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A.Word.A.Day--band-aid

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Band-Aid (BAND-ayd)

1. A brand of adhesive bandage with a gauze pad in the center, used to cover minor abrasions and cuts.

noun

2. A makeshift, limited, or temporary aid or solution that does not satisfy a basic or long-range need.

adjective

3. Serving as a makeshift, limited, or temporary aid or solution.

[From the trademark.]

"A Maori health initiative to double immunisation numbers has been described as a band-aid solution by an Opunake doctor." Amy James, Maori health programme branded band-aid, Daily News (New Zealand), Sep 19, 1997.

"I'll FedEx you these documents today!" You have most likely heard people say this when what they really mean is they will send the material by a courier service, not necessarily the FedEx company. How many times have you xeroxed documents without even checking whether the copier was made by the Xerox company as it churned out the copies? Today I'm discussing a phenomenon called genericide whereby a trademark becomes so popular that it is used as a generic for the entire product category, not just as a specific brand name.

The success of a brand name is often a double-edged sword for the owning company. Initially, a company's dream is to become so successful with its product that customers use their brandname as a generic, "Need to ship your documents overnight? Just FedEx them!" As the brand becomes more popular, they struggle to protect it lest it gets watered down and becomes a generic-- a victim of its own success. Did you know the words aspirin, celluloid, escalator, gramophone, granola, heroin, kerosene were all trademarks once owned by companies? This week, AWAD will feature examples of words that, once trademarks, now are dictionary entries: bona fide words of the English language. -Stuti Garg (stutig at namix.com)

(This week's Guest Wordsmith, Stuti, is the founder of Namix, a company offering business naming services.)

X-Bonus

Life is a long lesson in humility. -James M. Barrie, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright (1860-1937)


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