Word for Wednesday: Hoover

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for August is eponymous words

An eponymous word is a word that is named after a person or fictional character. These people or characters are known as eponyms and examples include the Earl of Sandwich (sandwiches), the Duke of Wellington (wellington boots), and Don Quixote (quixotic). 

Eponym comes from the Greek epi- meaning ‘upon’ or ‘called after’ and the Aeolic dialect -onyma meaning ‘name’. ‘Onyma’ comes from the PIE root ‘no-men’ meaning ‘name’.

Last week we looked at the word August and this week’s eponymous word is hoover

In British English, the word hoover is used to refer to all vacuum cleaners and also to the process of vacuuming.

It is one of many cases where a brand dominates an industry to the extent that its name becomes synonymous with the product or service it provides.

In American English, ‘Kleenex’ is used to refer to a ‘tissue’ and ‘Band Aid’ is used to refer to a ‘plaster'. All over the world, ‘Googling’ means ‘searching online’  even when a search engine other than Google is being used. 

While these examples are not namesakes, the Hoover Company was in fact named after its founder William Henry Hoover – spare him a thought the next time you’re hoovering your carpets!

11 Aug 2021
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