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With the popularity and ubiquity of Google, it has become a verb to describe "searching for something online" and it appears in conversations and informal writing.

How can I know if it is acceptable to use "google" in more formal writing?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It is now an official verb (since 2006), added to the merriam-webster dictionary and the OED.
So I would say: yes.

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Should "Google" be capitalised or not? My spellchecker thinks it should, but I disagree... – Seamus Oct 11 '10 at 10:34
@Seamus, Verbs derived from proper nouns are not usually capitalised. Feel free to google and to hoover. (And my spellchecker is happy with both of those.) – TRiG Nov 16 '10 at 10:49

I generally recommend the following for using newly minted words:

  • In casual or social conversation and in non-formal writing, go for it.
  • In formal or professional conversation/presentation and in most professional writing, substitute a comparable but more-neutral term. "I Googled 'potato' but found too many entries" and "I searched 'potato' but found too many entries" are practically identical in meaning.

Sometimes using "Googled" is appropriate for your voice in business writing. This will usually be in less-formal media like project-team blogs or webcasts (where the reader expects colloquial usage).

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I think it's acceptable. This leads to some fun sentences, like "A few years back, I googled something on altavista and found ..."

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thechurchofgoogle.org Commandment 3: Thou shalt not use Google as a verb to mean the use of any lesser Search Engine. – Jon Purdy Oct 12 '10 at 17:22

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