Since COVID-19, we’ve seen that clear plastic installed to protect us in businesses and schools. But is it plexiglas or plexiglass?
So let’s talk about those clear sheets of plastic that became as familiar as face coverings. We know the most common name for it. But should we spell it plexiglas or plexiglass?
In certain situations, both may be correct. In other cases, only one is truly correct.
So what makes the difference? Well, that’s easy. It depends on who actually manufactures it.
First things first. The generic term is plexiglass. That’s with two Ss. Plexiglass is a transparent acrylic plastic often used in place of glass, according to Merriam-Webster.
A recent Washington Post article carries a photo with this caption:
Santa dons a face shield and sits behind plexiglass at a Bass Pro Shops store this week in Springfield, Mo.
So that’s an example of that word in use.
But who made that plexiglass?
Well that’s where things become a little tricky. Different companies manufacture those acrylic sheets. Each of them likely has their own trademarked name for the variety they make.
Plexiglas — the single-S variety — is a trademark for the acrylic sheets Arkema makes. Arkema is a subsidiary of Altuglas International.
Arkema, therefore, makes Plexiglas-brand plexiglass. Officially, one should use the registered trademark symbol, ®, when referring specifically to the Plexiglas® brand. Of course, for most writing cases, that symbol only gets in the way and is irrelevant to the reader, even if trademark attorneys really, really want it there.
Lucite, on the other hand, is the brand name (and trademark) for Lucite International’s version of plexiglass.
Roehm makes Acrylite, which they style in all caps. But they sell their products under the trademark of Plexiglass in the European, Asian, African and Australian continents, and under the Acrylite brand in America.
How’s that for confusing.
Those aren’t the only manufacturers who make plexiglass. They all have their own unique name for it.
But no matter what they call it, it’s still plexiglass. With an -ss.