The Verb “To Google”

I visited Google New York a few years ago. In conversation, an engineer used the verb to google — just like everyone else. Slightly amusing. Today I used the verb to google in an email. Gmail told me it was misspelled! Google is okay but google is not in their dictionary. Too modest!

5 Responses to “The Verb “To Google””

  1. Mike deCock Says:

    There is a wiki entry explaining Google’s dislike of using the word as a verb:

    “Fearing the genericizing and potential loss of its trademark, Google has discouraged use of the word as a verb, particularly when used as a synonym for general web searching”

    Perhaps Google is getting too big for its own good. Maybe more of us should start using Yahoo and Bing for our googling. :)

  2. Tom Says:

    Not modesty…they can lose their trademark if they can’t show that they
    actively protect it by correcting misuse.

    Aspirin is an example of a lost trademark. “Frigidaire” is a mark that is still alive in the U.S. but has been lost in France. Kleenex and Xerox are marks that would be lost if their companies couldn’t show concerted effort to prevent it.

  3. Ashish Says:

    As others have pointed out, genericization is a standard worry for big companies. As a marketing manager of consumer technology products, I’ve sat through long lectures from our lawyers about what usages are and are not permitted. I’m actually surprised that Google (the company) hasn’t cracked down on “to google” a lot more.

  4. Nathan Myers Says:

    American trademark law, as I understand it, does not protect verbs. Therefore, you and everyone else are welcome to google generically in lower case — even using Bing if you are not feeling especially pedantic or loyal. It’s unlikely that “bing” will ever be a verb. MS should be so lucky.

  5. Seth Roberts Says:

    Interesting. Clearly there is an incentive for lawyers to be overcautious. I wonder if anyone at Google ever checks what lawyers tell them.