Right now, many people use the word xerox as a verb meaning "photocopy" in general. Most of us know that it's also a trademark: as a noun, Xerox was legally claimed by the Haloid Company in 1952. You'd think the company would be thrilled with its product name passing into public use, because they would force other corporations to use generic names while strengthening the reputation of their company, but the Haloid Co. thought differently. You see, if a judge rules that a name becomes too generic, the trademark can be lost, so Haloid actually has fought pretty bitterly against using Xerox as a verb. Anyway, back when they formed the word, it was meant as a cool-sounding modification of xerography, the name for a photocopying process, and a term only coined four years before Xerox itself. This is a portmanteau of Ancient Greek xeros, meaning "dry", and -graphy, that common suffix for something written- so, xerography means "dry writing", which sort of makes sense. Xeros comes from the Proto-Indo-European root kseros, with the same meaning, and -graphy comes from the Greek root graphein (or "writing"), from Proto-Italic grupho, from Proto-Indo-European gerbh, meaning "to carve". Now you know.
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.