Anna asked why the
suffix –o shows up in so many product names. She cited Jello, Beano, and Brillo
To be honest, I don’t
know how many brand names use the –o- ending. Off the top of my head, I can add
Oreo, Eggo, Zippo, and Crisco. I do know that one of the first products to use
the terminal –o in its name was Oxo, a concentrated meat extract invented in
Britain in1840. At first it was in liquid form; by 1910, a cube form had been
In some cases, the –o
ends the word as a result of truncation. One example that occurs to me is the
Mallo Cup, a candy treat that I loved as a child. It was a chocolate cup filled
with a creamy marshmallow center. Quite obviously, the manufacturer shortened
marshmallow to Mallo.
A special subcategory
for truncation emerges when the terminal –o is preceded by the letter c. In
this case, rather than being a product name, it signifies a company or
corporation. Examples include Pepsico, Aramco, Masco, and Cisco.
In other cases, words
may have been borrowed from the Italian or Spanish, for example, retaining the
–o ending from the original -- or the use of –o may be simulation or
imitation. Progresso Soup and the Chevy Silverado come to mind.
My Irish uncle used to
refer to me as boyo, an example showing that the –o ending is sometimes used in
a colloquial term of familiarity or whimsicality. It’s purely subjective, of
course, but I think that Zippo, Brillo, Beano, and Wham-O are rather jaunty.
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