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In the UK, electric vacuum cleaners used to be called Hoover, a product name, but Dyson is now the top brand on the UK market. Is the vacuum cleaner still called Hoover? Or is it now called Dyson?

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Language changes slowly. Over time it is possible but once a name takes hold as a generic term it is not very likely to be dislodged easily. One example is "Magic Marker". It pioneered the felt-tip marker and was very successful and widespread. It went bankrupt in 1980 but, in the U.S., is still used as a generic name. The term "sharpie" is starting to take over after 50+ years.

So vacuums might become "dysons" in a few decades especially if Hover goes out of the market.

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    I don't think we'll start to talk about 'dysoning' the carpet because genericisation, when it happens, almost always occurs with the name of the brand which introduced the product to a given market, not with any one which subsequently becomes the dominant provider. This is what happened with "biro" which is a mispronunciation of the name of the inventor and first manufacturer of ball-point pens. I haven't seen a genuine Biro in sixty years: the biggest brand, in the UK at least, has been Bic for decades but people still call them "biros". – BoldBen Oct 23 '20 at 7:19
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    I agree. Hoover covers all vacuum cleaners, Dysons are cyclone based bagless ones. Also some obstacles to the genericisation of 'dyson' are, at least in my opinion, a historic perception that people who boast about having a Dyson are snooty arrivistes and a certain shared dislike of the public persona of James Dyson (a billionaire Brexit supporter who has extolled the UK’s potential after leaving the EU, only to turn his back on Britain and move his company’s headquarters to the other side of the world). – Michael Harvey Oct 23 '20 at 7:55
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    @BoldBen One summer in the 1990s I worked at a company that sold spare parts for vacuum cleaners, cookers, fridges, freezers, etc. The sales staff were coached to finish each call by asking if the caller needed any vacuum cleaner bags as there was a "special offer this month". If the caller said "Oh no, I've got a Dyson." the staff were told to counter this by saying "Does it have the medical grade filters?". This usually elicited a further order (something else to boast about, and to other Dyson owners!) Result! Hefty markup on these! – Michael Harvey Oct 23 '20 at 8:30
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    Dysons, apparently, are lousy at getting dog hairs off carpets. – Michael Harvey Oct 23 '20 at 12:37
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    @MichaelHarvey Maybe an Electrolux would do the trick... – Conrado Oct 23 '20 at 15:42
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It's still called a Hoover, and we hoover the carpet. Dictionaries seem to prefer upper case H when it's a noun, but lower case h when it's a verb.

When a word is deemed no longer proprietary the process is called genericization. This happened to Aspirin in the US. We too use the word as shorthand for 'pain-killer'.

In the UK your vacuum flask is a thermos, ballpoint pens are usually called biros (lower case), and adhesive tape Sellotape or sellotape, though in the US they call it Scotch tape, and in Australia they used to call it Durex.

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    I'm Australian. I don't think I've ever heard anyone call adhesive tape "Durex". I have heard Sellotape and Scotch tape. When I was at school we called it "sticky tape" and that's what I still say. – nnnnnn Oct 23 '20 at 6:51
  • In Britain, a machine which might also be called a "digger", or in the US a "backhoe", is very widely called a "JCB", even though the maker might be another company. – Michael Harvey Oct 23 '20 at 10:31
  • Thanks. I've edited it. We used to see posters advertising it in the '80s – Old Brixtonian Oct 23 '20 at 15:13
  • There was a court case against someone lower-casing 'Biro'. As it's a registered trademark and the company brought this case early, I believe lower-casing might still be a criminal offence, at least under some jurisdictions. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 23 '20 at 15:18
  • Years ago, Durex was a brand of sticky tape in Oz, the tins sometimes come up on Ebay, so was Bear Brand (and Scotch of course). Use of Durex as a generic term for adhesive tape has declined markedly in Australia in recent years as the brand is no longer sold there, and in fact the condom brand is widely available and marketed in that country (though Durex is still rare as a generic term for condoms in Australia). – Michael Harvey Oct 23 '20 at 16:10
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With encouragement from JSW29 I'm converting my comment from a ouple of days ago to an answer.

I don't believe we'll ever start to talk about 'dysoning' the carpet because genericisation, when it happens, almost always occurs with the name of the brand which introduced the product to a given market, not with any one which subsequently becomes the dominant provider.

This is what happened with "biro" which is a mispronunciation of the name of the Hungarian brothers, Lazlo and Gyorgy Biro who invented the first ball-point pens with sticky ink as we now have them in the 1930s. 'Biro' pens were eventually adopted by the RAF and US airforces for use in aircraft and, after the war, were introduced to the civilian market by the BIC company which became the primary manufacturer of ballpoint pens in the 1950s and then continued ever since. However they were known as 'Biro' pens in the UK in the 1950s and 'biro' has become the generalisation.

I haven't seen a pen marketed as a 'Biro' in at least sixty years: the biggest brand has been BIC for decades and there are many other makes (often unbranded) but people still call them 'biros'. Even PaperMates are sometimes referred to as biros.

The history of the ball point pen is quite interesting and this website gives many details. It's worth a look.

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