Kindle (neosense)

n. an e-reader, or  hand-held electronic device on which electronic versions of books, magazines, or newspapers can be read, that was developed by the online retailer Amazon (

General denotation:

v. 1. light or set on fire 2. arouse or inspire 3. become impassioned or excited (


Kindle is a Middle English word derived from Old Norse kynda meaning to light a fire, influenced by Old Norse kindill meaning a candle or torch. It was first used in the form cundel with regard to fires around 1200 and used more figuratively with regard to feelings in the 1300s ( The word was used to name Amazon’s e-reader around 2005 and was coined by Michael Cronan, a respected graphic designer. The name for this e-reader is somewhat controversial because people thought it may allude to burning books. Cronan’s wife explains that the name was instead chosen because, “From Voltaire: ‘The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the property of all.'” ( Since the first kindle’s release in 2007, the product has become so popular that the word kindle is often used synonymously with e-reader, rather than just as a brand name.

Sociolectal Information:

Kindle is a house-hold term, known by most social circles excluding perhaps the older generation. I believe most people would be familiar with kindle’s neosense, as the product itself is so popular. Many college students and professors own kindles, meaning that they would also recognize the word. On campus, kindles are mostly used for recreational reading, in place of the physical books. They can also be used academically, though, as some textbooks are offered at a discounted price on the kindle versus as a physical copy. Thus, kindles are present on campus, making the term well-known also.

Survival Predictions:

Kindle is trademarked as a brand name for Amazon’s e-reader, meaning it cannot be replaced by another word and will survive to describe this product. However, kindle (as opposed to Kindle) being used to describe any e-reader has a different prognosis. The word kindle is only used in reference to other e-readers because of its popularity. In the past few years, statistics show that if people are reading e-books, they are doing so overwhelmingly on Kindles ( However, as technology develops further, more options are becoming available for reading online. For instance, the iPad is becoming an increasingly popular option, causing Kindle sales to decline. With this trend in mind, I predict that the term kindle will not survive to describe all e-readers, as it will not hold the same monopoly on this field of technology. Plus, no one would ever mistake an iPad for a Kindle, as the Apple technology is even more popular and well known. Thus, kindle may not survive for much longer, but Kindle will certainly remain to describe Amazon’s product as long as it exists. (


I believe that kindle is a very fitting name for e-readers. Kindle has a warm, pleasant connotation, most likely due to its original use regarding fire. It suggests inspiration and light, making it a very strategic word for advertising. In my opinion, kindles made reading exciting again for many people. Children view kindles as a cool gadget, making them excited to use the product to read and learn. In addition, kindles’ e-ink technology allows for easier reading outdoors. The light does not reflect off of the pages, and the wind does cause me to lose my page. Further, I can read my kindle in the dark without turning on a light because the page is back-lit, making it easier to read while my roommate is sleeping. Thus, the word kindle is incredibly positive and reflects the great things about this technology in my opinion. I think it sitting down to read a Kindle almost sounds more positive and cozy than just sitting down to read a book. However, there are some who believe that reading books online is practically sacrilegious. They believe that books should be read in a physical form, where turning the page is a tactile sensation rather than a tap on the screen. This group of people would most likely view the word kindle in a negative light as they believe it has ruined reading and will keep the future generation from experiencing an afternoon curled up with a hard cover book.

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