Xerox, photocopy, copy

I’ve read before that the Xerox Corporation has had to try to protect its brand and encourage the use of “photocopy” because a lot of people use the word “xerox” as a generic verb meaning to make a machine copy of something (or as a generic noun meaning the copy itself), regardless of the actual brand of the copy machine.

I never really heard “xerox” used that way, though. I always hear (and use) “copy” or “photocopy,” and saying “xerox” would never occur to me. I’ve been wondering if usage of these terms might be regional and/or age-related (though I can’t ever remember hearing anyone of any age use the generic “xerox”).

I’m from east Texas and I’m 33. How about y’all, which term do you tend to use and where are you from?

I used to hear Xerox as a verb now and then. Maybe in the old days they were the primary co any making photocopiers. I’m 54. I don’t think I’ve heard that use in decades. We say “copy.”

I know a guy who used to work for a shop that sold Kyocera copiers. He lectures people who talk about “Xeroxing” a page.

In the 1960’s, it was common to say “Xerox”. Also at schools they would say “Ditto”.

FYI - Ditto Machine…
Spirit duplicator - Wikipedia

AB Dick Model 217 Spirit Duplicator "Ditto Machine" in Action! - YouTube

I would agree that it’s changed with time. I used to hear people use “Xerox” back in the late sixties/early seventies. Older (than me) people still say it, but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone say anything other than “copy.”

Before copiers became common, there used to be mimeographs. I remember as an elementary school student hearing teachers talk about handing out “mimeos” of some assignment or other.

I remember dittoes being a thing when I was in kindergarten in 88-89, purple ink and all. Maybe first grade too. I never saw or heard of them after that, though, once I stopped seeing purple ink, people started calling them “copies.”

The heyday of Xerox is over. When they controlled the entire market for their simple xerography system it made perfect sense to use the word ‘Xerox’. I don’t know why companies complain about ubiquitous usage of their names, they can just advertise and say “Wouldn’t you rather have a real Xerox machine?”. It certainly didn’t do them any good to try to protect their name, following the FTC consent decree that forced them to license the technology their market share plummeted. I can tell you from experience they had very short-sighted management.

I’m in my fifties, and I remember when “xeroxing” was a generic noun for making photocopies. Not so much anymore.

As I recall, the inventor of the process also invented the word “xerox” as a verb implying a dry toner copy process, as opposed to a wet ink process. Based on greek roots for “dry writing.” So originally, it could be considered a generic verb, albeit invented by a corporation for their own proprietary process.

I remember a very old joke I heard - Double your money, Xerox your paychecks. Must admit, I don’t really hear the word ‘xerox’ as an adjective anymore - at least not here. U.K.

They actually have to complain. Trademarks can be declared genericized under certain circumstances (eg cellophane), and one of those circumstances is if companies don’t attempt to protect their marks from unauthorized use. If Xerox had just let people use the term generically without comment, the mark could have eventually been declared abandoned and enter the public domain.

Yeah, in the 60s, it was the only game in town. And we called Ditto machines “stinkies”. If you used them you know why. Now, I guess I usually say “photocopy”.

Funny timing on this thread. On Friday I asked my assistant to xerox something for me, then had this weird moment of “what did I just say?” It was like intending to say “jeans,” but saying “dungarees” instead.

I’m 44, old enough to remember when xeroxes were made on Xerox machines. I agree that usage of the term is age-related, but has fallen out of general usage in the last few decades.

I understand the legal implications, but those guys acted like they were personally insulted by this.

Here’s the entry of a Webster’s dictionary:

Xerox - n. Trademark. 1. a process for reproducing printed, written, or pictorial matter by xerography. - v.t. 2. to print or reproduce by xerography.

People in my country do use the term xerox as a verb or a noun (meaning Copy Shop). They also use the term zeiss as an adjective or interjection (meaning “high quality”) and Adidas as a noun (meaning “sneakers/trainers”). This list could continue.

In my school the brand name for the spirit duplicator thingy was Gestetner. I can’t recall exactly, but I think we called them Photostat, which was probably an inaccurate usage.

We never used “Xerox” in my town, we always called it photocopying, mostly because by the time it was common there it was already publicly available in print shops and libraries, so a generic term was more visible.

Ditto. Back in the '80s, when I was on my first boat, we usually abbreviated Xerox to “xox” (pronounced zox): “Hey, can you xox this for me?”

Northwest Arkansas. Born in 1985. People say “copy” informally and “photocopy” formally or when it aids in clarity. For example, in schools “copy” could in some contexts mean “hand copy.”

Maybe that’s what you have to do to get people to stop–seeing as it seems to have worked.

Then again, Kleenex didn’t do that, and their brand is still going strong.

I don’t know about in the U.S., but has this scenario occurred for the brand Sellotape? I sellotape pieces of paper - I wouldn’t know what the non-brand version f that statement would be! :confused:

Looks that way.

The equivalent here is Scotch Tape: “Appears in dictionaries as both generic and trademarked. Trademark Law advises that proper usage is “Scotch brand cellophane tape” to combat “generic tendencies”.”

ETA: I was wondering about “Elastiplast”. I love that name. :slight_smile:

My mom used to type forms for a neighbor on our Selectric, where the form was blue and typing would make the letters clear. Mistakes were corrected with a bottle of blue ink. Would that have been the basis of a mimeograph? I thought a ditto was a copy of a regular white page with typing? And I remember them being damp and smelly fresh off the machine. :slight_smile:

In this case it was competition that made people stop, Xerox machines were no longer prominent once they had competition. And that’s because they’re small office machines weren’t very good, so nobody really wanted to use their name in the end. If they had better management they could have improved their copiers and taken advantage of the common usage of the word.

I’m sure Kimberly Clark would come down hard on any business using their brand name commercially, and they wouldn’t encourage the use of their brand name generically, but I think they are enjoying the use of that name generically otherwise.