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Should the word Boolean be capitalized?

I notice that many online articles geared toward programmers refer to boolean variables, which are variables that have only two states: true or false. Is this correct usage? I'd contend that the "b" in Boolean should be capitalized because the term Boolean is named after mathematician George Boole.

More generally, are there any grammatically correct examples of terms named after someone that are no longer capitalized?


1 Answer 1


The first example that comes to mind is the word "xerox" which is typically not capitalized.

"Can you xerox these documents for me so I can send copies to my parole officer?"

Another is "hoover"

"He hoovered up his food like he hadn't eaten in weeks."

Both are capitalized in dictionaries, but usage examples don't always feature capitalization.

  • Does it matter that those are brand names and are not names of a person? Feb 22, 2011 at 20:27
  • I don't really know. They are proper nouns which one would think ought to be capitalized.
    – horatio
    Feb 22, 2011 at 20:29
  • Those are nouns that have transitioned into verbs - like Google and google. Whereas Boolean logic isn't (at least, I haven't ever come across 'to bool')
    – HorusKol
    Feb 22, 2011 at 22:55
  • They are nouns as well: a copy is a xerox and a vacuum cleaner is a hoover even when they aren't actually the right brand.
    – horatio
    Feb 23, 2011 at 15:10
  • Both 'xerox' and 'hoover' are specific examples of genericised names - things that used to be brand names and are now used generically ('hoover' much more so in the UK than North America). That's why they don't have caps. Jan 4, 2012 at 20:01

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