Brand-Name Substitutions – Curiosities

While writing the post on punctuation, I thought about how not knowing the right word sometimes can be really frustrating. One time I was trying to explain to a friend that I needed a razor (lâmina) to shave with and I had never needed that word before in Portuguese so I thought of ‘knife’ and ‘something that cuts’ and to make matters worse, I didn’t know the phrase for ‘beard’ or ‘shave’. What ended up happening was I made the motion of shaving my face and my friend said “ah, quer dizer Gillette?!” and I was thinking, “Right, of course it had to be a brand thing.”

Most of the list below will also be the same brand-name substitutions we use in English…and in the case I can’t think of any other word in English, I’ll just leave the item without their English translation. Last but not least, I’ll provide the pronunciation in Portuguese, which often makes the product unrecognizable to the foreign ear.

Band-Aid (band-aidjee)
Razor – Gillette (jeel-letch)
Copy – Xerox (shayrocks)
Aspirin – Aspirina (aspeerina)
Red Bull (hedjee buw)*

* – Thanks Jan for the comment on this brand. You’re so right!

If you can think of any others, let me know and I will add them! I realize that one could say that the list is potentionally exhaustive but I’ll try to keep it to those words which have lost their connection to the actual brand and therefore have fallen into popular usage. Also, the words that sound different than their English pronunciation will be highlighted.