A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, Page 16

Last revision: May 3, 2014


SOME NAMES OF PEOPLE THAT BECAME WORDS

This list consists of widely-used words which are derived from names of people, but are not obviously so. Stuart Kidd, Charles Turner, Philip Bennett, and James Landau contributed to this section.

WORDNAMED FOR
ABELIAClark Abel (1780-1826), British botanist
ADAMSITERoger Adams (1889-1971), American chemist
ALDRINKurt Alder (1902-1958), American chemist
ALEXANDRINEAlexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), King of Macedonia
ALEXANDRITEAlexander I of Russia (1777-1825)
ALGORITHMal-Khowarizmi (c800 - c850), Arab mathematician
AMISHprobably for Jakob Amman, 17th century Swiss Mennonite bishop
AUGUSTAugustus Caesar (63 B.C. - A. D. 14)
AXELAxel Paulsen (1856-1938), Norwegian figure skater
BACITRACINMargaret Tracy (ca. 1936- ), child in whose tissues it was found
BAKELITELeo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944), Belgian-born American chemist
BAUDJ. M. E. Baudot (1845-1903), French inventor
BÉCHAMEL SAUCEMarquis Louis de Béchamel (d.1703), steward of Louis XIV of France
BEEF STROGANOFFCount Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganoff (1772-1817), Russian diplomat
BEGONIAMichel Bégon (1638-1710), French patron of botany
BIROJózsef László Bíró (1899-1985), Hungarian inventor
BLOODY MARYMary I Tudor (1516-1558), English queen (probably)
BLOOMERAmanda Bloomer or Amelia Jenkins Bloomer (1818-1894), American feminist
BLUETOOTHHarald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, a King of Denmark and Norway
BOBBYSir Robert Peel (1788-1850), founder of London police force
BOUGAINVILLEALouis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French explorer
BOWDLERIZEThomas Bowdler (1754-1825), British doctor
BOWIE KNIFEJames Bowie (1796-1836), American pioneer
BOYCOTTCharles C. Boycott (1832-1897), English land agent
BOYSENBERRYRudolph Boysen, American botanist
BRAILLELouis Braille (1809-1852), French teacher, writer and musician
BROMELIADOlaf Bromelius (1639-1705), Swedish botanist
BROUGHAMLord Henry Peter Brougham (1778-1868), British statesman
BUDDLEIAAdam Buddle (c.1660-1715), English rector and botanist
BUHLWORKA. C. Boule (1642-1732), French cabinet maker
BUNKUM, BUNKCol. Edward Buncombe, Revolutionary War hero (see note)
BUNSEN BURNERRobert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-99), German chemist
BURKEWilliam Burke, hanged in 1829
CAESAREAN SECTIONGaius Julius Caesar, who according to legend was born in this manner (c. 101 - 44 B. C.)
CAESAR SALADCesar Cardini (1896-1956), Tijuana, Mexico restaurateur
CAMELLIAGeorge Josef Kamel (1661-1706), Moravian Jesuit missionary
CARDIGANJames Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868), British cavalry officer
CASANOVAGiovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt (1725-98), Italian adventurer
CATHERINE WHEELSt. Catherine of Alexandria (d. ca. 307), Christian martyr
CHATEAUBRIANDVicomte Francois Rene De Chateaubriand (1768-1848), French novelist
CHESTERFIELD (overcoat)Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (16941773), Eng. statesman & author
CLERIHEWEdmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), English writer
CZARGaius Julius Caesar (c. 101 BC - AD 44)
DAHLIAAnders Dahl (1751-1789), Swedish botanist
DAVENPORT (sofa)Alfred Henry Davenport (1845-1905), American businessman
DECIBELAlexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
DERBYEdward Stanley, 12th earl of Derby, founded the race, 1870
DERRICKGoodman Derick, a well-known Tyburn hangman, circa 1600
DERRINGERHenry Deringer (1786-1868), American gunsmith
DIESELRudolf Diesel (1858-1913), German automotive designer
DOBERMAN PINSCHERLudwig Dobermann, 19th century German dog breeder
DOILYMr. Doyley, a 17th century London draper
DOLOMITEDeodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801), French geologist
DOM PERIGNONDom Petrus Pérignon (1638-1715), French Benedictine monk
DRACONIANDraco, Athenian lawgiver, circa 650 B. C.
DUNCEJohn Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1308), Scottish theologian (who was actually very smart)
EGGS BENEDICTCommodore E. C. Benedict (1834-1920), American yachtsman and banker
EPICUREEpicurus (342?-270 B. C.), Greek philosopher
EUSTACHIAN TUBEBartolommeo Eustachio (1524-1574), Italian anatomist
FALLOPIAN TUBEGabriel Fallopius (1523-1562), Italian anatomist
FERRIS WHEELGeorge Washington Gale Ferris (1859-96), American engineer
FILBERTSaint Philibert (d. 684), Frankish abbot whose feast day marks the ripening season of the nuts
FORSYTHIAWilliam Forsyth (1737-1804), British botanist
FRANGIPANIMarquis Frangipani, 16th century Italian nobleman
FREESIAFriedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (d. 1876), German physician
FRISBEEWilliam Russell Frisbie, pie shop owner in Bridgeport CT
FUCHSIALeonard Fuchs (1501-1566), German botanist
GALVANIZELuigi Galvani (1739-1798), Italian physiologist
GARDENIAAlexander Garden (1730-91), Scottish-American botanist
GARIBALDIGiuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), Italian patriot and soldier
GATLING GUNRichard J. Gatling (1818-1903), American inventor
GEIGER COUNTERHans Geiger (1882-1945), German physicist
GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKESam German, American chocolate maker
GERRYMANDERElbridge Gerry (1744-1814), Governor of Massachusetts (he pronounced the g as in gray)
GLADSTONE BAGWilliam Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), British statesman and prime minister
GRAHAM CRACKERSylvester Graham (1794-1851), American dietetic reformer
GREENGAGESir William Gage (1777-1864), English botanist
GROGOld Grog, nickname of Sir Edward Vernon (1684-1757), British admiral
GUILLOTINEJoseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814), French physician
GUPPYRobert J. L. Guppy (1836-1916), British scientist from Trinidad
GUYGuy Fawkes (1570-1606), British terrorist
HANSOMJoseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-82), English architect
HAVELOCKSir Henry Havelock (1795-1857), British general in India
HOBSON’S CHOICEThomas Hobson (1544-1631), English liveryman
HOOLIGANprobably Patrick Hooligan
JACQUARDJoseph Marie Jacquard, 18th cent. French inventor
JACUZZIRoy Jacuzzi and Candido Jacuzzi (1903-1986), American inventors
JEREMIADJeremiah, Old Testament prophet
JEROBOAMJeroboam, first king of the northern kingdom of Israel
JULYGaius Julius Caesar (c. 101 - 44 B. C.)
K RATIONAncel Keys, American biologist and Defense Dept. researcher
KAISERGaius Julius Caesar (c. 101 - 44 B. C.)
KLIEG LIGHTJohn H. (1869-1959) and Anton T. Kleigl (1872-1927), American lighting experts
KNICKERBOCKERSDietrich Knickerbocker, pseudonym of Washington Irving (1783-1859), American author
LEOTARDJules Léotard (1839-70), French acrobat
LEVISLevi Strauss (1830-1902), Bavarian immigrant to the USA and clothing merchant
LISTERINEJoseph Lister (1827-1912), pioneer in antiseptic surgery
LOBELIAMatthias de Lobel (1538-1616), Flemish botanist and physician
LOBSTER NEWBURGBen Wenberg (see note below)
LOGANBERRYJudge James H. Logan (1841-1928), horticulturist in California
LUDDITENed Ludd, 18th cent. Leicestershire workman who destroyed machinery (see note below)
LYNCHCapt. William Lynch (1742-1820), plantation owner in Virginia
MACADAMIA NUTJohn Macadam (1827-1865), Australian scientist
MACADAMIZE
and MACADAM
John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), Scottish engineer
MACHErnst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist
MACKINTOSHCharles Macintosh (1766-1843), inventor of the waterproofing process
MAGNOLIAPierre Magnol (1638-1715), French botanist
MANSARDFrançois Mansart (1598-1666), French architect
MARIGOLDVirgin Mary, mother of Jesus
MARTINETCol. Jean Martinet, 17th century French drillmaster
MASOCHISMLeopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), Austrian novelist
MASONITEWilliam H. Mason, American inventor
MAUDLINMary Magdalene, Biblical figure
MAUSOLEUMMausolus, 4th century B. C. king of Caria, Asia Minor
MAVERICKSamuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner
MELBA TOAST
and PEACH MELBA
Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), Australian soprano
MENNONITEMenno Simons (1492-1559), Dutch religious reformer
MESMERIZEFranz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Austrian physician
MICKEY FINNMichael Finnish, American saloon keeper who allegedly drugged his customers (see note)
MORSE CODESamuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), American artist and inventor
NACHOIgnacio Anaya (?-1975), Mexican Maitre d' (see this article)
NAMBY-PAMBYNickname of Ambrose Philips (1674-1749), English poet
NICOTINEJean Nicot (c. 1530 - 1600), French ambassador to Portugal
ORRERYCharles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), for whom one was made
OSCAROscar Pierce, American wheat and fruit grower and uncle of an Academy executive director
PAP SMEARGeorge Papanicolaou (1883-1962), American physician
PASTEURIZELouis Pasteur (1822-1895), French chemist
PAVLOVAAnna Pavlova (1881-1931), Russian ballerina
PETER PRINCIPLELaurence J. Peter (1919-1990), American (Canadian-born) educator
PLATONICPlato (c. 427-347 BC), Greek philosopher
POINSETTIAJoel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), U. S. minister to Mexico
POMPADOURJeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise De Pompadour (1721-1764), French aristocrat
PRALINE César de Choiseul, Count Plessis-Praslin (1598-1675), French soldier and diplomat
PULLMANGeorge Mortimer Pullman (1831-97), American inventor
PYRRHICPyrrus (c. 318 - 272 B. C.), king of Epirus
QUISLINGMaj. Vidkun Abraham Quisling (1887-1945), pro-Nazi Norwegian leader
RAFFLESIASir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (1781-1826), British colonial administrator in Indonesia
RAGLANFitzroy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan (1788-1855), British field marshall
RASTAFARIANRas Tafari, precoronation name of Haile Selassie (1892-1975), Emperor of Ethiopia
RICKETTSIAHoward T. Ricketts (1871-1910), American pathologist
ROB ROYRobert McGregor (1671-1734), Scottish outlaw
RORSCHACH TESTHermann Rorschach (1884-1922), Swiss psychiatrist
RITZYCésar Ritz (1850-1918), Swiss hotelier
SADISMMarquis Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814), French soldier and novelist
SALISBURY STEAKJames J. Salisbury, 19th century English physician
SALMONELLADaniel Elmer Salmon (1850-1914), American veterinarian
SANDWICHJohn Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-92), English diplomat
SANFORIZEDSandford Lockwood Cluett (b. 1840), American inventor
SAXHORNAntoine-Joseph Sax, also known as Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), Belgian inventor
SAXOPHONEAntoine-Joseph Sax, also known as Adolphe Sax (1814-1894), Belgian inventor
SEQUOIASequoya (c. 1770-1843), Cherokee Indian who invented the Cherokee syllabary
SHRAPNELHenry Shrapnel (1761-1842), British army officer
SIDEBURNSGen. Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), Union soldier
SILHOUETTEEtienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French minister of finance in 1759
SIMONYSimon Magus, 1st cent. astrologer from Samaria: Acts 8:18-19
SPOONERISMRev. William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), of New College, Oxford
SOUSAPHONEJohn Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), American composer and bandleader
STETSONJohn Bauerson Stetson (1830-1906), American hat-maker
TARMACJohn Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), Scottish engineer (the word is short for "tarmacadam")
TATTERSALLRichard Tattersall (1724-1795), British auctioneer
TAWDRYSt. Audrey (St. Etheldreda, c. 630 - 679), queen of Northumbria
TEDDY BEARTheodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U. S. president
TEDDY BOYKing Edward VII of Great Britain (1841-1910)
TETRAZZINILuisa Tetrazzini (1874-1940), Italian opera singer
THEREMINLev Theremin (1896-1993), Russian engineer
THESPIANThespis, 6th century B. C. Greek poet
TIMOTHY GRASSTimothy Hanson, 18th century American farmer (probably)
TOMMY GUNGen. John Taliaferro Thompson (1860-1940), U. S. soldier
TONTINELorenzo Tonti (1620-1695), Neopolitan banker
TONY (award)Mary Antoinette Perry (18881946) American actress, director, and producer
TUPPERWAREEarl Silas Tupper (1907-1983), American landscaper and inventor
UZIUziel Gal (1923-2002), Israeli inventor
VALENTINEValentine, 3rd century Christian martyr
VERNIERPierre Vernier (1580-1637), French mathematician
WELLINGTON BOOTArthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), British soldier and statesman
WISTERIACaspar Wistar (1761-1818), American physician
ZEPPELINCount Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), German general and aeronautical pioneer
ZINNIAJohann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759), German botanist

Bunkum, bunk. This word actually comes from the name of Buncombe County, North Carolina; the county was named in honor of Col. Edward Buncombe, a Revolutionary War hero. The word originated after the congressman from that county defended an irrelevant speech in Congress by claiming that he was speaking to Buncombe.

Chicken à la king is said to be named for E. Clark King, proprietor of a New York hotel.

Mickey Finn. According to MWCD11, the term is "probably from Mickey (Michael) Finnish fl1903, American saloon keeper who allegedly drugged his customers."

The OED On-Line entry includes the following:

< the name of ‘Mickey’ Finn, a Chicago saloon-keeper of the late 19th and early 20th cent. who was alleged to have drugged and robbed his customers: see J. E. Lighter Hist. Dict. Amer. Slang (1997) II. 549 and the following:

1903 Chicago Daily News 16 Dec. 1/7: The complete defense advanced by ‘Mickey’ Finn, proprietor of the Lone Star saloon ... described ... as the scene of blood-curdling crimes through the agency of drugged liquor.

1903 Inter-Ocean (Chicago) 17 Dec. 1 (heading), Lone Star Saloon loses its license. ‘Mickey’ Finn's alleged ‘knock-out drops’ ... put him out of business.

Lobster Newburg. According to Dictionary of Words and Phrases by William and Mary Morris, the term is named for Ben Wenberg, a West Indies ship captain who came up with this dish by adding the ingredient cayenne to his famous recipe at Delmonico's Hotel. As the story goes, Mr. Wenberg had a falling out with the hotel owner, who, as revenge, reversed the first three letters of a dish which had previously been called Lobster Wenberg; hence, "Lobster Newberg." [Jim Lizzi]

Hooker. It seems to be widely believed that the term hooker is derived from the name of Civil War General Joseph Hooker. However, dictionaries indicate that the word has the same derivation as hooker in the sense of "one that hooks," and in fact the OED2 shows a use of the term in 1845 in N. E. Eliason, Tarheel Talk: "If he comes by way of Norfolk he will find any number of pretty Hookers in the Brick row not far from French's hotel."

Cobb salad is probably named for Robert H. Cobb, American restaurateur, according to MWCD11.

Crapper. This word is widely believed to have come from the name of a Thomas Crapper. However, the word apparently derives from the word crap, which is found in middle English.

Condom. It is said that the device was invented by a Dr. Condom. However, most dictionaries have "origin unknown." The OED2 has: "Origin unknown; no 18th-cent. physician named Condom or Conton has been traced though a doctor so named is often said to be the inventor of the sheath."

Luddite. MWCD10 has "perhaps" on the origin of this word in the above table.

Rafflesia. Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles said that that the world's largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, named after him, "has blooms a yard wide, weighs as much as twenty-four pounds, and has a memorably horrible smell." Sir Thomas Raffles has at least two plants named for him, as Nepenthes rafflesiana is one of the largest species of carnivorous plants. This pitcher plant from Borneo thrives on the flesh of a variety of invertebrates and the occasional mouse or frog whose skeletons have been found in the pitchers digestive fluid. According to Guinness, rats and birds have also been consumed by the Nepenthes rafflesiana pitcher plant.


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