Eponyms everywhere! Who knew?
Our most recent list of eponyms was a smash success. It gave rise to at least three subcategories, as I wrote here:
- Inventor/creator/discoverer, not genericized. These are eponyms, but have not entered the vocabulary as a separate noun or descriptor. Example: Alzheimer's. Compare to pasteurized.
- Fictional characters
--- Mythological names
----- Biblical names
This list is more specific, and more difficult. Allan and I have done this one before, and even with help from a well-read listserv, came up with only a handful. (Idea for new reality show: Are you smarter than Wallace-L?)
When Joseph Heller died, I marveled at how his creation has entered our vocabulary as such a widely recognized generic expression. The often-misused phrase "catch-22" was long ago separated from its origins. I'm sure many people use it who have never heard of Heller's book. I wondered if there were any other examples.
Using a very strict criteria, we came up with very few:
Here are the rules. Fiction only. Can be a title or a character. The author must be a known person whose identity is not in dispute. That means no myths, including bible stories, but of course Shakespeare can be used. The word must be recognizable as a generic term, enough that you'd see it used in a mainstream newspaper story.
Thanks to last night's thread, I'll add one that the Wallace list missed:
Got any others? You can use our last list, but other than that, no cheating, please.
Post a Comment