Fun_People Archive
25 Oct

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 94 16:10:05 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: Eponyms

Just in case you didn't already know, Webster (Merriam Webster's 9th New
Collegiate) defines:
  ep·onym n
  1: the person for whom something is or is believed to be named
  2: a name (as of a drug or a disease) based on or derived from
     an eponym

    But by far the most frequent use of this term lately has been in the
adjective form, "eponymous," used unfailingly to describe a record, tape, or CD
titled with the artist's name - hardly an eponym (even though it does appear to
fit the dictionary definition).
    Here are (real) eponyms forwarded by Henry Cate <>, some
from Vol 2 of "The Mathematical Intelligencer" (with etymologies from the
American Heritage dictionary) and some from the book "O Thou Improper, Thou
Uncommon Noun" by Willard R. Espy (pub. by Potter).

BOYCOTT:  In 1880, Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott was land agent
    in County Mayo, Ireland, for an absentee owner, the Earl of Erne.
    Though the harvest had been disastrous, Captain Boycott refused to
    reduce rents and attempted to evict any tenants who could not pay
    in full. As a result, he became the object of the earliest known
    effort to force an alteration of policy by concerted nonintercourse.
    His servants departed en masse. No one would sell him food. Life
    became so miserable for him that at last he gave up and returned to
    England. To boycott is "to combine in abstaining from, or preventing
    dealings with, as a means of intimidation or coercion."

CARDIGAN:  After James Thomas Brudenell, Seventh Earl of Cardigan.

CHARLATAN:  Though villainy is as ancient as man, one particular form
    of it was named only in the 14th century, when the sharp trading of
    men from Cerreto, a village about ninety miles north of Rome, made
    them notorious and their motives suspect. Under the influence of
    Italian ciarlare, "to chatter," a Cerretano became a ciarlatano,
    and, in English, a charlatan, "one who pretends to unheld knowledge
    or ability."

CHAUVINISM:  After Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier excessively devoted to
    Napoleon; meaning blind allegiance.  I think the word has been
    changed recently, since male chauvinist appears to refer to a person
    expecting to receive blind allegiance rather than one giving it.

DERRICK:  Goodman Derrick, another Tyburn hangman, was as adept with
    the axe as with the noose; he cut off the head of the Earl of Essex
    in 1601. But it was his adeptness at gibbeting that won him
    vernacular immortality. Any hoisting apparatus employing a tackle
    rigged at the end of a spar is a derrick.

DUKES:  The Duke of Wellington's nose compared in magnitude with those
    of Cyrano de Bergerac and Schnozzola Durante. His troops called him
    "Nosey." Cockneys began to call noses dukes in his honor. Fists, by
    extension, were duke-busters. Duke-buster shrank back to duke, but
    retained the meaning "fist." When you are ordered to put up your
    dukes, you are being challenged to fisticuffs.

FUDGE:  Isaac D'Israeli, father of the 19th-century British prime
    minister, found in a 17th-century pamphlet a curious origin of the
    word fudge, meaning "Nonsense! Humbug!" He quotes: "There was in
    our time one Captain Fudge, commander of a merchantman [the Black
    Eagle], who upon his return from a voyage, how ill fraught soever
    his ship was, always brought home to his owners a good crop of lies;
    so much that now, aboard ship, the sailors when they hear a great
    lie told, cry out, 'You fudge it.'"

GAT:  A contraction of gatling gun, the name of the first machine gun,
    invented by R. G. Gatling.  Not to be confused with "Tommy guns"
    which are the Thompson submachine guns.  A gat has come be a a
    generic term for any portable firearm.

GIBBERISH:  Being "rapid, inarticulate, foolish talk," it probably
    corrupts the imitative "jabber."  But Dr. Samuel Johnson, king of
    lexicographers (though occasionally he nodded on his throne: once
    he called an attic attic the highest room of a house, and the
    cockloft the room over the attic), attributed gibberish to Geber,
    the name of a legendary Arabian alchemist.

GRANGERIZE: To grangerize is to illustrate text with pictures taken from
    other books or publications, from Jame Granger, an Anglican divine
    who in 1769 published a "Biographical History of England", leaving
    spaces in the text where illustrations filched from other texts
    could be inserted.

GUILLOTINE:  The inventor, a French physician, J. I. Guillotin, thought
    his invention was a great humanitarian contribution: a speedier and
    more efficient method than the drawn-out tortures which had been
    used previously for administering the death penalty.

GUY:  This term actually derives from Guy Fawkes and the British festival,
    Guy Fawkes' Day.

MONKEY WRENCH:  A monkey wrench is a wrench with a fixed jaw and an
    adjustable jaw set at right angles to the handle. Tradition says it
    was first devised by a London blacksmith named Charles Moncke,
    Moncke changing to monkey by folk derivation. A difficulty with this
    theory, as Mencken has pointed out, is that the British call a
    monkey wrench a spanner. In 1932-33, the Boston Transcript traced
    the invention to 1856, crediting it to a Yankee named Monk, employed
    by the firm of Bemis and Call in Springfield, Massachusetts.

QUISLING:  After Vikdun Quisling, the Norwegian Prime Minister who
    invited the Germans to occupy his country at the start of World War II.

SANDWICH:  After Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92), for whom sandwiches
    were made so that he could stay at the gambling table without
    interruptions for meals.

SHRAPNEL:  Invented by General Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), British
    artillery officer.

SILHOUETTE:  After Etienne de Silhouette (1709-67) with reference to
    his evanescent career (March-November 1759) as French

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []