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Old 05-28-2019, 05:00 PM
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Generic terms that replaced the brand name


Inspired by this thread - as I was reading through it an odd thought struck me. Very often a trade name is so well known that that it becomes used as the generic name - examples that spring to mind are Kleenex to mean tissue, Hoover to mean vacuum cleaner, Scotch or Sellotape (UK) to mean clear adhesive tape, and so on.

However, you do get odd examples of a trade name which is used as a generic term for years subsequently dropping out of use, and being replaced by a true generic term. Forty years ago Durex (the UK equivalent of US Trojan, I believe) was almost always used as the generic term. These days, the word used is almost universally condom. Back in the day, "condom" was such an unusual word that I remember, in the novel His Lordship by Leslie Thomas*, the protagonist had to look it up in a dictionary - and it was from this novel that I learned the word.

I suspect this particular example may have happened because of public information campaigns which started almost 40 years ago. But there are other examples - in the UK Band-Aid (the brand) was the generally used word for a sticky medical dressing at one time, now replaced by the generic "plaster". Maybe, in this case, because of the declining commercial success of the brand.

Any other examples?

j

* - which, incidentally, would be unpublishable today
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:11 PM
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TiVo™ to DVR? I've observed that in my family, at least.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:59 PM
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My mother uses "Oleo" for margarine, and "Bab-O" for scouring powder, even though none of the stores in my town have carried either brand in at least 40 years. Older people seem to know instantly what she is talking about. Younger people have to translate.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:05 PM
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I remember "Xerox" being used in the 80s as both a verb and a noun for photocopying (now usually just called copying). Incidentally, I've never heard "plaster" used for a self-adhesive bandage; maybe that's a UK thing only? Everyone I know still calls them band-aids.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:27 PM
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In the US, Bendix was genericized to mean "washing machine"; the generic term has taken over.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:24 PM
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I remember "Xerox" being used in the 80s as both a verb and a noun for photocopying (now usually just called copying).
Later than that, definitely into the 90s, at least. But, yeah, that's a good example. Most of my peers would understand what I mean when I say "Can you Xerox this for me"? But I don't think I would use that construction any more. Not sure when it transitioned out of popular usage, but I'm guessing mid-to-late 90s? But, yes, "to Xerox" something or "a Xerox" was the usual terms for "to photocopy" or "a photocopy" back in that time, regardless of the brand of photocopy machine it was done on, but it doesn't seem to be a much-used term anymore.

I feel like there's a bunch of these on the tip of my tongue, but I can't summon them up.
Maybe "Astroturf"? That seemed to be the word for any type of artificial turf back in the day (80s-ish), but I can't remember the last time I heard that term.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:55 PM
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When I was a kid, we used mixmaster for a mixer. I think it has largely disappeared, maybe because the generic is shorter. Some people then used fridgidaire for what we now call a fridge. I think I use xerox and copy interchangeably.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:16 PM
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In the U.S., Bayer lost its trademark on aspirin, which is now generic. Aspirin is still a trademark in Canada and some other countries.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:46 PM
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I seem to remember "Frigidaire" being used as a term for all refrigerators when I was a kid.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:49 PM
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...Hoover to mean vacuum cleaner...
I think that's actually an example of a brand name being replaced by a generic term. I haven't heard anyone refer to a vacuum cleaner as "Hoover" in many years.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:38 PM
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I think that's actually an example of a brand name being replaced by a generic term. I haven't heard anyone refer to a vacuum cleaner as "Hoover" in many years.
Which is the subject of this thread, no? As I understand it, we're not looking for words like "aspirin" which were trademarked and currently being used as generics, but rather brand names like "hoover" that were once used as generics, but now replaced by true generic terms, i.e. "vacuum cleaner" in this case.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:23 AM
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I seem to remember "Frigidaire" being used as a term for all refrigerators when I was a kid.
Yes, I was going to mention that one.

Also, Victrola was a general term for record player that was replaced by the latter (although they are largely obsolete).
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:50 AM
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The thing I recall with Hoover/vacuum cleaners was not so much that the generic vac was called a hoover, it was that when someone was going to clean their floor, they would say: "I'm going to hoover the floor now, get outside and play" etc.

So it was hoover as a verb, not just another name for any vacuum cleaner.
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:34 AM
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In the US, Bendix was genericized to mean "washing machine"; the generic term has taken over.
Is or was this a regionalism or something from very long ago? I've never heard Bendix applied to washing machines.
Bendix is, and always has been the gear on the starter motor that engages the main engine of your car to start it running, whether said gear was actually manufactured by Bendix or some other company. Shoot, I know I used to know the proper name for it but heck if I do now, it's just the bendix gear.

For me a whirlpool always meant a dishwasher regardless of manufacturer, but not anymore
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:26 AM
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Incidentally, I've never heard "plaster" used for a self-adhesive bandage; maybe that's a UK thing only?
Nope, they're called that in South Africa, too. It's short for "sticking plaster", and the biggest brand here is Elastoplast (same as in the UK, I believe), not Band-Aid, but that's not really been genericised here.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:35 AM
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Heroin (yes, it's originally a trade name registered to Bayer, same as aspirin) is more likely to be known by one of its street names (smack, horse, etc.) by aficionados. I hear. Or by its chemical name in actual medical contexts.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:58 AM
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Maybe "Astroturf"? That seemed to be the word for any type of artificial turf back in the day (80s-ish), but I can't remember the last time I heard that term.
I still hear "Astroturf" used, but only in a non-literal meaning. That is, it means a ostensible grass-roots organization that's actually funded and run by a corporation or other non-locals.

As far as "hoover" to mean vacuum, either as a noun or verb, it still seems to be used that way in Britain and Ireland. At least that's my impression from the other side fo the pond.
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:07 AM
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As far as "hoover" to mean vacuum, either as a noun or verb, it still seems to be used that way in Britain and Ireland. At least that's my impression from the other side fo the pond.
Yep, Hoover is still in common use for both the verb and the noun here in the UK.

I don't recall "band-aid" ever being used as a generic term, I've always used and heard "plaster".
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:50 AM
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Is or was this a regionalism or something from very long ago? I've never heard Bendix applied to washing machines.
I was wondering about thatone , too, but even moreso. I haven't even heard of Bendix applied to anything. First time I've heard the word, to my knowledge. Perhaps it was regional, or perhaps before my time (I'm in my early-mid-40s.) But even the old timers around here growing up just called it a washing machine.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:29 AM
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There was a period where old people used to call every smartphone an iPhone, eg: Samsung iPhone. That’s largely stopped now.
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:22 AM
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There was a period where old people used to call every smartphone an iPhone, eg: Samsung iPhone. That’s largely stopped now.
Likewise, seems every mom in America called every video game system a "Nintendo" from 1986 until maybe the Playstation 2.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:07 AM
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For a while a "Walkman" was any portable cassette player, since Sony was the first and most popular. They eventually became just cassette players.

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Old 05-29-2019, 09:14 AM
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I don't recall "band-aid" ever being used as a generic term, I've always used and heard "plaster".
As a generic term it was well enough known for Bob Geldof to borrow it with (I assume) everyone getting the joke. Maybe I'm older than you? (60)

That said, upthread mention of Elastoplast reminds me that that was also used as the generic name for a while, before "Plaster" took over.

j
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:18 AM
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I was wondering about thatone , too, but even moreso. I haven't even heard of Bendix applied to anything. First time I've heard the word, to my knowledge. Perhaps it was regional, or perhaps before my time (I'm in my early-mid-40s.) But even the old timers around here growing up just called it a washing machine.
Other than this thread, I've only ever seen it used in Jean Kerr's 'Please Don't Eat the Daisies':

"I say, 'Christopher, you take a bath and put all your things in the wash,' and he says, 'Okay, but it will break the Bendix' Now at this point the shrewd rejoinder would be, 'That's all right, let it break the Bendix.' But years of experience have washed over me in vain and I, perennial patsy, inquire, 'Why will it break the Bendix?' So he explains, 'Well, if I put all my things in the wash, I'll have to put my shoes in and they will certainly break the machinery,'"

I've never heard anyone in real life use bendix.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:22 AM
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I seem to remember "Frigidaire" being used as a term for all refrigerators when I was a kid.
I experienced an amusing inversion of this when I was in Cairo. We were staying in an apartment that had no refrigerator when we arrived, and our host promised to get us a "Frigidaire" as soon as possible. A day or two later, he made good on his promise with a Frigidaire freezer. Which was, you should imagine, not so great for keeping leftovers and drinking water in. We developed a pattern of putting a bottle of drinking water in at night, taking it out first thing the next morning, and then taking it and a room temp bottle with us when we went out sightseeing.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:29 AM
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While reading this thread I noticed that most of these examples are simply because the brand name isn't around anymore, or there's enough competition in the space to merit going back to the original term. I haven't heard anyone call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover in ages, but that's probably because no one I know owns a Hoover. We're a Dyson and Shark society now! Xerox? I mean, I guess I don't pay attention to the copy machines at work, but do they still even make copiers? I know Frigidaire still makes refrigerators, but most fridges I know are now Samsung or LG techno-wonders.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:37 AM
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I wonder how long it'll take before people start saying "cola" instead of "Coke." I believe in the UK and possibly elsewhere, but not in the US, the term "lemonade" is generic for clear lemon-lime sodas. Do people in the American South still say "Coke" to refer to sodas generally (including e.g. Sprite) or is that dying out?
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:19 AM
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It seems like there was a time when every four-wheel-drive vehicle was a "Jeep". I know when I was a kid I used to call the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser a "Toyota Jeep". Now they're all just called SUVs and Jeep is a specific make of SUV.
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:27 AM
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Which is the subject of this thread, no? As I understand it, we're not looking for words like "aspirin" which were trademarked and currently being used as generics, but rather brand names like "hoover" that were once used as generics, but now replaced by true generic terms, i.e. "vacuum cleaner" in this case.
Yes, but I thought the OP mentioned Kleenex, Hoover etc as counter-examples, i.e. things for which we still use the trademarked names.
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:37 AM
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Yes, but I thought the OP mentioned Kleenex, Hoover etc as counter-examples, i.e. things for which we still use the trademarked names.
Ah - quite correct. I was going to put my hand up and confess on that one; but then kambuckta pointed out that the verb, to hoover, is still current. So I kept quiet.

j
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:06 PM
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Do people in the American South still say "Coke" to refer to sodas generally (including e.g. Sprite) or is that dying out?
Yes, "coke" is the genericized term for pop or soda in a good part of the south. When someone asks if you want a coke, the correct response is "yes, what kinds do you have?"
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:30 PM
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Is or was this a regionalism or something from very long ago? I've never heard Bendix applied to washing machines.
Bendix is, and always has been the gear on the starter motor that engages the main engine of your car to start it running, whether said gear was actually manufactured by Bendix or some other company. Shoot, I know I used to know the proper name for it but heck if I do now, it's just the bendix gear.

For me a whirlpool always meant a dishwasher regardless of manufacturer, but not anymore
Back in the 40s and 50s in the US. Here's an example. Jean Kerr wrote an essay where she mentions using the bendix (as a generic term).
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:59 PM
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My mother uses "Oleo" for margarine, and "Bab-O" for scouring powder, even though none of the stores in my town have carried either brand in at least 40 years. Older people seem to know instantly what she is talking about. Younger people have to translate.
Pretty sure "oleo" is just short for "oleomargarine". I didn't realize "Oleo" was a brand name?

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Likewise, seems every mom in America called every video game system a "Nintendo" from 1986 until maybe the Playstation 2.
Similarly, and maybe it was just among my group of friends, but there were several years there where we used "Mario" as a generic word for "video game". "Want to play Mario?" "Sure, what game?" "Er, how about Excitebike?"
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:26 PM
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Re: Bendix


Like DorkVader I always believed the term Bendix to refer to an automobile starter motor component. Unlike DorkVader it did not refer to the starter gear (that was simply a ""gear"), but the assembly which forced the starter gear away from the electric motor (towards the flywheel) when the starter motor was turning faster than the starter gear (as when starting the engine) and away from the flywheel (towards the starter motor) when the starter gear was turning faster than the starter motor (as when the engine caught). This disengaged the gear from the flywheel once the engine had started and the device that allowed that to happen was (or, still is, AFAIK) "the bendix".

I had heard the term used in the sense of a washing machine, but I have always assumed that a similar device was used in older washing machines to drive the agitator and they were designed and produced by the same company (The Bendix Corporation). This thread had me look up the Wikipedia article on Bendix and found I was wrong. While they did produce automotive parts (including starter motors), they never did make washing machines, only sold their name to a company that did. It seems they made quite a bit of stuff.

Last edited by excavating (for a mind); 05-29-2019 at 05:27 PM. Reason: too many was's
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:19 PM
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My dad's parents called it a Frigidare until the day they died. Granted, they usually actually had that brand, but they'd say it at other people's homes with other brands. Most people just (and still) call it a fridge (i always have assumed as short for refrigerator).
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Likewise, seems every mom in America called every video game system a "Nintendo" from 1986 until maybe the Playstation 2.
From like 79-83 they were an "Atari", they weren't really a "Nintendo" until 87 or 88 (even though they were out before that that's more when the name hit "critical mom mass").

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Old 05-29-2019, 06:22 PM
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Do people in the American South still say "Coke" to refer to sodas generally (including e.g. Sprite) or is that dying out?

In my part of the American South (South Carolina) that has never been the case in my lifetime.


(Edited for the obligatory XKCD.)

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Old 05-30-2019, 05:08 PM
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:55 PM
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As a kid we always called it "Saranwrap". Now it's just plastic wrap. And boy, does the word "wrap" ever look strange if you look at it enough.

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Old 05-30-2019, 09:58 PM
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Nope, they're called that in South Africa, too. It's short for "sticking plaster", and the biggest brand here is Elastoplast (same as in the UK, I believe), not Band-Aid, but that's not really been genericised here.
And it's not just that "band-aid" is still the preferred term in the US. I suspect that only about one in ten people here would have any idea what you meant if you said "plaster" or "sticking plaster," maybe less if you asked without providing context.

"Plaster" here as a noun means only the white building material, although oddly we still use "plaster" as a verb for "to paste something on a vertical surface."

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Old 05-30-2019, 11:03 PM
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As a kid we always called it "Saranwrap". Now it's just plastic wrap. And boy, does the word "wrap" ever look strange if you look at it enough.
That’s still what I call it. Being overseas, I didn’t get the memo.

I had a perfect example in Japanese, but I forgot it. Dammit. If I remember, I’ll post it.

A not so perfect example, but similar was that Japanese often called all foreigners “Americans” in the early 80s and the language foreigners spoke “English” but as the awareness that there are other countries in the world led more people to use “foreigners” and “foreign language.”
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:18 AM
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That’s still what I call it. Being overseas, I didn’t get the memo.

I had a perfect example in Japanese, but I forgot it. Dammit. If I remember, I’ll post it.

A not so perfect example, but similar was that Japanese often called all foreigners “Americans” in the early 80s and the language foreigners spoke “English” but as the awareness that there are other countries in the world led more people to use “foreigners” and “foreign language.”
Kind of like how in large parts of Asia, the word for “foreigner” is some form of “Firang,” which derives from a term that originally meant “Frankish.”
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:49 AM
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Adrenaline

It's the trademark name for epinephrine.


Google

has pretty much taken the "Kleenex" route


Zipper

is also a trade name first used by B.F. Goodrich. It's properly a "slide fastener"


Here's a Wikipedia list of tradenames that have gone generic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...zed_trademarks
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:40 AM
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The current thread on "salad cream" reminded me that there isn't really a good generic term for Miracle Whip. It's a brand of what they call "salad dressing," but the term "salad dressing" is much more commonly used for the stuff you pour on salad.
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Old 05-31-2019, 01:30 PM
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The first two that came to mind were aspirin and Xerox (for photocopying).

The third was Q-Tip; in fact, I remember a commercial for a competing brand that had one person about to call it a Q-Tip when another interrupted with, "It's a cotton swab."
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:25 PM
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I still hear "Astroturf" used, but only in a non-literal meaning.
There was some confusion when my kids were younger, when they mentioned the surface of a playing field was "turf," and I said that no, it was fake. Apparently "turf" has switched teams.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:53 PM
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As a kid we always called it "Saranwrap". Now it's just plastic wrap. And boy, does the word "wrap" ever look strange if you look at it enough.

StG
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That’s still what I call it. Being overseas, I didn’t get the memo.
That's all I've known it as IRL, but on cooking shows with foreign chefs using it for something, they'll call it "cling film" which I just find silly.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:31 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: S. GA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by excavating (for a mind) View Post
Like DorkVader I always believed the term Bendix to refer to an automobile starter motor component. Unlike DorkVader it did not refer to the starter gear (that was simply a ""gear"), but the assembly which forced the starter gear away from the electric motor (towards the flywheel) when the starter motor was turning faster than the starter gear (as when starting the engine) and away from the flywheel (towards the starter motor) when the starter gear was turning faster than the starter motor (as when the engine caught). This disengaged the gear from the flywheel once the engine had started and the device that allowed that to happen was (or, still is, AFAIK) "the bendix".
Yep. That's a Bendix. Sometimes, one could just replace it instead of the whole starter assembly. BTW, for a bit of historical sylvan advertising, search for Bendix Woods Park on Google maps.
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