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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?


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.

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  • Does it matter that those are brand names and are not names of a person? – Scott Mitchell Feb 22 '11 at 20:27
  • I don't really know. They are proper nouns which one would think ought to be capitalized. – horatio Feb 22 '11 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 '11 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 '11 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. – DJClayworth Jan 4 '12 at 20:01

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