An eponym is a word that derives from, or that is believed to derive from, the name of a real or ficticious person.

Eponym comes from the Ancient Greek ἐπώνυμος (epṓnumos), from ἐπί (epí, – upon) & ὄνυμα (ónuma – name).

Examples of eponyms include:

  • Boycott, from Charles Boycott, an English land agent based in Ireland in the 19th century.
  • Caesarean section, Tsar, Czar and Kaiser from Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman consul and general in the first century BC.
  • Europe, and variants, from Εὐρώπη (Eurṓpē), the mother of King Minos of Crete in Greek mythology.
  • Dunce, from John Duns Scotus (c 1265-1308), a philospher whose work was admired at first, but was later attacked and ridiculed. His followers were known as Dunsmen or Dunses, and the word dunce eventually became associated with lack of learning or opposition to new thinking. By the 1580s, a dunce was a dim witted person [source].
  • Leotard, from Jules Leotard, a French acrobat and trapeze artist in the 1800s

Many more examples of eponyms.

If your name was to become an eponym, what would you like to be remembered for? And what form would you like it to take?

One thought on “Eponyms

  1. I studied physics, and the students used to joke that the great physicists after whom units of measurement are named must be turning in their graves a lot because of generations of physics students cursing their names.

    The origin of “Caesarian section” is not actually clear.

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