Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-07/Brand names of products

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Brand names of products[edit]

  • Voting on: Proposed clarification of criteria for inclusion of brand names of products.
  • Vote ends: 9 August 2007
  • Vote started: bd2412 T 22:44, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Vote created: bd2412 T 22:35, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Discussion:

Per the discussion of this topic in the Beer Parlor, I propose to amend the CFI with respect to brand names with the following:

A brand name for a physical product will be deemed to meet the CFI if the word is used as follows:

  1. It is used in at least three durably archived independent citations by different authors spanning a period of at least three years;
  2. The citations do not identify the type of product to which the brand name applies, either by stating the class of product, or by stating some feature of the product known to be unique to the class of product;
  3. The citations are not written by or about the manufacturer of the product, nor are they by or about a person, group, or agency associated with the manufacture or sale of the type of product;
  4. The citations are not from a source which is about the type of product in general.

Note that this proposal does not address the inclusion of titles (of books, movies, albums, songs, television shows, etc.), place names (still working on a new proposal for that), band names, brand names for services (banks, tax preparers, restaurant chains, hotels, grocery stores, drugstores, bookstores, etc.), or manufacturers or producers (General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, Del Monte, etc.). This proposal is strictly directed at actual physical products for which the brand name is used in place of the name of the product.

Here are some examples of citations that would qualify under this proposal:

William Braxton Irvine, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want (2005) p. 26:
  • He is disturbed not by the crass materialism of his life but by the fact that he is still driving a Ford when he could and should be driving a Porsche.
Gaby Triana, Backstage Pass (2004) p. 42:
  • Mom drives an Accord, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Porsche once they have the cash.
Bernard Goldberg, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes how the Media Distort the News (2001) p. 174:
  • And they can also live in a bigger house and drive something a little fancier than a Chevy or a Ford.
John Grisham, The Pelican Brief (1992) p. 103:
  • She drove an Accord and lived modestly.

Note that the fact that a product can be driven, eaten, drunk, played, or used to clean something is not by itself an indication of what class of product is being described, as there are many things to which any of the above actions could be applied (sometimes incorrectly - for example one could certainly try to eat a Ford or clean with a Budweiser).

Here are some citations that would not count under this proposal:

Keith Bradsher, High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the Suv (2004) p. 304:
  • A Ford dealer in Saudi Arabia repeatedly warned the automaker the same year that Firestone tires were failing on Explorers.
  • A Ford memo in March 1999 said that Firestone's legal staff did not want to to replace tires in Saudi Arabia for fear that doing so would require Firestone to notify NHTSA, and added that a Ford lawyer had worries "similar to the Firestone concerns."

The above does not refer to Ford as a product, but only refers to the dealer, memo, and lawyer related to Ford as a manufacturer, irrespective of the product; the references to Firestone are mostly in its corporate capacity, and the one that is about the product specifies "Firestone tires", thus mentioning the product; this would also not be admissible as a reference for Explorers, because the work as a whole is about the product, the Suv.

Lois Lowry, The Silent Boy (2003) p. 140:
  • But if he had a Ford automobile, he could simply telephone the garage, and--
  • We didn't need a Ford motorcar.
Mike Daisey, 21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon. Com (2002) p. 42:
  • Jeff is worth billions but rents an apartment and drives a Toyota hatchback.

The above references say what the product is, and are thus not using the brand name as a substitute for naming the product.

Henry Ford, Samuel Crowther, My Life and Work (1922) p. 146:
  • There were several of us and we had a little caravan — the Lanchester, a Packard, and a Ford or two.

The above reference is by (and about) Henry Ford, a person associated with the production of automobiles.

I have done a little poking around in Google Books and based on the results I came up with, I do not believe that the adoption of the above will lead to any upheaval of the structure or function of Wiktionary, but will simply serve to define words that readers are likely to come across out of context. Cheers! bd2412 T 22:35, 10 July 2007 (UTC)


  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support Thryduulf 23:10, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support, even though the vote's proponent apparently doesn't support it. ;-) —RuakhTALK 01:23, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    I prefer not to vote on my own proposals unless it becomes an issue. :) bd2412 T 01:45, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support, well-crafted proposal, addresses all concerns that have been raised. -- Visviva 01:47, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support EncycloPetey 04:10, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support in principle DAVilla 17:39, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    although my analysis of the quotations above would be stricter. Yes, all of the citations indicate some quality about the brand of cars in question beyond the simple fact that they are cars. However, I think it is apparent from a pragmatic assessment that, in each and every quotation that bd2412 finds acceptable, the object in question is a car. Outside of any other context, that's what one presumes people drive. Furthermore, some of the quotations make it a little clearer what class of car, although they do not make it patently clear. For instance, the following substitutions would greatly change the meaning:
    • He is disturbed not by the crass materialism of his life but by the fact that he is still driving a Porsche when he could and should be driving a Volvo.
    • She drove a Yugo and lived modestly.
    etc., so I do believe that the citations are legitimate. I would phrase point number 2 as saying that the meaning would need to be understood outside of any context to clearly define it. "Meaning" can be the type of object, roughly, or some attribute thereof. The other points are basically just a strict interpretation of our existing independence rule. But I guess it's good to have that spelled out. DAVilla 17:39, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support Our users should be able to find here an explanation of every word they come across in the real world. —This unsigned comment was added by SemperBlotto (talkcontribs).
  7. Symbol support vote.svg Support H. (talk) 09:16, 12 July 2007 (UTC) as per my predecessor SemperBlotto, who forgot to sign.
  8. Symbol support vote.svg Support I consider any word that a professional translator might encounter in texts of all sorts, as I myself have done for many years, to be worthy of inclusion. Proper nouns of all sorts, including brand names, are often a big headache for translators, particularly if the target language uses a script that is different from that of the source language. —Stephen 16:48, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Support I really don't understand the fierce opposition to this. It seems obvious to me that we should include any and all types of attested words or phrases. A-cai 08:08, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
  10. Symbol support vote.svg Support, of course - may as well get the vote on paper now, before I forget. Cheers! bd2412 T 01:53, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
  11. Symbol support vote.svg Support Rod (A. Smith) 03:38, 1 August 2007 (UTC) Whether a word originates from a corporate marketing department has no bearing on whether it is meaningful. If English readers encounter a word and might want to know what it means, let's define it. There seems to be a fear that including such terms will unleash corporate marketing hordes, but if so, we can put them to use by forcing them to provide legitimate citations. Rod (A. Smith) 03:38, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
  12. Symbol support vote.svg Support--Dmol 09:34, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
  13. Symbol support vote.svg Support Jusjih 17:08, 6 August 2007 (UTC)


  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose That discussion is nowhere near concluded, especially since this proposal just came out of thin air and is significantly different from what you raised there: "If a brand is so well known that a novel or national magazine or major newspaper article uses the brand name in place of the name of the product, without providing context on the assumption that readers will understand, then it is worthy of inclusion." Did you just post the proposal to the BP first for show, or what?

    As for the proposal itself, if I am to believe your citations that qualify, this is Yet Another scope-widening proposal that disregards actual linguistic merit and usage."She drove an Accord and lived modestly." is seriously a citation that would fulfill the criteria? I'd oppose on that alone. Surely you know that no one refers to cars as an "Accord car," or a "Camry car" or whatever, because that sounds wrong in the English language. Therefore your proposal automatically included every make of car ever, because it is trivial to find a usage of the least notable car if all you need is "She drove X." Indeed, it would be difficult to find one that explicitly called it a car. People eat Doritos, and Frosted Flakes, Kudos, and even Black Cherry Blue OX Real Power, but it would be unnatural to write or say that I am eating (or dinking) my "Doritos chips", "Frosted Flakes cereal", "Kudos granola bar", or "Black Cherry Blue OX Real Power energy drink." I suppose these and all their fellow products regardless of significance are to be included wholesale, then. Some brand names have indeed entered the language and have merit enough for inclusion in a general dictionary. As I pointed out on the abortive WT:BP thread, kleenex, band-aid, frisbee, aspirin, speedo, and photoshop are all good examples. Those make sense because they are genericized trademarks that already pass the current CFI. Making exceptions for inappropriate encyclopedic content is a bad idea, however.

    The citations you give ("She drove an Accord" and many more on the BP thread) are simply bad rationales for inclusion. These are about people using the names literally, not as genericized trademarks, just as I do when I say I'm going to go watch Sicko or read Harry Potter, or that I am an admirer of Chester A. Arthur, or that I frequent Trader Joe's or Wells Fargo, or any other proper name. In fact, I rather suspect those categories of proper names are intended to be the next proposals, aren't they? This is more of the same conflation of the dictionary with the encyclopedia, and proper noun policies need to be worked out, not invented and put up or a vote in less than a week. Dmcdevit·t 06:22, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

    This proposal is significantly different from what I raised in the Beer Parlor because it has been narrowed and fine tuned by the discussion that occured there. That discussion had reached a point where the majority had expressed support for a narrowly couched change, and the intransigents would remain intransigent, their views to be swept aside by history. The first definition that Wiktionary offers for "word" is "A distinct unit of language (sounds in speech or written letters) with a particular meaning, composed of one or more morphemes, and also of one or more phonemes that determine its sound pattern." I propose to define words. Your examples suggest you have not read (or understood) the proposal. Please show me where three independent authors in a span of three years have referred to "Black Cherry Blue OX Real Power" without making any reference to it being an energy drink, and I will withdraw my proposal. The fact that "Accord car" is not an normal arrangement is meaningless. The author could have written "her car was an Accord", or "she drove an Accord, a modest car". You say that it is "trivial to find a usage of the least notable car". Please, show me three citations fulfilling the requirements above for the Carina, the Versailles, and the Sundance. Cheers! bd2412 T 06:50, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    I had a girlfriend who drove a Sundance...when discussing that car with mechanics, (i.e. people who could be expected to know,) when I would describe the "Plymouth Sundance" (never just "Sundance" without qualification,) I was told, several times, that each of those mechanics had never heard of that nameplate before. So, thank you for pointing out that fallacy. [1] [2] [3] and many, many, many more. --Connel MacKenzie 15:02, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    I don't see how any of those would meet the proposed criteria; they aren't durably archived, for one thing. -- Visviva 15:39, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    Connel, I do hope you realize that none of the links you have posted would qualify as sources under my proposed amendment to the CFI. They are all from websites about cars, and therefore each is "from a source which is about the type of product in general". I reiterate, you will not find three sources that meet the proposed guidelines because the guidelines are sufficiently narrowly drawn to exclude them. Please try again. Cheers! bd2412 T 16:21, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    I hope you realize that I provided three immediately available links...they were examples of the absurdity of what you suggest - that the criteria as you have specified it leads to inclusion of such items. This proposal is headed in the wrong direction; that of allowing more than we should, rather than clearly specifying what we should not more clearly. To be fair though, I did not see your prohibition that said "from a source which is about the type of product in general." However, I do not understand how your other examples meet that criteria. Furthermore, those sites are service related, not manufacture-related. So I could reasonably expect to see arguments in their favor, right? Or is auto-service the same thing as auto-manufacturing? --Connel MacKenzie 18:32, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    "I drove my Chevy to the auto service center" provides a context which makes it clear that the Chevy is likely an automobile. A website (or usenet group) about repairing cars is no different than one that is about making or selling cars with respect to the context being about cars. By contrast, The Pelican Brief, quoted above, is about a lawyer who gets caught up in investigating the assassination of two Supreme Court Justices - so the mention of the protagonist driving an Accord (as opposed to a Porsche or a Towncar or a Dodge Ram) is an incidental use intended to tell us something about the protagonist based on the presumption that we already know what an Accord is and what kind of person drives one. bd2412 T 18:42, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    To be honest, saying "the mention of the protagonist driving an Accord is an incidental use intended to tell us something about the protagonist based on the presumption that we already know what an Accord is and what kind of person drives one" is so contrived as to be useless. Your assumption that every use of a proper noun out of context necessarily indicates some intent by the author to convey some sort of ulterior meaning is incomprehensible to me, but it argues against your point, anyway. I would not be surprised if in most cases, it was simply a literal meaning intended, where the author made an editorial decision to include a proper name as more descriptive than a common noun like "car," regardless of whether the proper name was recognizable. If "driving an Accord" or related expressions are really idiomatic expressions that mean (or imply) "living modestly" and are regularly understood as such, as you seem to indicate, then we should define that, and we are doing a disservice to tell our readers simply about the brand. This doesn't require any modifications to CFI. Don't conflate your proposal to include brand names with normal procedures for inclusion of easily attested word meanings. Dmcdevit·t 19:03, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
    Would you be more receptive if the requirements excluded literal meanings, stipulating that citations imply reference to some quality or attribute of the brand in question that is not evident from knowledge of the brand's type? DAVilla 22:31, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
    You mean we should include brand names if they have attributive sense? Dmcdevit·t 06:17, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
    No. The current CFI require that they be used attributively (i.e. as a modifier on another noun); so, for example, the current CFI would include "Accord" on the basis of cites for "Accord car", and would not include it on the basis of cites where it's used on its own. This proposal is many times more sane. —RuakhTALK 16:25, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
    I'm not aware of any requirement that an attributive use be an adjectival use, and if there is one, there shouldn't be. A word can be used attributively (i.e. denoting an attribute) regardless of POS. If using of the word Accord commonly denotes that the drivers of such are modest, or whatever, and that attributive usage can be attested, it should be included. I think you are reading to much into the literal words of the policy and not the spirit, if that's how you are interpreting it. Dmcdevit·t 06:43, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
    "Spirit" can sometimes be inferred, but this criterion uses a common linguistic term with a specific meaning, and includes an example that conforms to this meaning; I think it's a stretch to say that the spirit of the policy is different from the policy's literal meaning in this case. (By the way, I should correct my above comment: "Accord" is a brand name, and therefore the current CFI actually don't say anything about attributive use, but rather require that the term be used as a general term for the kind of product, e.g. used to mean "car", or "long-hooded car with a V6 engine", or whatnot.) —RuakhTALK 07:05, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
    Not for the first time on Wiktionary, nor even the tenth, I find myself feeling as if I had come in at the end of a long conversation which no one feels the need to explain to newcomers. If the nominator is planning to make absurd proposals in the future, there's no reason for that to encumber our decision-making here. Absurd proposals will remain absurd; and if with experience we find that the criteria given here don't work after all, they can always be changed back. -- Visviva 15:39, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
  2. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Connel MacKenzie 15:02, 11 July 2007 (UTC) This insidious proposal seeks to inflict the Wikipedia notion of "notability" onto Wiktionary; herein couched in the most forgivable manner imaginable...with a brutally clear, stated intent to delve further once the thin-edge-of-the-wedge (i.e. this vote) is over.
    While this proposal does extend the citations period to a more reasonable three years, it glosses over the fact that the corporate promotion suggested is completely and irrevocably inexcusable. This proposal also bypasses the more intelligent, explicit prohibition of all trademarks and brand names, as it should. There certainly should be an option for that, in any such proposal. While that would result in the elimination of a handful of entries that we do have (Microsoft, Ford, etc.) that would only return en.wiktionary.org to mimicking a normal dictionary. On one hand, we all want Wiktionary to be recognized as a real dictionary; on the other, proposals like this seek to undermine the enormous task of defining all words in all languages, by overwhelming it with useless advertising, specific advertising misspellings, specific advertising mis-constructions and link-spam, while ignoring the normal rules for English sentence construction. When this is extended to person names the only conclusion could be that every human name plus every pet's name should therefore also immediately merit inclusion (birth records will certainly mention a person's name; Usenet birth announcements, etc., would then qualify anyone alive to have "three durably archived citations spanning three years.")
    The only reasonable outcome can be that no trademarks be mentioned outside of an etymology section, with only the generic use of a term being "defined" in a dictionary. Otherwise, we are no longer a "dictionary" but instead, a laughing stock, of no lexical value to anyone.
    Your deceptive misrepresentation of the WT:BP discussion is insulting and inexcusable. It is very clear you intend to strike while the iron is hot, pushing invalid reforms, proposed less than a week ago, while you conveniently happen to have an abnormally high number of people misled by your duplicitous wording. The intent of WT:VOTE is to solidify proposals that clearly have widespread support; not to foster divisiveness, resentment and retaliation by pushing invalid proposals through, against valid concerns. --Connel MacKenzie 15:02, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    erm, Connel, I fail to see how your argument is not self-contradictory - how are "the ... explicit prohibition of all trademarks and brand names" compatible with "the enormous task of defining all words in all languages"?. Are you arguing that trademarks and brand names are not words? Or perhaps you are suggesting they are not part of a language? Thryduulf 17:38, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    They are not part of the language. Trademarks are generated to resemble words, usually with the addition of specific mistakes or misspellings. The core language (and translations of it) cannot be addressed when obliterated by such an enormous volume of intentional mistakes. But your trivial dismissal doesn't address any of the other points I raised. Tell me this: what other major dictionaries (such as we seek to be recognized as) include trademarks that haven't been made generic? Why not? Because they aren't part of the language. This vote proposal seems counter to exactly that which is so painfully obvious to linguists and reference publishers alike. --Connel MacKenzie 18:25, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    Indeed, really what we are disputing here is not whether brand names are words, but at what point they become "part of the language" - is it when they become generic (like aspirin) and no longer even identify a specific product? Or is it when the use of a particular brand name becomes so widespread that when any person says "I have an X" (a Ford, a Gameboy, a Budweiser) you are presumed to know exactly what kind of object they are claiming to have? I'm advocating something much stricter than that, however, I am advocating inclusing for brand names that are so widespread that multiple authors over a period of years choose to use those names in lieu of the name of the object itself. By the way, speaking as an intellectual property attorney, please note that a brand name is not necessarily the same as a trademark. Cheers! bd2412 T 18:50, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    imho the point a brand name enters the language is when people use it without explaining what sort of thing it is and expect you to know, because this is when people are treating them like standard words. For example people say things like "John's got a new printer, it's a HP PhotoSmart" or "John's got a new PhotoSmart printer", not "John's got a new PhotoSmart" or "John's got a new Hewlett-Packard". Contrast this with "John's got a new Mondeo" or "John's got a new Mazda", which assume you know that "Mondeo" and "Mazda" are types of car. This proposal makes this distinction - it will not allow "PhotoSmart" or "Hewlett-Packard" into Wiktionary are they are not used out of context. It will allow "Mondeo" and "Mazda" in iff there are three independent out-of-context, durably archived sources cited. This will likely exclude many terms that are used without explanation because they are used on sites that are about the general subject, for example I would know what is meant in the following sentences "Adbul bought himself an EOS the other day", "Another Voyager broke down yesterday" and "I've just used ArcView for the first time in several months", however none of these would be included because the words are only used in this way in the context of digital cameras, trains and cartographic software respectively - even though they are used in the same was as words that you would expect to find in any dictionary, e.g. "Abdul bought himself an auger the other day", "Another frigate broke down yesterday" and "I've just used paracetamol for the first first time in several months". Thryduulf 21:12, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    Well, my "oppose" vote indicates that I don't share your opinion, for all the reasons I've stated. --Connel MacKenzie 03:17, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
  3. Without going into too much detail; this sounds very vague as a proposal - I see the potential of it though, as a big pusher of boundaries for proper nouns, but the CFI would never sound professional with this... --Keene 23:20, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    OK, I'll expand: Mentions of brand names happen all the time - in a simple sketchy example think of the sentence "I went to a Subway, which was as good as ever" - Subway is mentioned, the meaning isn't given and it is not promotional - I'm not convinced. You started with the proposal of brand names into Wiktionary...soone all proper nouns will be under similar scrutiny - much discussion is to be had, for sure--Keene 23:32, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
    Would you mind clarifying if this is a vote? You did not substitute the template, per the instructions, so there is no boldface decision. Comments from other users have made it very unclear to me if the numbering has any significance. DAVilla 22:17, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
  4. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose We're not an encyclopedia. You don't go into a normal dictionary and be able to look up Ford. To use one of the original examples. But really, this isn't an encyclopdia. Supporting this would be turning it into one, at least in my opinion. Neskaya 03:06, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
    But what if you don't know that it is a brand name? Consider the following sentences "Alan bought himself a Mondeo" and "Alan bought himself a mannequin" If you don't know the words, which is why you'd look them up in a dictionary, how do you know to you can look up one in a dictionary, but you need to use an encyclopaedia to look up the other? Thryduulf 08:43, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
    Well, in English, the capitalization is a big hint. —RuakhTALK 16:51, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
    It is a hint but no more than that, and not always reliable. There are capitalised proper and ordinary nouns that are both included and excluded here, there are trade names and brand names that use no (or random) capitalisation and in informal English usage, particularly online, traditional capitalisation is becoming increasingly less adhered to. Additionally none of these help if you heard the word rather than read it. Thryduulf 18:55, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
    Not to be overly blunt, but, so what? It's not a dictionary's place to document all proper nouns, even ones someone doesn't know about. w:Brody Dalle does not belong. As that's a Wikipedia article subject, I'm sur eI could find a similarly out-of-context sentence like you have, and what is a person to do if they can't find it? That's like asking what a person at Wikipedia is to do when they can't find a definition of a word that it doesn't have for having no encyclopedic merit, or at Wikisource, when someone searches for s:alarm clock. well, we do the best we can to direct misplaced readers to the right projects in the failed search pages, and that will be as close to ideal as I can imagine when interwiki #ifexist comes in, but in the end it is not our responsibility to change our inclusion criteria for the people that should be at n encyclopedia but don't know it. We should include things based on linguistic merit and usage always, not "whether someone who knows no better might look it up in a dictionary anyway." Tha way lies proper nouns of all types, and why not protologisms, too? Dmcdevit·t 22:26, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
    I think my proposal is essentially based on linguistic merit - I'm proposing that certain words should be included based on their use out of context. In other words, I'm not saying that Ford should be included because Ford is a big and notable company, or because they sell lots of cars; I'm saying Ford should be included because sources demonstrate that people are likely to use the word as a substitute for a specific class of product described (in a way that they are not likely to do for, say, the Mondeo). Cheers! bd2412 T 16:58, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
  5. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose This is not for me so much a debate about whether product names can be considered words; like proper nouns, they are constructed (usually) from phonemes of the target language and conform to the applicable grammatical rules. Rather, this debate is about how broad a range of product names we should include here. Since I assume no one here would argue that *all* product names should come in without restriction, I'll start from there.

    I would strongly prefer that *most* product names not come in, and that the few that do are the exception to the rule. I feel this way because I view language and our cataloguing of it as something that belongs to the commons, whereas product names belong to their owners; language at its roots is not commercialized, but product names are. In a world where you can't spit without hitting some piece of advertising, I'd like to keep wiktionary more or less free of that commercial tinge. I'd also like our readers to have the sense that this project is about language more than about products or brands.

    Additionally, I want us to spend most of our energy in the wiktionary project on language as we usually think of it; all those vocabulary words, expressions, definitions, etymologies and translations that have yet to be done or made nice for what we think of as the English language (and here I argue that most people don't think of product names when they think of constituents of the English language). If an editor only has so much time on their hands, I'd much rather see the core language entry base improved.

    My sense after poking around some on google is that the current proposal would tip the balance much too far in the direction of letting most product names in, a step I don't want to see us take for the reasons described above. For that reason, I oppose it.

    For folks who are concerned that the language learner will be stuck when encountering one of these terms, wikipedia is one excellent solution. (I use google often enough, but I understand that relying on a commercial company's proprietary product cannot be an acceptable solution here.)

    Sorry I did not weigh in on BP earlier; the discussion had already been moved here by the time I heard about it. I was still formulating a response on the place names issue. ArielGlenn 21:18, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

  6. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Brand names come and go. Explaining such trivia in the Wiktionary would amount to advertizing. A brand name needs to be explained only if it is repeatedly used out of context, so that the average reader cannot deduce from the text what type of product is being discussed.

    I don't use American foodstuffs, and I have never owned a car, but I can easily understand all the citations given by bd2412, here and on the Beer Parlor discussion page. When the Old Man is gulping Alka-Seltzer, I assume it's a drink, not acid, cocaine, or air - I choose the most probable explanation. If the Old Man washed his hair with Alka-Seltzer, I would get lost and imagine that it's a shampoo. But none of the writers cited are using brand names out of context. They know that it might be misunderstood.

    Cars and chocolate bars have names in the real world, and are used as nouns in casual speech, so some writers use them in fiction , tying the story to a definite place and time, or to show that the characters are brand-conscious. It is not a proof that those brands are widely known or a permanent fixture of the language. It's like mentioning names of real streets - there is no need to recognize the street in order to enjoy the story. Makaokalani 09:17, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

    • Actually, Alka-Seltzer is not a drink, it's a medication that you put in a drink. But the usage is ambiguous enough to mislead you to think it's a drink. I don't propose that any time a brand is mentioned in a story it should be included, but that repeated mention of a particular brand by different authors spread out over several years does indicate that the brand is widely known and/or a permanent fixture of the language. bd2412 T 16:42, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
It indicates that Alka-Seltzer has been produced for several years. If the manufacturer went bankrupt the word would disappear. And what difference would it make to the story if I knew how the drink is made?--Makaokalani 09:06, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
I reiterate, Alka-Seltzer is not a drink. bd2412 T 02:02, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
  1. Lots of medications have been "produced for several years" without being mentioned out of context in literary works - and it is precisely because Alka-Seltzer is durably archived in such works that the word would not disappear if the company went bankrupt. Consider these:
    Henry Robinson Luce, Briton Hadden, Time (1923):
    • In the first of a series of almost ceremonial deaths, one Indian rams his model T into an imitation totem pole.
    Forrest Edwin Long, Philip Westcot Lawrence Cox, The Clearing House (1920) p. 558:
    • This institution is no Model T.
    Southern Methodist University, Southwest Review (1924) p. 356:
    • Jerked my thumb at a Model T, So-and-so wouldn't stop for me.
    Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, The New England Quarterly (1928) p. 543:
    • I can find no internal evidence that the journey was not made in the back seat of a Model T with the curtains drawn—except that the style is painfully pedestrian.
    William Theodore Evjue, The Progressive (1929):
    • ... whenever they learned that a lynching was brewing they went by buggy, train, or Model T straight to the sheriff of the county and stayed with him until he did something about it.
    Whit Burnett and Martha Foley in Story Magazine, (1931):
    • "Is a guy sore if the Model T he got for twenty bucks don't run after he's run it five year? Forget it Johnny, profit and loss."
    Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Westering (1934) p. 89:
    • You can get about as much from a Model-T/Stripped and forgotten in a sage arroyo/As you can from asking the blue peaks over and over: "Will something old come back again tonight?"
    Lila Bell Acheson Wallace, De Witt Wallace, The Reader's Digest (1955) p. 40:
    • All of a sudden, as Martin covered the countryside in his Model T, he began to notice strange sights...
    David Mark Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The First Century of the Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1965 (1965) p. 225:
    • Carts was on his way to the governor's mansion, touring the rural back country in his Model T, sounding the warning against the encroachments of Satan.
    James Stuart Olson, Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (1999) p. 59:
    • When Senator Oscar Underwood announced his intention to retire in 1926, Black decided to run for Senate. He simply took off on his own, covering the back country alone in his Model-T, speaking anywhere he could find listeners and staying with anyone who would put up with him.
    Steve Striffler, Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America's Favorite Food (2005) p. 40:
    • Charles Odell Lovette, the patriarch of the family that was to build North Carolina-based Holly Farms into one of the largest poultry companies in the world, began in the mid-1920s by gathering country produce in his Model T and hauling it to city markets.
    Now, to my knowledge, no Model T has been produced since 1928, but that hasn't erased early literary references, nor even stopped new ones from popping up. Cheers! bd2412 T 14:30, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
I admit that if a brand name has been mentioned fifty times in fifty years, it would merit an entry. I'll accept Model T. But three citations in three years means nothing. ( You do take trouble finding citations! )--Makaokalani 07:48, 19 July 2007 (UTC)


  1. Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain Widsith 09:14, 23 July 2007 (UTC) I don't think I have strong feelings either way.


  • I'm going to call this one as failed, although narrowly, and put it up to vote again with even more restrictions, per the comments here. As of the close, the vote was 13 in favor, 6 (apparently) opposed, and 1 abstaining. I would consider withdrawing my vote only because 12-6-2 is easier to call. DAVilla 11:11, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Some counting years later: this is 68% in support, determined as 13 / ( 13 + 6). With DAVilla's vote withdrawn (which has not happened), this would be 66,6% (two thirds) in support, determined as 12 / ( 12 + 6 ). There is a follow-up vote that has passed unequivocally: Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-08/Brand names of products 2. --Dan Polansky 11:31, 25 October 2010 (UTC)