Speaking Of Eponyms
My first introduction to the concept of eponyms was in high school. My English teacher talked about the ‘eponymous heroine’, meaning the protagonist after whom the book was named. Examples include Jane Eyre and Silas Marner.
An eponym is a word that is formed from the name of a person. A famous example is the word sandwich, named after the Earl of Sandwich, but there are hundreds more. We seem to like this type of word association and eponyms crop up in all fields. Here are some examples:
- Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics
- The Dilbert Principle: the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.
- Faraday’s law of electrolysis
- Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
- Newton’s laws of motion
Many generic words were once trademarks, including:
- Jungle Gym
- Saran Wrap
- Shredded Wheat
There are also several trademarks still in use that are also used generically, including:
- Alka Seltzer
- Band Aid
- algorithm, from Al-Khwarizm, a mathematician
- Celsius, named after Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius
- derringer, from gunsmith Henry Derringer
- Granny Smith apples, from an Australian apple breeder
- leotard, from trapeze artist Jules Leotard
- Henry Laurence Gantt gave us the Gantt chart
- Gerard Kuiper gives his name to the Kuiper Belt
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