In many posts I see that the script for automatic post deletion is called Roomba:

But I can’t find the origin of the name Roomba. Could someone explain it to me?


1 Answer 1


A Roomba is a brand of automatic robotic vacuum cleaner for cleaning floors.

The first robotic vacuum cleaner was the Electrolux Trilobite in 2001. The iRobot Roomba was released in 2002. Many brands are now available, but it is the Roomba that most people associate with robotic vacuum cleaners (in the same way the brand Hoover became associated with standard vacuum cleaners in the past.


Image taken from the Wikipedia Roomba page.

The implication is that the post deletion script functions by itself in the background, so sometimes users will find posts have been deleted when they return home, much like the way in which a robotic vacuum cleaner will clean your house while you are away.

It’s probably important to point out that XKCD loves Roombas!

XKCD 1558 - Vet

Another consideration (with thanks to Mari-Lou A) is that the word Roomba is a play on words. Rumba is a style of music and type of dance. The robotic vacuum cleaner also dances and sweeps across the room, hence roomba. Similarly the Stack Exchange Roomba sweeps data away.

  • 5
    I think this fails to explain that the term is only known in North America (due to the market for robotic vacuum cleaners there?). And why "Roomba" has presumably become a synonym in North America for an automatic robotic vacuum cleaner. Like xerox vs. photocopier. Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 0:36
  • If it has become a (local) common noun shouldn't it be spelled "roomba"? Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 0:38
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    @PeterMortensen While they originated in North America, Roomba’s are fairly well known here in the UK and certainly available to purchase online and in stores. I believe it’s similar in most of Europe. Other brands are available (Dyson have a notable one). Good point regarding common noun usage. Roomba did for robotic vacuum cleaners what Hoover did for standard vacuum cleaners!
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 13, 2018 at 2:07
  • @Chris Automatic vacuum cleaners might be very much ubiquitous on Earth, but his point was about the specific name that has a less global circulation. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 11:50
  • @ChristianRau I had forgotten about this post! Thanks for your comment. How can I improve the answer? I’ve just done an edit linking to the Roomba product page.
    – Chris
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 12:30
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    I'd say it's a clever play on words rumba is a type of dance, and the automatic cleaner "dances/sweeps" across the room = roomba Ergo the SE Roomba sweeps data away. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 12:54
  • @PeterMortensen - Roomba is a trademarked name. The only company that manufactures them is iRobot. The same way the others, Xerox, Kleenex, etc, would all like to keep their name. You know, aspirin used to be a trademarked name as well? Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:35
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    Roomba is certainly known outside of North America, though it may not have entered the popular consciousness to the same degree. Japan accounts for a quarter of worldside Roomba sales.
    – cjs
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 6:35
  • So, essentially, it's an EPONYM.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 13:53

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