Bravo, Timothy Egan, for your column “Words for the Dumpster,” on words to put out to pasture for 2013.
But the column makes me ponder the word “Dumpster” itself. There is much ado as to whether the word should be capitalized or if it has become generic, making it permissible to lowercase it as “dumpster.” According to Merriam-Webster, the word is still captialized as a brand name. But as Doug Fisher writes in his blog, Common Sense Journalism, we can rest assured that lowercasing “dumpster” is okay, since the AP has given this the nod in its 2013 stylebook.
Did you know the Dumpster was originally called the Dempster-Dumpster after its inventor, George Roby Dempster? Dempster and his brothers formed the Dempster Brothers Construction Company and were responsible for building roads and railroads in the Appalachian region in addition to the aforementioned Dumpster. Dempster was also active in politics and a humanitarian who hired people with disabilities and supported desegregation.
The Dumpster has inspired the art of Dumpster diving. Mac Premo’s Dumpster Project is a repository of memories, while Professor Dumpster’s Dumpster Project is a lesson in waste and environmental sustainability. I can’t but help pointing out that Mac capitalizes Dumpster while the professor does not (unless when referring to himself, of course).
George, in your honor, I will continue to capitalize “Dumpster” and help keep it from sinking into the morass of words that have lost their trademarks. In other words, let’s keep Dumpster, capitalized, out of the trash bin.