Since when did google become a verb?
To google or not to google, that is the question!
Gone are the days when we sought answers to our enquiries in reference libraries, in books or from wise friends or family members. For many of us, nowadays, if we have a question we want answered, we simply write it into the search space bar on the Internet search engine, Google.
This method of finding an answer to just about anything has become so popular that google is now a verb, meaning to search on the Internet. It was first included in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ on June 15th, 2006.
However, Google Inc. are not happy that their name is now being used as a verb, despite the fact that the very first person recorded as using google as a verb was one of their own people. It was Google’s co-founder Larry Page who wrote on July 8th, 1998: ‘Have fun and keep googling!’ on a mailing list. The first use of it as a transitive verb was in the phrase: ‘Have you googled her yet?’ which was first used on the television programme ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ on October 15th, 2002.
You may ask what is the problem of using a brand name as a verb? The answer is that a business fears loosing their trademark, their separate identity, if their name becomes commonly used as a verb. On October 25th, 2006, Google sent out a public request that ‘You should please only use ‘Google’ when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services.’
There is no doubt that many of us would celebrate if the brand name for our business became a verb and commonly used like ‘hoovering’ now means ‘vacuuming’ and ‘to pogo’ means to jump as though you are on a Pogo.
Isn’t it one of the greatest signs of successful marketing to have your trading name used as a verb?
Not according to trade mark lawyer Elizabeth Ward, who is quoted in the BBC News Online article ‘Google calls in the language police’ (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3006486.stm) as saying: ‘You have to see it in context of how much they spend on advertising. If you have a big, big brand such as Google you have to say what’s that brand actually worth. Once it becomes just a word, it erodes the value of that brand.’
So because google is now a verb, Google have become victims of their own success!