My May column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at a two-letter word that’s become ubiquitous in brand names and slogans: go. We see it in GoPro cameras, the HBO GO streaming service, Grab & Go airport meals, the Ford GoBike, and much more.
Full access to the column is paywalled for three months; here’s a sample:
As a shorthand suffix (or prefix) meaning “mobility, especially of the electronic-device category” go is relatively new, and its ubiquity feels sudden. But go has been with us as a verb since the dawn of English, and as a noun – “the action or fact of going” – since the 17th century. Later, it found new life as an interjection such as “Go, team!” (first seen in print, according to the OED, in 1831) and an adjective (in the 1930s and 1940s, a “go man” or “go girl” was modern and fashionable; beginning in the early years of manned space flight, an engine or system has been “go” if it’s ready for implementation).
Go can mean to live or to die; in past centuries it also meant to be pregnant (for example, “The female goes two months, and then brings forth two young ones”). It can mean to travel, to occur, or to elapse, to function, or to have authority (“What I say goes!”). It has meant “to pay a visit to the toilet” (as the OED primly puts it) since Old English.
Charmin toilet paper introduced its “Enjoy the Go” slogan in 2009. More on the ad campaign here.