Google (verb)

The transitive verb to google (also spelled to Google) refers to using the Google search engine to obtain information on the Web. However, it can also be used as a general term for searching the internet using any search engine, not just Google. A neologism arising from the popularity and dominance of the eponymous search engine, the American Dialect Society chose it as the "most useful word of 2002." It was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, 2006, and to the eleventh edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in July 2006. The first recorded usage of google used as a participle, thus supposing the verb, was on July 8, 1998, by Google co-founder Larry Page himself, who wrote on a mailing list: "Have fun and keep googling!"

Fearing the genericizing and potential loss of its trademark, Google has discouraged use of the word as a verb, particularly when used as a synonym for general web searching. On February 23, 2003, the company sent a cease and desist letter to Paul McFedries, creator of Word Spy, a website that tracks neologisms. In an article in the Washington Post, Frank Ahrens discussed the letter he received from a Google lawyer that demonstrated "appropriate" and "inappropriate" ways to use the verb "google". It was reported that, in response to this concern, lexicographers for the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary lowercased the actual entry for the word, google, while maintaining the capitalization of the search engine in their definition, "to use the Google search engine to seek online information" (a concern which did not deter the Oxford editors from preserving the history of both "cases"). On October 25, 2006, Google sent a request to the public requesting that "you should please only use 'Google' when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services."