If you were about the sneeze or clean up the aftermath you might be inclined to get or ask for a Kleenex®. However, unless you own the actual brand, you are actually looking for a facial tissue.

Currently there is which is a trademark brand of foam. It can also be incorrect to refer to it as such:

The term is used generically although it is a different material from the extruded polystyrene used for Styrofoam insulation. The Styrofoam brand polystyrene foam, which is used for craft applications, can be identified by its roughness and the fact that it "crunches" when cut.

I propose that we use generics with these. If it can be avoided I would advise against synonyms but I am unsure if it matters if we support them, in this case, or not.

should be replaced by something more representative that is not the brand name.

  • This may be a good use of synonyms... provided there's a clear connection between the name brand product and the generic term. We definitely want to avoid ending up with one tag referring to two completely different things simultaneously.
    – Catija
    May 30, 2016 at 16:26
  • Foam is too generic of a term. There's spray foams and other wet foams. Is polystyrene perhaps better? FWIW, most tags on Science Fiction & Fantasy are trademarked terms, and Bricks even has a title with a trademark.
    – user24
    May 30, 2016 at 16:36
  • @CreationEdge I don't have an issue with the trademark. More the misconception of its use. Yes, foam would be to generic now that I see those other examples. I will redefine the question
    – Matt
    May 30, 2016 at 17:40
  • polystyrene-foam would make sense but I don't think that is intuitive for users. There are so many foam types. polystyrene would not work either since other plastics products are derived from it.
    – Matt
    May 30, 2016 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


I think would work well, with as a synonym. People are familiar with Styrofoam, which is much more intuitive to type.

The usage guidance can include:

For questions about extruded (XPS) and expanded (EPS) polystyrene foam materials, such as Styrofoam (XPS) and bead-board (EPS).

As to the broader case of brand names, I'm not immediately opposed to them. When it comes to certain supplies, the particular brand may be a relevant tag over the generic type. Perhaps would make sense on some questions about that specific brand over just .

A digital parallel I can think of is "Intuos" vs "Drawing Tablet". An Intuos tablet is a Wacom-brand drawing tablet, but its compatibility and features and user-base are different than drawing tablets in general. The same appears to be true of Prismacolors, as I'm starting to learn.

In deciding whether or not to use the branded tag, I would ask:

  1. Is it only being used on questions in a generic way?
  2. Would a reasonable person use or understand the brand name as a stand in for that type of product?

If the answer to these lean towards "yes", then I would recommend the same as here: find a suitable alternative for the general product, and synonymize the brand name. -> , -> , etc.

If the answer is "no", then I would ask:

  1. Does this particular brand refer to a specific product?
  2. Does that product have unique properties or a specialized set of users?

If the answers to the above lean towards "yes", then I would allow the tag to stick around on its own, using my example earlier, however it should be refined to .

If the answer is "no", then the tag probably doesn't need to exist on that question. For instance, I have a question that is about colored pencils in general, but happens to also be about Prismacolor pencils:

What can I do to stop my colored pencils from falling apart?

The tag doesn't really belong, and would suffice.

While I'd be okay with , I haven't yet thought of a great-fit question worth adding it to. It's merely an example to illustrate the idea.

  • 1
    This answer does not take into account that some brands are local (local to US, in the case of this answer; I have never heard of "prismacolor", but I know very well what a "colored pencil" is). Also, it can be confusing: does someone have a problem with a copy machine actually produces by Xerox, or they have a problem with all copy machines? I am pro using the dictionary words instead of the brand names - unless the brand became a common word in time and is documented by most dictionaries. So I prefer "polystyrene" instead of "styrofoam" -the exact recipe is irrelevant to me.
    – virolino
    Oct 7, 2020 at 6:49

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