A few years from now, Google the search engine may well have gone the way of AltaVista and that Jeeves fellow. But "google," the verb, could live on well past its eponym's heyday, just like "guillotine" and "gerrymander."
At the very least, the verb has found a place in a pair of prominent dictionaries, one on each side of the Atlantic. Merriam-Webster this week recognized the lower-case use of "google" as, essentially, a word meaning "to search online." In June, an update to the Oxford English Dictionary did the same, though it retained the capital G of the proper name.
The moves put Google on par with some other trademarked terms that famously became commonplace words, including Xerox, Kleenex and Band-Aid. A number of the other tech-related terms also made it into the dictionaries, from the relatively well-established ("text messaging") to the emerging ("mash-up") to the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me ("mouse potato").
While many in the blogosphere took the news in the spirit of fun, others wondered--as did some lawyers, no doubt, in the Googleplex (which is not yet a word)--what would happen to the company's brand.
Blog community response:
"Will the company behind the word appreciate reaching vocabulary status, or will Google fight to keep their trademark pure?"
"Right up there with Kleenex, Google is now the household term for using a search engine. I bet their marketing department gets a fat raise."
"The Marketing Pilgrim offered up some funny words to add including: ... 'scobled' - def - when a company loses street-cred when a key blogger leaves the company. ... I have one to add for recruitment: MySpaced - Def: when a candidate loses an opportunity at a job offer because of the content on their MySpace page. Antonym: Dooced."
"By the way -- 'cybrary'? 'mouse potato'? Did they get these words out of a 1995 issue of Wired?"
--Otter (3800) on Slashdot