Popular usage frequently converts brand names into generic ones, with the generic name falling into disuse. Few people call gelatin dessert mix anything other than “Jell-O,” which helps to explain why it’s hard to find Royal Gelatin on the grocery shelves. All facial tissues are “Kleenex” to the masses, all photocopies “Xeroxes.” Such commercial fame is, however, a two-edged sword: sales may be lost as well as gained from such over-familiarity. Few people care whether their “Frisbee” is the genuine Wham-O brand original or an imitation. Some of these terms lack staying power: “Hoover” used to be synonymous with “vacuum cleaner,” and the brand name was even transmuted into a verb: “to hoover” (these uses are still common in the UK). Most of the time this sort of thing is fairly harmless, but if you are a motel operator offering a different brand of whirlpool bath in your rooms, better not call it a “Jacuzzi.”
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