The Motley Fool Previous Page

To Google or Not to Google

Anders Bylund
July 5, 2006

It's official: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) really is a verb now. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which bills itself as "The definitive record of the English language," added the company name as a verb in the latest round of updates, placing Google in such august company as FedEx (NYSE: FDX  ) , TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) , and Xerox (NYSE: XRX  ) .

While inclusion in the highly respected dictionary does prove Google's pop-culture cachet and a certain jene sais quoi ("I don't know what;" added to the OED in 1656), verbing isn't always a good thing. Just ask Xerox how it feels about its company name becoming a synonym for photocopying, a word use the company has fought tooth and nail for many years. Trademarks such as Xerox have to be defended, or they risk lapsing into the public domain.

Maybe Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) shouldn't mind you Photoshopping images, even if you're not