Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Google, or to google

Google executives would rather you didn't use "Google" as a verb since doing so threatens their trademark, but as you know, it's very common to hear people say, "I Googled it," to mean they searched for something on Google.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary lists the verb "google" as lowercase, but notes that it is often capitalized. The Oxford English Dictionary draft entry shows the verb "Google" capitalized, but some of the example sentences have it lowercase. In searching for an older, analogous situation, I discovered that Bryan Garner says "xerox" is usually not capitalized when it's used as a verb, but sometimes it is.

There doesn't seem to be an absolute rule, although companies prefer that you capitalize trademarked terms if you insist on using them as verbs. The best advice I can give you is to pick a style and stick with it. As an editor, I respect the preference of companies and trademarks, and capitalize titles, especially Google!

Source: Grammar Girl



  1. Karen! It's such a pleasure to hear from you!

    I know; I manage to post every Wednesday, but my absence commenting on other blogs is due to my editing schedule, which has been busy lately! (Yay!)

    And thank you for asking. Yes, I've recovered from my surgery; however, unfortunately I've had other health issues arise that are taking a lot of my time. :( More tests and appointments. Sigh...

    I've decided that 2011 is going to be my year! A healthy, happy, lots-of-work year! ♥

  2. Companies can be finicky about trademarks. I would be, too, if I were a company.

  3. I think to avoid any company zealots coming down on oneself like a ton of bricks, I'd play safe and use Google as a verb because it would generally mean to use Google. Does that make sense? I hope so! LOL!

    Take care

  4. So funny that they don't WANT us to. I would think owning a whole CATEGORY of activities would trump silly ownership rights... Heck--they have their own WORD! I suppose though... being writerly, and anti-businessy, my bias is showing. I am willing to respect that they want me to capitalize it, but not willing to give up such a handy word.

  5. Interesting post. We become so use to hearing the word 'google' I hadn't thought about the correct way to write it.

    Thoughts in Progress

  6. Carol: So would I! As I stated in the post, I not only respect a company's choice, but I feel capitalizing is the correct way to type or write a trademarked company name.

    OK: Yes, it does make sense!

    Hart: It's not that they don't want you to use their word - heck, I'm sure they love when their "name" is used. It's a matter of whether or not to capitalize the word when it's used as a verb. You would always capitalize it when referring to the business itself (not only Google, but other trademarked company names), but when used as a verb (I Googled that...) I respect their preference to capitalize it. Personally, I think it looks wrong NOT to capitalize it.

    Mason: It's something most people don't even think about. For the most part, verbs are not capitalized, and although I've always capped it, I never Googled it to find out more information, :) although I have heard that it's "a big deal" to companies, (and rightly so)!


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