Monday, May 23, 2022



My friend in Scotland called me the other day and said she was tired because she had spent the whole morning “hoovering.” 

Because of her accent, I thought she’d said “hovering,” so I asked her, “Hovering over what?”

She laughed and said, “No, hoovering! You know, cleaning the carpet?”

After we hung up, I searched online for the term out of curiosity. It said hoovering referred to using a vacuum cleaner, and it originated back in the 1920s when Hoover was hugely popular in the United Kingdom.

It struck me funny that my friend still used the term “hoovering,” even though she probably was using some other brand like Bissell, Shark, Dyson, etc.

Anyway, our conversation made me recall a list I once was sent by the editor of a newspaper in which I was writing a regular column. The list dealt with trademarked names that people too often used as everyday terms. She instructed me to avoid using the trademarked names and use their generic equivalents instead.

This is just a small sample from that list:


POPSICLE                                                 Ice pop

KLEENEX                                                  Facial tissue

THERMOS                                                 Vacuum bottle

SCOTCH TAPE                                           Cellophane tape

JELL-O                                                     Gelatin dessert

VASELINE                                                 Petroleum jelly

VELCRO                                                    Hook and loop fastener

Q-TIPS                                                      Cotton swabs

ESCALATOR                                               Moving staircase

NOVOCAIN                                                Local anesthesia

YO-YO                                                       Bandalore

FRISBEE                                                    Plastic throwing disc

BAND-AID                                                 Adhesive bandage strip

XEROX                                                      Copy Machine


I don’t know, but writing something like: “After I ate my gelatin dessert, I fastened the hook-and-loop strips on my sneakers, then took the moving staircase up to the roof where I met my friend and we played with my plastic throwing disc and my bandalore,” just doesn’t sound…natural (especially “bandalore,” which probably is open to interpretation because no one knows what the heck it is).  

Which reminds me…”Wite-Out” is a trademarked name for correction fluid.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: