericized and the trademark is not widely enforced. The Dumpster got its name from the Dempster Brothers Inc., who combined their name with the word “dump” to create the Dempster Dumpster.

2. Novocain is actually the brand name of Procaine Hydrochloride owned by Hospira Inc. Thanks to H.D. for the info!

Today, Unilever recommends that you call generic frozen pops on a stick “pops,” “ice pops” or “freezer pops”. Although, depending on where you’re from, offering someone a “pop” could get very confusing.

4. Everyone knows Post-its, a trademark of 3M, were not the invention of Romy and Michele. A very different duo is responsible—Dr. Spencer Silver invented the adhesive in 1968 and scientist Art Fry thought up a practical use for it in 1974. In 1980, Post-its were available for sale. Thanks to Ken!

5. The Ouija board was first introduced by Elijah Bond in 1890 as a practical way to communicate with spirits, making dealing with a pesky ghost much more convenient. Today, it is trademark of Hasbro Inc. Thanks to Romeo Vitelli passing this on!

6. Vic brought to our attention that Plexiglas, which got its start in World War II aircraft canopies, has since become the better-known name for acrylic glass or poly(methyl methacrylate).

7. No matter how many picnics you’ve been to or how much time you spend at the water cooler, you’ve never had a drink out of a Styrofoam cup. Expanded Polystyrene is the generic name for the material that we typically think of as Styrofoam. The brand is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company that is made in sheaths for construction projects and is never named in the shape of a plate, cup or cooler. Thanks to Matt for the tip!

9. Robert Chesebrough invented Vaseline, now a registered trademark of Unilever, when he was 22 and he observed oil workers smearing residue from drills on their skin to heal wounds. Twenty years later, in 1880, Vaseline was selling throughout the United States at the rate of one jar a minute. Thanks for the info, Ken!

10. X-acto began in 1917 as a medical company that created syringes. Eventually, they began creating surgical scalpels that evolved into the hobby knives that we associate with X-acto. As Patrick told us, X-acto is a brand and a division of Elmer’s.