Is it okay to call small keys chiclet keys?

by on March 20, 2013

Q: Hello Computer Experts!

We had a recent debate if “Chiclet keys/keyboard” was acceptable.
I’m to write a paper about computer user interfaces – in particular the modern keyboard – and I’m concerned about using a term that is too generalized / local.

It was referenced that this is a US term; and that other countries (Latin in particular) wouldn’t understand …
therefore a limitation on the universality / translatable of the terminology;
although when I did a search of the major computer manufacturers, practically all have used this term.

I’m assuming “Chiclet” is a generic trademark (also known as a genericized trademark – similar to Kleenex;
although this use is with a computer, and has nothing to do with the actual chewing gum product).
Also, the term “chiclet” is used at times to refer to the social media icons.

The alternatives considered were island-style, isolated style keys, premium raised tiles, flat keys/keyboards, spaced keys/keyboard.
So, is it technically acceptable to use “Chiclet keys/keyboard”?

An extension to this discussion was the terms “charms,” “hot keys,” and “shortcuts” – with particular emphasis on “hot keys” (hotkeys, no space?).
This refers to the top row of keys on many newer keyboards that allow immediate access to key Win 8 features, right?

I’ve seen the reference, “HP Touch Smart PC Hot Keys.” So are “hot keys” specific to HP?
What the difference with term “charm”?


One Response to “Is it okay to call small keys chiclet keys?”

    Well, wikipedia seems to think so:

    Technology terms are constantly changing. As new tech is rolled out to consumers that didn’t quite exist before, it’s up to those people blazing the trail to come up with the terms to describe it. Maybe those terms catch on, maybe they don’t. Etymology hasn’t changed from 100 years ago, it just moves faster. Call the things what you want, see what sticks.