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Beware the vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are dangerous. I am struck that the BBC did used "vacuum cleaner", not "hoover", and indeed, I feel as if I very rarely hear anyone using "hoover". Is it more common as verb than noun these days?

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( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
clanwilliam
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)
All newspapers and media use vacuum cleaner, because Hoover will send you a stiff letter pointing out that it is a trademark and not a description of the instrument.

Coca-Cola will do the same thing if you use Coke rather than Cola to describe the generic drink.

Both companies have to do so to protect their trademarks.
haggisthesecond
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:24 am (UTC)
I bet Hoover's letter would be extra stiff if it had been implied that it was their product that had destroyed a national treasure!
oursin
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:11 am (UTC)
I think, colloquially, I would use hoover for the action and appliance in a domestic context. These were clearly industrial strength cleaners.
hawkida
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:11 am (UTC)
I most often hear people use "vacuum" for noun and verb forms. Note that that's "vacuum", not "vacuum cleaner".
owlfish
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
Good attention to detail! I'd never use "vacuum clean" as a verb, and I too would tend to use a vacuum for short.
black_faery
Sep. 30th, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
I always use 'vacuum' when talking generally, or "I'll run the Dyson around" - I never say 'hoover' because I've never owned one. :-)
owlfish
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
Yet you wouldn't dyson the house I suspect.
black_faery
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Indeed. I would "vacuum the house" or "run the Dyson round". Dyson is still a noun as far as I use it, the verb remains vacuum.
rhube
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
It is used, but, of course, it's a brand name, so that's why the beeb wouldn't be using it.
heleninwales
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
The beeb are well known for avoiding brand names so as not to be accused of advertising, even more so in the past when Blue Peter presenters would make things out of sticky backed plastic and sticky tape to avoid using Fablon and Sellotape. Even now, the Radio 1 presenters refer to MP3 players rather than iPods, or make a joke of saying, "Other MP3 players are of course available," if one of them slips up and says, "iPod."
owlfish
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:14 pm (UTC)
What do they say when polyfilla'ing then, I wonder? (Interesting that that one is a degraded trademark word on BOTH sides of the ocean, between Spackle and Polyfilla!)
sam_t
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
Just 'fill' with 'filler', I suppose. It's a long time since I've seen any DIY programmes, though.
evieb
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, they are rather good about that. They are even more careful
about product placement with the children's programmes they make. When watching TV with the kids you can spot a BBC made programme easily, all the products on the shelves have big labels with what they are written on them, covering up any brand names. You can often figure out what they are underneath the labels from the rest of the packaging, but you have to look carefully and think about it.
bookzombie
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
Using 'hoover' seems to have dropped out off in the last few years.

Similarly over here mobile phones (or cell phones if you're on the other side of the pond) where referred to as 'vodafones' for years but as more service providers became well known that's stopped and everyone just calls them 'mobiles' now.
owlfish
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
I had no idea that vodafone used to be a generic word! (Or at least, an eroded trademark.)
sam_t
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
I wonder whether that's regional or generational: I haven't noticed any particular drop in the number of people complaining about hoovering (although owners of Dysons seem to refer to 'the Dyson' occasionally, whereas owners of, say, Bosch models don't seem to do likewise).

I have definitely never heard anyone referring to their mobile as 'a vodafone'.
a_d_medievalist
Sep. 30th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
it does rather sound like stupid people are dangerous ...
owlfish
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
Or at least absent-minded ones are.
evieb
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I would use hoover as a verb usually. I used to use it as a noun but as we always have a Dyson these days, and they seem to be used by rather a lot of other people, I now often use Dyson for the noun.
4ll4n0
Oct. 1st, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure my parents still use hoover as the noun and verb for vacuum cleaner and vacuuming despite not having lived in England for more than 30 years (and probably not having owned a Hoover in that time either). Also, thanks to my mom and I know the chorus to a hoover commercial from decades ago ("Hoover sweeps as it sweeps as it cleans...")

Speaking of generic terms that are actually trademarks, I think Velcro is hard to replace. I remember once reading the package for a product with "hook and loop fasteners" and being completely mystified as to what this feature could be, but that is apparently the most popular generic term for Velcro type systems. Wikipedia also mentions "burr" fastener as another generic term, which I think is neat as it refers to the inspiration for Velcro, but I'm not betting it will catch on. Band-aid is another one that is hard to replace (although at least you may guess what an adhesive bandage is), although some of my Brit relatives used Elastoplast.

Interestingly according to Firefox's spellchecker hoover is not just a proper name (so is not required to be capitalized) but Velcro is.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )