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Google (verb)

This article is about the verb. For the use of the verb in cricket, see Googly. For other uses, see Google (disambiguation).
"Googled" redirects here. For the book of the same name, see Ken Auletta.

The transitive verb[1] to google (also spelled Google) means using the Google search engine to obtain information on something or somebody on the World Wide Web. However, in many dictionaries the verb refers to using any web search engine, such as Yahoo! or Bing.[2] A neologism arising from the popularity and dominance[3] of the eponymous search engine, the American Dialect Society chose it as the "most useful word of 2002."[4] It was added to the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, 2006,[5] and to the eleventh edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in July 2006.[6] The first recorded usage of google used as a participle, thus supposing an intransitive verb, was on July 8, 1998, by Google co-founder Larry Page himself, who wrote on a mailing list: "Have fun and keep googling!"[7] Its earliest known use (as a transitive verb) on American television was in the "Help" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (October 15, 2002), when Willow asked Buffy, "Have you googled her yet?"[8]

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,[9] the company sent a cease and desist letter to Paul McFedries, creator of Word Spy, a website that tracks neologisms.[10] 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".[11] 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").[12] 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."[13]


Ungoogleable (or unGoogleable) is a term for something that cannot be "googled" – i.e. it is a term for something that cannot be found easily using the Google Search web search engine. It is increasingly used to mean something that cannot be found using any web search engine.[14]

In 2013 the Swedish Language Council attempted to include the Swedish version of the word ("ogooglebar") in its list of new words, but Google objected to the definition not being specifically related to Google, and the Council was forced to briefly remove it to avoid a legal confrontation with Google.[15][16]

See also


  1. ^ "Google - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  2. ^ "How Google Became a Verb". The Lingua File - The Language Blog. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  3. ^ Burns, Enid (June 19, 2007). "Top 10 Search Providers, April 2007". Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  4. ^ "2002 Words of the Year". American Dialect Society. January 13, 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  5. ^ Bylund, Anders. "To Google or Not to Google." The Motley Fool. July 5, 2006. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  6. ^ Harris, Scott D. "Dictionary adds verb: to google." San Jose Mercury News. July 7, 2006. Retrieved on July 7, 2006.
  7. ^ Page, Larry (July 8, 1998). "Google Search Engine: New Features". Google Friends Mailing List. Archived from the original on 1999-10-09. Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  8. ^ Arthur, Charles (2012). Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet. Kogan Page Publishers. p. 48. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ McFedries, Paul (February 23, 2003). "Google trademark concerns". American Dialect Society Mailing List. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  10. ^ Duffy, Jonathan. "Google calls in the 'language police'." BBC News. June 20, 2003. Retrieved on July 7, 2006.
  11. ^ Frank Ahrens (2006-08-05). "So Google Is No Brand X, but What Is 'Genericide'?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  12. ^ Noon, Chris. "Brin, Page See 'Google' Take Its Place In Dictionary." Forbes. July 6, 2006. Retrieved on July 7, 2006.
  13. ^ Krantz, Michael (October 25, 2006). "Do you "Google?"". The Official Google Blog. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  14. ^ "Who, What, Why: What is 'ungoogleable'?". BBC News Magazine (BBC). 27 March 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  15. ^ Fanning, Sean (26 March 2013). "Google gets ungoogleable off Sweden's new word list". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  16. ^ Williams, Rob (26 March 2013). "'Ungoogleable' removed from list of Swedish words after row over definition with Google: California based search engine giant asked Swedish to amend definition". The Independent. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 

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