10.13.2012

we like lists: list # 18: words that were once people

I really enjoy learning about the origins of words and expressions. (I included this in our last list.) Several words now part of ordinary vocabulary started out as proper names.

In 1880, a group of Irish tenant farmers organized a labour ostracism against the agent of an abusive absentee landlord. The agent's name was Charles Boycott.


Charles Ponzi was a con artist who promised investors they would double their money in 90 days.


In the film "La Dolce Vita," directed by Federico Fellini, an intrusive photographer is named Paparazzo.
Thomas Bowdler was a crusading editor who published a book called "The Family Shakespeare": the Bard without the naughty bits. Bowdler believed his work made Shakespeare suitable for the delicate sensibilities of ladies (i.e., upper-class women) and children.

So there we have four words - boycott, Ponzi scheme, paparazzi, and bowdlerized - that are derived from people's names.

Can you think of any others?

Adjectives like "Orwellian" or "Dickensian" don't count. Those refer to conditions described by an author. "Freudian" doesn't qualify, but if, say, dream interpretation was called sigmundosis, that would count.

163 comments:

johngoldfine said...

Spoonerism?

johngoldfine said...

Mrs Grundy?

johngoldfine said...

Kaiser, Czar, Shah--and all those derivatives of Caesar?

allan said...

Bloomers - invented by Elizabeth Smith Miller but popularized by Amelia Bloomer in the early 1850s.

johngoldfine said...

Following Allan's train of thought: 'Mae West' was at one time synonynmous with a life jacket.

johngoldfine said...

Simonize

johngoldfine said...

Simony, Judas, quisling

allan said...

This list includes: cardigan, chauvinism, gerrymandering, leotard, luddite, lynch, martinet, masochism, pompadour, quisling, rubenesque, sadism, sideburns, tattersall, wellingtons.
(Full accuracy not guaranteed.)

Oh, I just thought of: sandwich.

johngoldfine said...

volt, ampere, curie

allan said...

Joe Posnanski coined the term "jeterate" - to praise someone for something which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise - but that may take some time before it enters public discourse. :>)

johngoldfine said...

Once you see that list Allan just put up, you slap your head: of course!

laura k said...

These are great! But Allan, you looked it up...! That's like using an anagram generator. We were supposed to think of them ourselves.

Sadism and Chauvinism are particularly great. (So to speak.)

Luddite is not an example, is it? Followers of Ludd were called Luddites. But I guess the term has a generic meaning now, anti-technology.

Spoonerism, I think so, yes.

Rubenesque, no. That's like Freudian or Orwellian. Rubens painted large, fleshy women.

Sandwich, awesome.

I have to look up Mrs. Grundy, I don't know what that is!

laura k said...

Volt is named after a person?? Wow.

What's a curie? I'll look that up with Grundy.

laura k said...

Malapropism, named for Mrs. Malaprop, a character in a play.

allan said...

More cheating:
Louis Braille
Anders Celsius
Rudolf Diesel
Gabriel Fahrenheit
Louis Pasteur
Earl of Sandwich
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Non-cheating:
Thomas Crapper (did not invent the flush toilet, but increased its popularity)
General Joe Hooker (may not be true)

laura k said...

It appears that lots of people use the expression Mrs. Grundy. Go figure.

But curie, I can't see that one, because it's not in common speech. But all are free to disagree.

laura k said...

Stop cheating!!!

Good ones, though. Pasteurize, braille, Farenheit.

laura k said...

I call bullshit on Hooker.

laura k said...

Once you see that list Allan just put up, you slap your head: of course!

I know! It seems so obvious after the fact. And so easy when you CHEAT.

laura k said...

Where is Amy? She would like this. We could also use David Heap, the linguist. Too bad you can't tag people on blogs the way you do on FB.

allan said...

I should have waited before looking them up, I suppose. Luckily, there are probably hundreds more.

allan said...

However, the word "crap" (as bodily waste) dates back to the Middle Ages. I love shit like that!

laura k said...

Yup, two of the older words still in use are shit and fuck. And neither were considered "bad" words until, I believe, the Victorian era.

laura k said...

Which has nothing to do with this list, of course, but is still very cool.

allan said...

Narcissus - Greek dude

Steve Brodie - as in to take a jump off a bridge

laura k said...

Narcissist, very good.

"Doing a Brodie" was a huge expression once. These days "doing a _____" or "pulling a _____" happens instantly. See also Eastwooding.

johngoldfine said...

If we're going to do Greek dudes, there's Atlas. Maybe Tantalus and Sisyphus. Hercules as in 'He's a regular Hercules.'

Is 'Achilles heel' a cheat or more along the lines of Ponzi scheme?

Joe Biden used 'malarkey' three times in his debate--and next day commentators said that apparently it's derived from a name.

johngoldfine said...

What about something like 'wrong way corrigan' to describe a person not happening to be the eponymous Corrigan?

laura k said...

There's kind of two subcategories here - actual people and fictional characters.

allan said...

Then there are the various words/expressions that are racist:

Paddy wagon
welching on a bet
being an Indian giver
gypping someone
jerry-rigging something

Bugs Bunny's "What a maroon!" may may also be a slur.

laura k said...

guillotine

laura k said...

Then there are the various words/expressions that are racist:

Yes, but you're in an entirely different category now.

Paddy wagon may have had a double meaning - the criminals AND the cops were both Irish.

And of course, don't forget "Jewing" someone on the price.

johngoldfine said...

St Bernard

;)

laura k said...

Achilles heel seems good, because it's not really a heel that's being described, it's a generic weak spot.

Why is Ponzi a cheat?

Lots of Greek dudes and dudettes in regular language.

laura k said...

St Bernard

;)


:>)

johngoldfine said...

"jerry-rigging something"

In the whitest state of the union, a place formerly with many 'Nigger Islands' and 'Squaw Mountains,' "nigger-rig" is still used in preference to jury-rig or jerry-rig.

johngoldfine said...

I thought it was a cheat because it's only used as an adjective to describe a 'scheme.' No one is ever described as a Ponzi....

laura k said...

In the whitest state of the union, a place formerly with many 'Nigger Islands' and 'Squaw Mountains,' "nigger-rig" is still used in preference to jury-rig or jerry-rig.

Ugh.

Is Maine whiter than Oregon? I've read that Oregon is 98% white. The 2% is Native American.

johngoldfine said...

I would eat a napoleon right now if one were available.

laura k said...

Going Dutch and Dutch treat, for the new category that this thread was not about

johngoldfine said...

I believe Maine is whiter....

laura k said...

In the UK, they will call a shot of alcohol "Dutch courage"

laura k said...

Ponzi scheme works for me because it's become a generic term for a financial con, unrelated to Mr. Ponzi. But YMMV.

johngoldfine said...

Teddy bear? Or is that origin story apocryphal?

laura k said...

The first boycott was extremely effective, btw. The family almost starved to death and had to leave the county. Makes me wonder why more of the servile class didn't try it.

laura k said...

Teddy bear? Or is that origin story apocryphal?

I wonder. I'm guessing it's not true, but if it is... yes.

johngoldfine said...

Stakhanovite. Kalishnikov.

johngoldfine said...

In Boston, if you get a long-term MBTA card, they are called 'Charlie cards' after the Charlie who never returned in the old Tom Lehrer song.

johngoldfine said...

"It's the Cadillac of____"

allan said...

I looked up what a Dutch Uncle was - Lots of expressions using "Dutch"

allan said...

"It's the Cadillac of____"

Ruthian.



laura k said...

Dutch: were enemy of Brits. Big surprise.

Stakhanovite. Kalishnikov.

Really? Those aren't the actual names of weaponry?

"Did he ever return, no he never returned..." I know the song and still didn't know that's why the cards were called Charlie cards.

laura k said...

Cadillac and Ruthian, both out of fashion, but both huge in their time.

johngoldfine said...

Kalishnikov developed the AK-47--and the terms are interchangeable.

Stakhanov was a mighty mighty man! To be a Stakhanovite was good!

laura k said...

To be a Stakhanovite was good!

But whoever said that in English?

johngoldfine said...

Mesmerize

laura k said...

Mesmerize

Now you're talking!

johngoldfine said...

Anyone writing about the grand Soviet experiment.

laura k said...

I know we always use Houdini in gamethreads for a pitcher who gets out of jams, but I don't know if it's used generically.

laura k said...

I'll take your word on that.

laura k said...

The Wikipedia page Allan linked to on expressions using "Dutch" includes "Dutch wife", meaning whore.

*sigh*

allan said...

Waldorf salad?

Jere said...

Announcers used to talk about hitters having "Tablerian" numbers, meaning they were good with the bases loaded. This was because mediocre hitter Pat Tabler had great numbers with the bases loaded. But a Google search shows a mere three results (that relate to this), and one of them is from ME commenting on a YouTube video. I have heard Sterling use the term as recently as this season. But it pretty much seems to be a secret at this point. I assumed in '89 it would catch on but I guess I was wrong. Or maybe when Al Gore wrote the Internet he left this out and nobody ever went back to add it in.

(I know this is in the Dickensian/Ruthian category but when else am I gonna bring it up? Also, I know Kafka-esque also doesn't fit, but you know somebody's gonna bring it up, might as well be me. Okay, back to trying to think of ones that actually count.)

Jere said...

Oh! What about ritzy??

laura k said...

Jere, I'm happy to provide you with a place to write about Tablerian.

I'm amazed at how big this category is! (The real one, not the Dickensian or Kafkaesque one.)

laura k said...

When I wrote that "not this" example at the end of the post, I had Orwellian, Dickensian, and Kafkaesque, but dropped Kafka.

laura k said...

What about ritzy??

Perfect!

laura k said...

Btw, one of my favourite word websites is World Wide Words, written by Michael Quinion.

johngoldfine said...

Potemkin village

johngoldfine said...

I think Houdini still means 'escape artist' generally.

laura k said...

And the generic meaning of Waldorf Salad is...?

Or maybe you were joking.

***

I still don't know about Houdini. Compare it to guillotine, sadism, or boycott. It doesn't have a meaning like that.

Not being very articulate at the moment, I know.

johngoldfine said...

plimsolls

johngoldfine said...

I agree about Houdini. I hear someone (not young) saying, 'He's a regular Houdini,' which is fine, but even that is fading, and the name never became a thing as with your examples.

johngoldfine said...

Mercerize, galvanize

johngoldfine said...

hansom cab

laura k said...

Right. I guess the distinction is the name comes to mean a noun or a verb (or in some cases an adjective, but not usually) completely separate from the person. If, when a person escaped from something, he houdined, and people forgot there ever was a Houdini, then it would fit.

laura k said...

I had to look up plimsoll. Now I'll have to look up mercerize. Damn you and your vocabulary, Goldfine. ;)

laura k said...

My mother used to use "Nancy Drew" and "Bobsey Twins" to mean various things, but I'm thinking that was highly local.

laura k said...

In Detroit, and maybe in other places, a hot dog is known as a Coney Island. Not sure this counts.

allan said...

Of course, the question is: Was Pat Tabler good with the bases loaded?

Well, first of all, he had a career 99 OPS+, so he was exactly average as a hitter.

And he hit .489/.505/.693 with the bases loaded! But it varied wildly year to year:

1988: 8 for 9, 2.040 OPS?!?!
1989: 1 for 11, .234 OPS!

Hard to look at that and say he had a skill with the bases loaded. ... Just like it's hard to listen to him and say he has any skill as an announcer.

James Redekop said...

Most SI units of measurement (other than basic length, volume, area, and weight) are names of people: newton, watt, joule, pascal, curie, volt, ampere, ohm, becquerel, kelvin, gauss, farad, tesla(and many others). The bel (as in decibel, 1/10th of a bel) is named for Alexander Graham Bell via Bell Labs.

Lots of inventions named after people: theremin, saxophone, sousaphone, zeppelin, zamboni, jacuzzi.

I don't think anyone mentioned August & July. There were more months named for Roman rulers, but only those two survive. Commodus renamed the months after his own twelve names: Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius, Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, Pius. That lasted until about a day after his assassination...

Some random others: casanova, shrapnel, scrooge, sapphism, fisking, lothario.

James Redekop said...

Some Scottish ones:
Macintosh (raincoat)
Macadam (road covering)
Tarmac (tar + macadam)

The English term "bobby" for a policeman comes from Sir Robert Peel.

Of course, there are several religious eponyms: Mennonite, Calvinist, Lutheran, Buddhist, etc.

laura k said...

Zamboni, that's a great one, also Jacuzzi.

IMO Buddhist, Calvinist, etc. don't qualify, for the same reason Luddite doesn't. There's no generic meaning - a follower of Buddha is a Buddhist, more or less.

laura k said...

A friend on FB also called these eponyms. I thought an eponym was, eg, Alzheimer's Disease, named for the person who discovered it - which is entirely different than the way the words, eg, boycott or guillotine have entered the vernacular.

James Redekop said...

They're all eponyms, it's just a matter of degree. "Alzheimer's Disease" is often just referred to as "Alzheimer's", or a "Frank J. Zamboni & Company Ice Resurfacer" becomes a "Zamboni" becomes "a zamboni".

deang said...

Off the top of my head:

lothario, tarmac (from tar+macadam)

Items of clothing and fabrics:

cardigan, mackintosh, chesterfield, levi’s, Doc Martens, Nehru jacket, Mao jacket, tattersall.

In common use only during specific eras:

Hooverville, Moonies, the Freddie (a briefly popular sixties dance named for the lead singer of Freddie and the Dreamers).

Lots of plant names are derived from people’s names, but only a few probably qualify as being in common use, like Bougainvillea.

And these don’t really qualify as common-use words either, but paleontologists have given animals ridiculous-sounding genus names like Brucemacfaddenia and Thomashuxleya that then become common-usage words among scientists.

johngoldfine said...

Did anyone mention 'santorum'? Or 'borking'?

johngoldfine said...

don juan, caspar milquetoast, frankenstein, jekyll & hyde, sherlock

laura k said...

Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde fit the next list we're going to do. :)

Macadam and lothario are popular.

Bougainvilla, a word I know and didn't know the origin at all.

laura k said...

Re eponyms and matters of degree, maybe what I'm getting at is the degree to which the word has become a common noun (as opposed to proper noun), divorced from its origins.

I think I said this earlier, but it's amazing how many examples there are.

laura k said...

Nehru jackets, I remember those :)

I gotta look up cardigan. I had no idea.

johngoldfine said...

Lord Cardigan and Lord Raglan and his sleeves belong together here, as in the Crimea....

johngoldfine said...

chesterfield--as in sofa or overcoat

laura k said...

Several people said lothario, but does quixotic qualify? The name of a fictional character turned adjective.

James Redekop said...

"Moonie" is topical: that shyster Sun Myung Moon just died a week or two ago.

"Eponym" is more general than what you're looking for. I don't know if there's a specific term for genericized eponyms. Maybe we should call those "Laura K Eponyms" and wait for the term to become genericized. :)

Oh, another good one: "algorithm", from "algorism", from "Algoritmi", the Latin form of the name Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

"Algebra" comes from the title of one of al-Khwarizmi's books, "Al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala".

If we include mythological figures' names, there's "atlas", "bacchanal", "mercurial", "venerial", "martial", "cereal", "jovial", "saturnine", "plutonic", etc. Not to mention "Tuesday", (for Tiw, the Norse equivalent of Mars) "Wednesday" (Wotan), "Thursday" (Thor), "Friday" (Fria), and "Saturday" (Saturn). Also "January" (Janus), "March" (Mars again), etc.


James Redekop said...

Lothario is not only from a fictional character, but that character is from a from a fictional story, The Impertinent Curiosity -- which is in Don Quixote.

laura k said...

Maybe we should call those "Laura K Eponyms" and wait for the term to become genericized. :)

LOL. laurakonyms.

Tons of English words derive from mythology. That's a good list.

Algorithm and Algebra: I had no idea. I mean seriously, if you're not putting us on, I had no idea.

johngoldfine said...

It's strange given USian love of sports that the only sports items in this list is 'Ruthian' and 'Tablerian' and both are more beloved of sportswriters than actually-spoken terms.

Why isn't a heartbreaker a 'shoeless'? Or a spacecase a 'Bill Lee'? Why isn't a hardcharger a 'Pete Rose'?

allan said...

Baltimore chop?

"They invented it, you know."

allan said...

Did anyone mention 'santorum'?

:>)

allan said...

"Algebra" comes from the title of one of al-Khwarizmi's books, "Al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala"

Maybe we should ask Lew Alcindor?

James Redekop said...

to bogart
a bruce & a shiela (from names, but not from any individuals' names)
a guy (from Guy Fawkes)
a dunce (from John Duns Scottus)
a romeo
a jeremiad
a vandyke


johngoldfine said...

That's a cheat, Allan! The city is named after the man, but the hit is named after the infield....

:)

laura k said...

Maybe we should ask Lew Alcindor?

He is one very smart man.

laura k said...

I thought of "bogart", but that doesn't make any sense.

Romeo - can't believe no one said that yet! Good one.

Guy is from Guy Fawkes and "penny for the guy"? Srsly?

laura k said...

Yup, the Online Etymology Dictionary and Word Detective agree: guy is from Guy Fawkes. Amazing. I thought it was related to the French name Guy (also related to Guido), but no.

James Redekop said...

I'm not putting you on. Al-Khwarismi is tremendously important to Western European history. The "Arabic" (actually Indian) numbers came to us through al-Khwarismi, as was the foundation of algebra (originally Greek & Indian techniques) and Ptolemy's works. The Spanish and Portugese terms for "numerical digit" come from his name as well: "guarismo" and "algarismo", respectively.

Al-Khwarismi is probably as important to the European Renaissance as anyone, and deserves to be as well known as Galileo, or at least Fibonacci.

Arabic is a great source of scientific terms, especially in astronomy and mathematics. Most scientific words which starts with "al-" (though not "all-") are Arab ("al-" means "the"):

Algorithm
Aljebra
Alchemy
Alkaline
Alcohol (ironic, eh?)
Aldebaran
Algol

James Redekop said...

Remember that Guy Fawkes signed his name "Guido"! :)

A quick look up at the Online Etymology Dictionary sez:

bogart (v.) 1969, "to keep a joint in your mouth," dangling from the lip like Humphrey Bogart's cigarette in the old movies, instead of passing it on. First attested in "Easy Rider."

laura k said...

Arab ("al-" means "the")

In Hebrew it's "el", closely related.

Alcohol (ironic, eh?)

Nice touch. :)

This is a good list for those times when someone like Margaret Wente goes on about the Christians and Anglos bringing civilization to the world.

johngoldfine said...

"Alkaline"

You can't fool me, James--that was named after the Detroit HOF outfielder.

laura k said...

I'm going offline for the night, but when I return tomorrow I'll expect 90% of all English words to be eponyms.

johngoldfine said...

If only the Anglos had been Christians, who knows what they might have brought to the world! But that not having been the case, we have what we have.

laura k said...

As attested to on another list, Humphrey Bogart was one of my first loves. I did think of bogart at the start of this thread, but thought, no way. :)

But of course I trust Etymology Online. I use that site all the time.

James Redekop said...

(Of course, I should have typed "Algebra", not "Aljebra", a couple of comments back... Had Arabic on the brain)

laura k said...

You can't fool me, James--that was named after the Detroit HOF outfielder.

groan

Remind me to tell you about my fear of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

allan said...

Most comments on a post?

allan said...

Nicotine - from Jean Nicot.

allan said...

Panic - from the Greek God Pan

Henry Shrapnel - Invented the anti-personel weapon in the 19th century (a hollow cannon ball filled with shot which burst in mid-air)

Booze - E.G. Booz, a man who sold whiskey in log cabin-shaped bottles

Samuel Maverick - a rancher who refused to brand his cattle despite the common practice at the time

John Duns Scotus -his middle name = idiot

Mary Frisbee

James Redekop said...

The Angles & Saxons were Christianized in the 7th century (about 200 years before al-Khwarizmi). Of course, what passed for "civilization" at the time would be considered "ongoing atrocities" these days, if we were feeling generous...

Jere said...

"1988: 8 for 9, 2.040 OPS?!?!
1989: 1 for 11, .234 OPS!

Hard to look at that and say he had a skill with the bases loaded"

But I think it was probably in the late-'88 and into early '89 zone where they took note and started saying it. My '89 comment before was just an estimate but it turns out according to those stats that that was right around the height of his bases-loaded prowess, before he dropped off. And as we know, if you get something in people's heads, they seem to always think that's how it is. Like how the early one-game implosion by the Red Sox bullpen led people to say how shitty they were, even months later, when they'd become one of the best pens in the league.

July and August--nice call there. I assumed the non-month word August counts then, but now I see that it came from augurs which comes from words that meant "increase."

Jere said...

"Panic - from the Greek God Pan"

This led me to think of pyrrhic, which I assumed was said in those 118 comments but I guess not! King Pyrrhus in the house. Kind of a pyrrhic victory for me to beat Goldfine to that one.

James Redekop said...

Mentor -- the tutor Odysseus left to teach his son Telemachus.

Calliope -- goddess of music and, apparently, steam-driven circus organs

Milli-helen -- the quantity of beauty necessary to launch a single ship

Phyrric victory -- named for the Greek general Pyrrhus, who beat the Romans in battle but took such heavy losses that "another such victory will destroy us"

Potemkin village -- for the Russian general, Grigory Potemkin

A Gordian knot -- named for the un-untiable knot of Gordium of Phrygia, which Alexander the Great "untied" by slicing with his sword

Socratic -- from Socrates

platonic -- from Plato

epicurean -- from Epicurus the Greek

I'm sure there are some good Hebrew eponyms other than "jeremiad" which could go in here...

Rube Goldberg machine -- named for the cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who also gave his name to the Ruben Award for comic strip artists.

laura k said...

Booze and Maverick - very nice! Great link there, too, click on it if you haven't already. A whole book of this b/s.

And by Christian Anglos, for all you nitpickers out there, I meant current British-derived societies, such as Wente and Kenney love, and people who think they gave birth to everything good and holy.

Phyrric in the house, twice.

laura k said...

The mythology-derived words seem to be in another category, maybe along with the fictional characters. I think I've got at least four separate eponym categories now.

Uh-oh, my librarianship is showing. Totally sorting everything.

laura k said...

From the review linked above:

Many words come from Greek roots, but the roots for "tantalize" run all the way to Greek myth about a misbehaving son of Zeus named Tantalus.

"Tantalus was punished by the gods," Marciano explains. "For all eternity, he had to stand in a river with fruit branches above him. And every time he reached up to take a bite of fruit, wind lifted the branch out of his hands, and whenever he tried to bend down to take a drink of water, the level of water went too low for him to drink."

Etienne de Silhouette was a French finance minister whose taxes "turned people into a shadow of themselves." Luigi Galvani was an Italian physicist who discovered that muscles can be forced to move when administered an electric shock. Jules Leotard was a French acrobat who invented the skintight one-piece athletic outfit.

Finding new eponyms can be addictive. But don't trust everything you read, says Marciano. There are plenty of phony eponyms floating around out there. Domenico De Comma wasn't actually killed by the Inquisition for attempting to punctuate the Bible. He never even existed in the first place.


NPR review of Anonyponymous: The Forgotten People Behind Everyday Words by John Bemelmans Marciano.

Jere said...

I've got a great one, because it's baseball-derived but it still should count in this list. Charley horse. Comes (supposedly) from 1800s baseball player Charlie Old Hoss Radbourne. And I definitely grew up using that term instead of "cramp." (I didn't know where it came from until a few years ago though.)

James Redekop said...

Terms like "Pyrrhic victory" and "Potemkin village" remind me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Darmok", in which Picard and an alien are trapped together. The alien's language consisted entirely of allusions to historical legends: "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra", "Temba, his arms wide", etc. Without the context, the universal translator could only provide the most basic translation. Picard eventually establishes communication with the alien using the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Jere said...

Victrola came from the Victor Talking Machine Company, and that company MAY have been named after the owner's partner's wife.

And there's Doubting Thomas.

laura k said...

I also grew up with charlie horse as opposed to muscle cramp or soreness. I wonder if the origin is true!

Yes, I said I was going offline for the night. And now I am.

allan said...

bedlam

Jere said...

A "Mickey Mouse" operation--comes from someone who is neither real nor a person. Will it count??? Will check back tomorrow for ruling.

Jere said...

Actually, if you DID do an animal spinoff list, maybe mammoth would be in there. Because unlike elephantine or apelike, it seems to be its own descriptive word that people don't associate with the actual animal it came from. (And I learned something: when they went to name what we now know as the wooly mammoth, they thought it burrowed in the dirt so they named it a word that means "earth." Which sounds ridiculous because where the hell else are you gonna find bones, in the sky? "This couldn't have been a bird, the bones are on the ground!")

Jere said...

Gat comes from Gatling Gun which was designed by Mr. Gatling.

johngoldfine said...

I'm sure the Angles were devout and sincere Christian converts; it's the Anglos I mingle with daily I have my doubts about.

Jere said...

Jacob's Ladder

Jere said...

Odyssey for the myth category. The dude himself was mentioned above but not his word.

laura k said...

OK, the Eponym Adjudicator has woken up and had a bit of caffeine.

Odyssey is very cool.

One I missed last night: nicotine! That's awesome.

Bedlam was not a person. It was a proper noun now used as a generic noun or adjective but was never a person.

Mammoth is not elephantine (or Kafkaesque), I agree. It's like if we called something big "elephant" or "orca". But it wasn't a person.

Mickey Mouse: "I'll allow it". It is a name, a proper noun, and it is used as a generic adjective.

laura k said...

Subcategories of eponyms derived from this list:

- Fictional characters
--- Mythological names
----- Biblical names

- Inventor/creator/discoverer, not genericized

laura k said...

In the fictional character category: Scrooge. Which brings up miser, named for King Midas.

James Redekop said...

Another category:

- Units of measurement (hertz, ohm, volt, ampere, etc) -- not quite the same thing as creator/discoverer, or maybe a subcategory.

Another fictional eponym: polyanna





James Redekop said...

An enormous category, and well worth ignoring for this thread: product names

Also another time-period-sensitive one: "Bushism"

Mythological: cupid, erotic, juggernaut, nemesis, hector, aphrodesiac
Biblical: jezebel, leviathan, goliath
Fictional: knickerbockers

And randomly: valentine, martinet,

Would "draconian" count? At first glance it's similar to Dickensian, but it's become so genericized that people don't think of it as "like what Draco of Athens did".

johngoldfine said...

People used to fletcherize their food.

johngoldfine said...

sanforize....

Dammit, Laura, I have work to do, but whenever I stop bearing down, I keep thinking about this list!

'Svengali' used to be a more or less common usage.

johngoldfine said...

How about a list of place names that have become attached to objects? Weiner, denim, arras, jersey, etc.

laura k said...

Svengali! Re-popularized by Seinfeld.

These last few by James and JG are inspired.

johngoldfine said...

Pfooey!

Still sticking with Sinclair Lewis, who had a way with phrases: 'It Can't Happen Here!'

johngoldfine said...

That last comment was meant for the new eponymous list, sorry....

And the pfooey was for your dismissal of 'Main Street.' I don't know if it was in use before Lewis as anything other than the name for the main stem, but Main St and Babbitt really do go together.

And since we're in the 20s--'Valentino' meant don juan, romeo, lothario, love hunk for a while there

James Redekop said...

I can't believe I forgot this one: an Einstein.

laura k said...

I think Einstein is like Sherlock and Houdini - not quite it, but borderline. You can call someone an Einstein or say "No shit, Sherlock", and everyone knows you mean, but we don't call detectives sherlocks or say someone houdini'd out of jail.

JG, I was wondering where those comments went, after I put them through. Feel free to post them in the next thread, too. In fact, please do?

Amy said...

Wow, I go away for the weekend and look what I missed! I am still wading through all the comments and wish I could think of at least one eponym that hasn't been mentioned. Let me see if I can come up with one without cheating (tsk, tsk, Allan, you had me bowled over until Laura outed you on cheating.)

Amy said...

What about all the car names---Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln? Do those count?

Wasn't the flush toilet invented by someone named Krapper? I see someone said crap dates back to the middle ages, but I always thought the Crapper referred to the inventor.

Then's there Tesla for something related to electricity (don't ask me what specifically).

laura k said...

Hi Amy! I gave up on trying to come up with any. I just wait for Goldfine, James, and Jere to post them. :)

It's amazing how many there are!

Amy said...

JohnG is amazing. I am surprised there aren't more baseball ones. Or other sports.

Amy said...

Castro convertible?

Kelvinator?

laura k said...

Crapper and his toilet are there, although he was not the inventor - and I don't count this because toilets are called toilets, or loos, or WCs, and crapper is named after crap, not that guy.

The car names are brand names. If lower-case-f ford was synonymous with cars, that would be different.

laura k said...

But isn't Castro a brand name?

And yes, John and James are amazing on this. Algebra!!

Amy said...

OK, I guess I am thinking too much of brand names. Must be the trademark side of my brain. I know lots of trademarks have become generic terms---escalator, refrigerator, aspirin---but they are not eponyms. My brain has collapsed the two concepts.

Amy said...

Yeah, I give up. Anything that pops into my head is either already here or a brand name. And most of the ones here I did not know were eponyms.

laura k said...

I once did a post (although not a list post) about brand names that have gone generic. I was surprised at how many there were. But eponyms are different - although some genericized brand names must be eponyms, too.

Tomorrow when you're not thinking of it, a whole bunch of good ones will pop into your mind.

Or one good one, anyway. :)

Hope you had a nice weekend away. We are off to NY/NJ tomorrow.

Amy said...

Everything ok? Was this a planned trip? We just returned from the city---had a wedding there, plus a wonderful trip to Brooklyn to visit the kids. (Hence, my long silence.)

laura k said...

Oh yes, thanks, long planned. It's in lieu of Thanksgiving.

I had a feeling you were in Brooklyn. Nice. :)

johngoldfine said...

chauvinism

laura k said...

Chauvinism is already on this list, but I guess it belongs on the 2nd list, too.

We should transfer over all the relevant words. Says the compulsive organizer. A/k/a librarian.