Word of the Day


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to clean a carpet or floor with a vacuum cleaner

Origin and usage

The noun Hoover spelled with a capital letter is the proprietary name of a type of vacuum cleaner made by the Hoover company and patented in 1927. When spelled with a lower-case ‘h’ the noun is used to apply generally to any vacuum cleaner. The noun was quickly verbed: the first written citation for the verb Hoover dates from 1939, with lower case uses following soon afterwards. The phrasal verb to hoover up, meaning to devour or consume completely, dates from 1970.


The brand names of familiar objects sometimes become so closely associated with the objects themselves that they start to be used to refer to any object of that type. Sometimes the name of the object then becomes a verb, initially used to refer to the activity done using it. In a further step, the verb can acquire figurative meanings as well. This is the case of Hoover, an example of a brand name that became an eponym with meanings that go beyond the function of the original product.


“I love hoovering. People go to therapists; I’ve got a Hoover.”
(Maxine Peake)”Governments hoover up people’s telephone and e-mail records without oversight, and companies track astonishingly granular personal information.”
(Wil Wheaton)

Related words

carpet sweeper, vacuum, vacuum cleaner

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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