Words at Play : Top 10 Words from Trademarks

#7: Ping-Pong

In the late 1800s, some creative Brits reportedly used cigar box lids to bat rounded wine corks across a table. A line of standing books provided the net.

The game quickly gained a number of names, among them table tennis, gossima, flim-flam, and also – based on the sounds of the sport – "ping-pong."

Before long, the British manufacturer J. Jaques & Sons had registered the term Ping-Pong. The American rights to that name were soon purchased by Parker Brothers (and are now owned by Escalade Sports).

By 1934, ping-pong had acquired a generic meaning: "something resembling a game of table tennis, especially a series of usually verbal exchanges between two parties."

That's fitting, because by then Parker Brothers and the International Table Tennis Federation had spent years going back and forth over the names.

Since 1988, table tennis (not Ping-Pong) has been an Olympic sport.

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