13 brands that have become nouns in French.

Here’s a list of common items that are now referred to by the leading or original brand name. You will already be familiar with some I’m sure:

1.  Un BIC is a pen (from the brand BIC that also makes lighters and razors).

2. Un Caddie is a shopping cart.

3.  Un Chamallow is a Marshmallow from the name given by the company Haribo to the “guimauve”. In Quebec, the term “une guimauve” is used. They like to make fun of us Frenchies who use the term Chamallow 🙂

4. Une fermeture  Éclair is a zipper. Fermeture à glissière is a proper way to name a zipper but it just isn’t used very much at all.

5. Un frigo is a fridge from the brand Frigidaire.

6. Un Karcher is a pressure washer named after a company that makes them.

7. Un Kleenex, just as in English, is a tissue.

8. Une Mobylette is a moped. The name comes from the company that built a popular model many years ago.

9. Une Boule Quiès designates ear plugs.

10. Le Sopalin is the common name of paper towel. The name originated from the first company to ever produce them: Société du Papier Linge.

11. You can probably guess what un Tupperware is. It is any type of plastic container used in the kitchen.

12. Le Nutella is a staple of French breakfasts. The brand name is now used to designate any chocolate spread that tries to mimic the original.

13. Un Kway is a rain jacket, named after the company that sold many jackets in France a few decades ago.

While the above words are technically not the proper ways to designate the corresponding items, using them will make you or your French Immersion student sounds more like a native French speaker.