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Wordcraft Eponyms

578 entries

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GREEN:  items added April 18, 2004


Abigail, a character in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady" (mid-1600s)

a lady's maid


Abishag, young woman brought to King David, trying to "revive" him in old age. I Kings 1-2

a child of a woman by a man married to another [a very rare word, not in OED]

academy; academic

choose your source: Plato's "academy" was owned by Akademus, or was named for legendary Akadamos, who told where the abducted Helen of Troy been hidden.


Achilles' heel

Achilles, Gk hero in the Iliad

a seemingly small but actually crucial weakness


Adam, in the Bible

going naked (like Adam) for God


Adonis, a strikingly beautiful youth loved by Aphrodite in Gk myth

a very handsome young man

alfonsin; alphonsin

Alfonse Ferri, a surgeon of Naples, who invented it (1552)

a surgical instrument for extracting bullets from wounds


al-Khwarizmi, Arab mathemetician died ~850

use of the Arabic number system (rather than, say, Roman numerals)


al-Khwarizmi, Arab mathemetician died ~850. His name gave us "algorism" (see above), which led to "algorithm"


alice blue

Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884–1980), daughter of US Pres. Theodore Roosevelt

a pale grayish-blue color

Alice in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

illusory; unreal

Alphonse and Gaston

Alphonse and Gaston, comic strip characters created by Frederic Burr Opper (1905)

two people who treat each other with excessive, often self-defeating deference

Alzheimer's disease

Alois Alzheimer, Ger neurologist 1864–1915



Amazons, a tribe of warrior women in classical legend

a tall, aggressive, strong-willed woman


Mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller accepted Amerigo Ves­pucci's (1454–1512) claim to have discovered the New World



Nymph Amethyst, when pursued by the god of wine, was changed into this gem to protect her

[gem was believed to prevent drunken­ness; the name means "not intoxicating'']


from sal ammoniac, which in turn are salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya



King Amphitryon in Greek myth. Became eponym from Moliere's line, "Le veritable Amphitryon est l'Amphitryon ou l'on dine."

a generous entertainer; a good host


Anacreon, Gk poet noted praising love and wine (563?–478? BC)

erotic; convivial; such a song or poem


Ananias, early Christian struck dead for lying (Acts 4-5)

a liar

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley, Amer sharpshooter (1860–1926), star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

a free ticket or pass (compares a punched ticket with target full of bullet holse)


Gk Antaeus, a mythical giant whom Hercules overcame

mammoth, or of superhuman strength


Aphrodite, Gk goddess of love and beauty



Apicius (Apicianus), a notorious Roman gourmand

epicurean; peculiarly dainty in food


Apollo, Gk god

harmonious, measured, restrained


the month of Venus, Roman version of Gk Aphrodite (perh. through Etruscan version Apru)



Argos, a hundred-eyed monster of Gk legend

a watchful guardian

(Argus-eyed = vigilantly observant)


Argyle, branch of the Scottish clan of Campbell



Aristarchus of Samothrace, Greek scholar and critic, ~200 BC

a severe critic (adj.: aristarchian)


ultimately from Gk meaning the "temple of Athena"

a place with print materials to read; or, an institution to promote learning (e.g. a literary or science club, or a library)


Atlas, titan in Gk mythology



Augeas, legendary Gk king who did not clean his stable for thirty years; Hecules took on the job

utterly filthy from long neglect; requiring heroic efforts of cleaning


named by Augustus Caesar for himself; in this month occurred many fortunate events of his career



Aurora, Roman goddess of dawn



Axel Paulsen, Norwegian figure skater (1856–1938)

a kind of jump in figure skating


George Babbitt, character in the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt (1922)

a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards

babbitt metal

Isaac Babbitt, Am inventor died 1862

alloy used for lining bearings


Bacchus, Roman god of wine

a drunken feast; an orgy


Karl Baedeker (1801–1859), Ger publisher who established a series of guidebooks in 1829

a guidebook to countries or a country


Leo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944), Amer, its inventor

tradename of an early, successful plastic

balmy; barmy (crazy)

most say from 'barm' (beer foam).  But Ciardi convincingly traces it to St. Bartholomew's ward for the non-violent insane at the hospital noted under 'bedlam'. 'Bartholomew' contracted to 'barmy'.



William Banting (1797-1878), Eng, authored Letter on Corulence (1869)

to diet, esp. a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet

Barmecide; Barmecide feast

Barmecide, a wealthy Persian in The Arabian Nights, who invited a beggar to a feast of imaginary food

providing only the illusion of abundance


P. T. Barnum, US showman who popularized the circus (1810–1891) [not yet in dictionaries]

to advertise or promote by exaggerated claims and hyperbole


arguably from Federigo Barocci (~1530-1612), Ital artist


Bartlett pear

Enoch Bartlett, Am (1779–1860), who developed and popularized it



prob. from "bats in the belfry", but some sources say it is an eponym from Fitzherbert Batty, a prominent but eccentric Eng barrister in Jamaica who was certified as insane in 1839


beau brummell

George Bryan ("Beau") Brummell, Englishman (1778 - 1840)

a dandy; a fop

béchamel sauce

Louis de Béchamel (1603-1703), steward of Louis XIV of Fr



asylum for the insane at London's Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, which popular speech shortened to "bedlam"



Michel Bégon, Fr governor of Haiti (1638–1710)

a flower common in gardening


scarf which Jim (Jem?) Belcher (1781–1822), champion Brit. boxer, regularly wore, knotted suavely about the neck

a small blue scarf with white dots


Benedick, character in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

a former newly married man who was previously a confirmed bachelor

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold, traitorous Am Revolutionary general (1741–1801)

a traitor (I do not find this in dictionaries as a word, but it is common in the press.)

Big Bertha

Bertha Krupp, daughter of Ger arms maker Alfred Krupp (husband Gustav changed his surname to Krupp). Originally 'Fat Bertha'.

a huge "mobile" long-range Ger gun in WWI. Now used as a name for a golf club.


László Biró, Hungarian, its inventor

ball point pen (trademark?)

bishop (verb)

"From the name of the scoundrel who first practiced it"

to file down a horse's teeth to hide its age

black maria

some suggest Maria Lee, black Boston woman ~1825, who helped to round those who occupied of the wagon

a patrol wagon to round up criminals and drunks

bloody mary

Queen Mary I (1553–1558) whose persecution of Protestants earned her the nickname "Bloody Mary"

a cocktail made with vodka and spicy tomato juice


Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Am activist and feminist (1818–1894), popularized such clothes



Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, (1742–1819) Prussian field marshal, defeated Napoléon at Laon, aided in victory at Waterloo

a type of high shoe or half boot


Bluebeard, a fairy-tale character

man who repeately marries and kills wives


Eng botanist Benj. Stillingfleet, too poor for proper dress, lectured to a club of liter­ate English ladies wearing blue worsted stockings (not black silk). Detractors called him Blue Stockings and the group the Blue Stocking Society.

a woman having intellectual or literary interests


Sir Robert (Bob) Peel, who organized the London police force

Brit. policeman

bob's your uncle

Prime Misister Robert Cecil (1830-1903), the uncle in question, appointed his nephew to a post

Brit. phrase for something easily achieved


Giambiattista Bodoni, It printer died 1813

a printing type, based on Boldoni’s designs


Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), Amer film actor

to hog a thing; take more than one's share

Bohr bug

persumably named for Henrik David Bohr, Danish physicist, 1885–1962, 1922 Nobel Prize. See also schroedinbug, etc.

computing jargon: a repeatable bug; one manifesting reliably. antonym: heisenbug


Simón Bolívar, So. Amer liberator died 1830

the unit of currency of Venezuela


Boniface, innkeeper in The Beaux' Stratagem (1707) by George Farquhar (1678–1707)

the proprietor of a hotel, nightclub, or restaurant


not an eponym, but perhaps reinforced by name of Philadelphia distiller E.G. Booze, around 1880



perhaps taken from Spanish; perh. taken from Borachio, a character Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing

a drunkard


Boreus, Gk god of the north wind

of the north wind, or the north

bork (verb)

Judge Robert H. Bork,whose confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court was blocked by his opponents' media campaign (1987)

to systematically attack a public figure, esp. in the media


after B.J.T. Bosanquet (1877-1936), the first practitioner

Australian slang: a cricket ball, bowled as if to break one way, that breaks the opposite way


James Boswell, 1740–1795, Scot lawyer, diarist, and writer renowned as the biographer of Samuel Johnson

one who records the life of a famous contemporary


Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Fr explorer (1729–1811), and who discovered the this plant

a certain flowering plant, common in gardening


Thomas Bowdler, Eng physician (1754–1825), published a "family Shakespeare", expurgating wording he deemed unsuitable (1818)

to expurgate (a book, for example) prudishly

Bowie knife

popularized by Jim Bowie, famous US frontiersman (1796–1836)– but apparently designed 1827 by his brother Rezin P. Bowie (17931841)

a heavy hunting, fighting and throwing knife


J. Bowler, 19c. London hat manufacturer

a derby hat


Charles C. Boycott, Eng landlord died 1897, ostracized for refusing to reduce rents

to engage in concerted refusal to deal with


Braggadocchio, character in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (1552–1599)

empty, vain bragging


Louis Braille, Fr teacher of the blind (1809–1852)



Steve Brodie, newsboy who in 1886, on a bet, jumped off New York's Brooklyn Bridge

"do a brodie" - take a chance (old Amer slang)


Jonas Bronck, the first settler in the area (died ~1643; sometimes given as Jacob or Joseph Bronck)

Borough of New York City, with population about 1.3 mil.

Brother Jonathan

said to have originated from George Washington thus referring to Jonathan Trumbull, governor of Connecticut

the people of the United States collectively


Henry Peter Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux, Scot jurist (1778–1868)

a car, or a closed carriage, with an open driver's seat


Bruin, the name of the bear in medieval stories of Reynard the Fox. (see also 'chanticleer')

a bear

buckley's chance

William Buckley, Australian convict who, escaping in 1803, survived in the outback for 32 years

Australian slang: remote, scant hope


Mr. Bumble, an officious beadle in Dickens’ Oliver Twist

pompous self-importance and officiousness in a minor official

Bunsen burner

Professor Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, Ger chemist who perfected the device (1811–1899)

a device used in chemistry, for heating


William Burke died 1829, Irish criminal smothered victims to sell intact bodies to medical students for dissection

to suffocate; figuratively, to suppress quietly or indirectly


see entry for 'sideburns'

another term for sideburns


Richard Busby (1606-1695), headmaster of Westminster school, whose pupils included Dryden, Lock, and Wren.

tall ceremonial hat of some Brit soldiers


Bradley, Vorhees & Day, company making that product

underwear (tradename)


Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (1658–1730), Fr colonial governor who founded Detroit in 1701



Julius Caesar, traditionally believed to have been born thus

a cesarean section of delivery of a baby


Calliope, the Gk muse of epic poetry

a musical instrument of steam whistles


Calliope, Gk muse of epic poetry

piercingly loud: a calliopean voice


Georg Josef Kamel, Moravian Jesuit missionary (1661–1706)



the Cappuchin monks, who wear a habit of the same color



7th Earl of Cardigan, Eng soldier died 1868

a type of sweater or jacket


Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt, Ital adventurer who published his memoirs (1725–1798)

a promiscuous man; or a man amorously and gallantly attentive to women


Gk Kassandra, Trojan prophetess fated never to be believed

one who predicts misfortune or disaster

castor oil

Castor in Gk myth (as in Castor and Pollox). Name given to oils from the beaver, used medicinally; carried over to the vegetable oil that replaced the beaver oil.


catherine wheel

St. Catherine of Alexandria, d.305 by torture on a wheel

firework that forms a rotating, flaming wheel

ceasar salad

Caesar Cardini, Tijuana, Mexico restaurateur, created it from leftovers to serve an unexpected crowd



Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer (1701–1744)



Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture



Chanticleer, the name of the rooster in medieval "Reynard the Fox" stories. The name means "sing loud" in Fr. (see also 'bruin')

a rooster



Nicolas Chauvin, fanatically devoted soldier under Napoleon; became an eponym when his name was used as a character in the Cogniard brothers' play La Cocarde Tricolore (1831)

fanatical glorification of one's country (not just "a generous belief in the greatness of one's country"; "wildly extravagant" – Prof. H. Tuttle)


Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773)

a type of sofa, large with upholstered arms

chicken à la king

Foxhall Keene (invented by Delmonico's restauraunt, NY; named for Keene; name changed over time)


chicken tetrazini

Luisa Tetrazzini, Ital soprano



Gk. chimaira, a fabulous monster (with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail)

fantastic; wildly or vainly conceived; also given to unrealistic fantasies


countess of Chinchón, wife of viceroy of Peru. Legend: when this bark cured her 1638 fever, she had more collected for malaria sufferers

the tree bark that yields quinine


José Benito Churriguera, Sp architect (1665–1725)

baroque architectural style characterized by elaborate surface decoration


It Cicerone, Cicero

a guide who conducts sightseers


Gk Kimmerioi, a mythical people

very dark or gloomy


Cinderella, the fairy-tale character

one suddenly lifted from obscurity to honor or significance


enchantress Circe of Homer's Odyssey, who first charmed her victims and then changed them to the forms of beasts

pleasing, but noxious; as, a Circean draught


Edmund Clerihew Bentley, Br writer (1875–1956)

a witty verse, of two rhyming couplets, on a person named in one of the rhymes


Clio, Gk muse of history

study of history using mathematical and economic models and analysis

cobb salad

invented in 1926 by Bob Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles



One theory: Hiram Codd, 1838-1887, Eng inventor of a type of soft-drink bottle ('wallop' being slang for beer).

nonsense (Brit slang)

Colonel Blimp

Colonel Blimp, cartoon character created by David Low

and elderly pompous reactionary


Am Samuel Colt (1814-62), its Am inventor

a type of revolver (firearms. trademark?)


Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), self-appointed Am crusader against immorality

censorship on basis of immorality or obscenity (coined by George Bernard Shaw)

cook’s tour

Thomas Cook, Eng travel agent (1808–1892)

a quick tour or survey, with attention only to the main features


Non-eponym, but often mis-attributed to Thomas Crapper, Br plumber and inventor (1836–1910)



Christ’s cross, common on hornbooks in elementary education



legendary king Croesus of Lydia (died ~547 BC), of huge wealth

a man of extreme wealth

curry favor

from currying Fauvel, a horse in the scathing 1310 story Roman de Fauvel by Gervais de Bus

Note: 'curry' means 'to groom a horse'


the Cynic philosophers in Plato's time, called kunikos=dog-like. Was it from their sneering sarcasm, or Kynosarge "Grey Dog," the gymnasium where they taught? Maybe a pun, meaning both.


czar, tsar

from Kaiser (see below) and thus ultimately from Julius Caesar



Daedalus ("the cunning one"), Athenian inventor in Gk myth

cunningly made; skillful; artul; ingenious


L. J. M. Daguerre, Fr. painter died 1851

an early type of photograph


Anders Dahl, Swedish botanist (1751–1787)


Dandie Dinmont

Dandie Dinmont, character owning such dogs in the novel Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott

a certain breed of dog

davenport (desk)

Originally designed for Captain Davenport, ship's captain, by famous firm of Gillow & Barton, Lancaster. introduced ~1860

a kind of small ornamental writing table

davenport (sofa)

Manufacturer Irving, Casson & Davenport of Boston

a kind of sofa


oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Her prophecies, like today's horoscopes, were craftily equivocal

obscurely prophetic


Edward Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752–1834), founder of the English Derby

name transferred from person to race, and then from race to hat worn there


(Thomas?) Derick, the hangman of Tyburn, London, Eng ~1600

(originally, a hangman or a gallows)


Henry Deringer, 19th cent. Am inventor (only one r in his name)

a short-barreled pocket pistol


Jeremy Diddler, character in the successful 1803 farce Raising the Wind by James Kenney

originally (1806) , "to cheat, swindle," in a small-time way. Note: dic. etymologies neglect this point.


Rudolf Diesel, Ger engineer (1858–1913), its inventor (1892)



Dionysus, Gk god

sensuous, frenzied, or orgiastic


character in Bible parable, Luke 16:19-31. pronc. DIE-veez

a rich man


Ludwig Doberman, 19th cent. Ger dog breeder

a breed of dog (the Doberman pinscher)


One Mr Doiley (or possibly Doyley/Doyly), successful London draper or milliner around 1700


Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden, a woman of colorful clothes in Dickens' Barnaby Rudge

a type of colorfully spotted trout

Don Juan

Don Juan, legendary 14th-c Spanish nobleman and libertine

a seducer of women


perh. Ital actress Eleonora Duse (18591924); wherever started, reinforced by Duesenberg, expensive, classy make of automobile of the late 1920s and 1930s, designed by Fred Duesenberg (1876–1932)

slang: something extraordinary or bizarre (thus, either positive or negative)

doubting Thomas

Saint Thomas, doubted Jesus's resurrection until he had proof

one who is habitually doubtful

Dr. Fell

John Fell, (1625-1686), dean of Christchurch, Oxford, who expelled Tom Brown, prompting Brown’s jingle, “I do not like thee, Dr. Fell …”

a senior person one dislikes, esp. a pedant [not in dictionaries]


Draco, Gk politician who codified the laws of Athens (~621 BC). His code was unpopular for its severity.

exceedingly harsh; very severe: ("draconian budget cuts")


Baron von Drais, of Sauerbrun, its inventor

the earliest kind of bicycle


Drawcansir, a character in George Villiers' play The Rehearsal

one source: "one who kills or injures both friend and foe". Another: "a blustering, bullying fellow; a pot-valiant braggart".


Dr. Jonas Dryasdust, a fictitious character to whom Sir Walter Scott dedicated some of his novels

a dull, pedantic speaker or writer


John Duns Scotus (1265?–1308) respected Scot. theologian; his followers were dunsmen or duns. Critics ridiculing them in 16c. used 'duns' as a negative term.



Lord Dundreary, character in the play Our American Cousin (1858) by Tom Taylor

long flowing sideburns


Egeria, nymph who advised legendary roman king

a woman advisor or companion

eggs benedict

Concocted by Waldorf-Astoria to hangover cure for Samuel Benedict


éminence grise

nickname of Perè Joseph (François Le Clere du Tremblay), Fr monk and confidant of Cardinal Richelieu (1577–1638)

the power behind the throne [but often misused to mean "elder statesman"]


Epicurus, Gk philosopher (341–270 BC)



Eris, Gk god of strife and discord

disputatious, esp. with specious logic


Eros, Gk god of sexual love



Euhemerus, Gk philosopher 4th cent. BC

interpretation of myths as traditional accounts of historical persons and events


Euphues, a character in Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit and Euphues and his England by John Lyly

affected elegance of language


Euterpe, Gk muse of music

pertaining to music


Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, who defeated Hannibal

cautious, dilatory


Fagin, character in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1839)

one who instructs others in crime


Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, Ger physicist, 1686–1736. (born of Ger parents in Gdansk, now in Poland but then in Prussian Confed.)


Fallopian tubes

Gabriello Fallopio (1523-62), It anatomist, described them



Sir John Falstaff, a character it various Shakespeare plays

jovial, convivial, roguish, with zest for life

fanny adams

Fanny Adams, age 8, victim of a notorious murder and dismemberment in Alton, 1867

archaic naval slang: tinned meat, or unpleasant food. sweet fanny adams: Brit slang for 'nothing whatsoever'

fata morgana

Italian version of the sorceress who, in Arthurian legend, is called Morgan le Fay

a mirage


Johann Faust (1480?–1540?), Ger magician and alchemist

insatiably striving for worldly knowledge and power at the price of spiritual values


Favonius, the west wind personified in myth

mild; benign


Fédora Romanoff, title role in Victorien Sardou's tragedy Fédora (1882), in which Sarah Bernhardt made a triumphant comeback


ferris wheel

Gale Ferris (1859–1896), Am engineer, its inventor



St. Philibert's feast day falls at the peak of the nutting season



Horace Fletcher, Am nutritionist

to chew slowly and thoroughly


Jack Foley, pioneering sound effects editor at Universal Studios in the 1930s (1891–1967)

in filmmaking, the adding of sound effects; the person who does this job


Muzio Frangipani, 16th c. Ital marquis

pastry cream filling, almond-flavored; also, perfume of the frangipani shrub


Frankenstein, the creator of the monster in Mary Shelley' Frankenstein

a monstrous creation; esp. one that ruins its originator

Freudian slip

Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician, founder of psychoanalysis (1856–1939)

a slip of the tongue that reveals some unconscious aspect of the mind

frick and frack

Frick and Frack, stage names of comedy ice-skating duo, Werner Groebli (Frick) and Hans Mauch (Frack)

a closely linked or inseparable pair


day of Frigga, Gmc. goddess of married love (trans. of L dies Veneris)



tins from Mrs. Frisbie's Pies, made by the Frisbie Bakery of Bridgeport, Ct., which U.S. college students began tossing them around in the 1930s



Leonhard Fuchs, Ger botanist died 1566



some sources cite a Captain Fudge, "who always brought home his owners a good cargo of lies."

Note:  there was in fact a Captain Fudge, called "Lying Fudge"


either 1) Furphy company's portable toilets in WWI Australia, or 2) Joseph Furphy (1843-1912), Aus. author of tall stories

Australian slang: an unreliable report; a "latrine rumor"


Luigi Galvani, It physician and physicist died 1798

stimulate to action, as if by electric shock


as carried by Mrs. Sarah Gamp, character in Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit

a large baggy umbrella


Alexander Garden, Sc-born Am naturalist and physician (1730?–1791)



Giant-hero Gargantua in Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel

of immense size; gigantic


Guiseppe Garibaldi, Ital. patriot died 1882

a type of woman’s blouse

gatling gun

designed by Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (1818-1903)


geiger counter

invented by Ger. physicist Hans Geiger, with W. Müller



named after Georgette de la Plante, Fr dressmaker

a sheer silk clothing fabric with a dull, creped surface.


Elbridge Gerry, Am statesman died 1814

to divide territory into election districts so as to favor one group


Dr. Johnson ascribes this to Geber, 14th c. alchemist. Modern dictionaries disagree.


gibson girl

Charles Dana Gibson, American illustrator (1867–1944) who created her in his sketch. His main model was his wife, Irene Langhorne. Her sister, by the way, was Lady Astor.

idealized 1890s American young woman; also, style of her clothing characte­rized by high necks, full sleeves, wasp waists


perhaps devised by Sir T. O. Gimlette, Br navy surgeon


gladstone bag

William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), Br Prime Minister

a piece of light hand luggage with two hinged compartments


eponym? I cannot verify whether this term is from the nursery story, or an earlier term used in that story

a person with golden hair


Goliath, a philistine giant in the bible, slain by David

person or thing of collosal size or power


Golliwog, an animated doll in children’s fiction by Bertha Upton

a grotesque black doll; grotesque person

goody two-shoes

Goody Two-shoes, title heroine in 18th c, children's tale (perh, by Oliver Goldsmith) who gushed delight upon getting a second shoe

one who is affectedly good and proper, just a bit too good and proper


Alice the Goon, subhuman creature in E. C. Segar's Popeye comic

note: the word may pre-date Segar

Gordian Knot

Gordius, king of Phrygia

an intricate problem, usu. one insoluble in its own terms


Gorgons, three snaky-haired sisters in Gk myth

an ugly or repulsive woman


the Gorillai, a tribe of hairy women. Mentioned and named by Carthaginian navigator Hanno in his account of his voyage, 5th- or 6th-cent. BC, along east coast of Africa



Thomas Gradgrind, businessman in Charles Dickens' Hard Times (1854)

one interested only in cold, hard facts

graham cracker

Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794–1851), American cleric and social reformer, who created it as a health food


grand marnier

created/named by Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, 1880

an orange-flavored French liqueur


James Granger, Eng. biographer died 1776

to illustrate with pictures collected from other books; to mutilate books to get such materials

granny smith apple

Maria Ann Smith (b. 1799 or 1801; d. 1870), Australian woman who found that variety, as a mutation, in her orchard (1868)



Sir Edmund Beckett, First Baron Grimthorpe, Eng. architect (1816–1905), lambasted in his restoration of St. Albans Abbey

to badly remodel a building, ignoring its character or history

grog (groggy)

Old Grog, nickname of Edward Vernon died 1757, Eng admiral admiral who ordered that his sailors' rum be served diluted

rum cut with water (leading to groggy)

grundyism; mrs. grundy

Mrs. Grundy, character alluded to in the play Speed the Plough by Br playwright Thomas Morton (1764–1838)

an extremely conventional or priggish person


Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738–1814), physician and Fr Revolution Assembly-member, advocated it as more humane than hanging



R. J. Lechmere Guppy (1836–1916), Trinidad clergyman who first supplied specimens to the British Museum



originally, an effigy of Guy Fawkes, leader of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up British king and Parliament (Nov. 5, 1605)

chap; fellow (informal)

ham (a bad actor)

one theory traces this to Hamish McCullough (1835-85), whose acting troop, "Ham's Actors," toured the US midwest.



Arlecchino (in F Harlequin), Ital commedia dell'arte's buffoonish stock-character. (Ital term may come from Old F Hellequin, who led a band of demons across the sky on ghostly horses.)

a clown-like pattern of brightly diamond shapes; or, of many colors


not an eponym; a now-debunked tale is that it is from Arlette, unwed mother of William the Conqueror



Sir Henry Havelock, Eng. general died 1857

a covering on a cap to protect the back of the neck


Hektor, the Trojan champion in the Trojan War

a bully, braggart


name from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Werner Karl Heisenberg, 1901–1976, Ger physicist, 1932 quantum mechanics, 1932 Nobel Prize. See also schroedinbug, etc.

computing jargon: bug acting differently when one tries to probe it (e.g., if it acts on values altered by debugging program)


Hercules of Gk myth

of extraordinary power, size, or difficulty


Hermaphroditos, son of Hermes and Aphrodite who becomes joined in one body with a nymph while bathing

animal or plant with both male and female reproductive organs; also, a combination of diverse elements


Hermes Trismegitus (lit. ‘Hermes thrice greatest), legendary author concerning magic, astrology and alchemy

recondite. Also: [from belief he invented a magic seal] airtight, or impervious to external influence

Hobson’s Choice

Thomas Hobson, Eng. liveryman died 1631 who made each customer take the nearest horse

a choice, appearing free, but with no real alternative


A common view traces term to Amer Civil War general Joseph Hooker. But in fact the term is earilier, and is not an eponym.



perh. fr. Patrick Hooligan, Irish hoodlum in London fl 1898



William Henry Hoover, Amer industrialist (1849–1932)

a vacuum cleaner; to vacuum with one


Herbert Clark Hoover (1874–1964), US president at the first years of the Great Depression began

a crudely built camp put up on the edge of town to house the homeless

Horatio Alger

Horatio Alger, Am author of inspirational adventure stories for boys (1832–1899)

achieving success through hard work and virtue (per Alger's stories)


Hotspur, in Shakespeare's Henry V. (Mrs. Bryne's Dictionary says the word comes from characterand not vice versa.)

a hot-headed, impetuous man


Edmond Hoyle (1672?-1769), Br writer on games

according to Hoyle = per the prescribed rules


Richard and Robert Hutton, Eng bonesetters, who made it a part of their method

forcible manipulation of a dislocated, stiff, or painful joint


Hyacinth, handsome young man in Gk myth adored by two gods

a type of flower


Hypnos, Gk god of sleep



Gk Ikraros, legendary son of Daedalus

inadequate for an ambitious project


Ignoramus, lawyer in George Ruggle's play Ignoramus (1615). Latin for "we are ignorant of"

an utterly ignorant person


nickname for William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450), whose coat of arms included an ape; slang for monkey was Jack Napes ("Jack of Naples")

a silly, conceited person; a ridiculous upstart

Jacky Howe

John "Jacky" Howe (1855-1922), superb Australian sheep­shearer.  His 1892 record (321 merinos in one working day) stood until 1950, when a machine beat it.

Australian slang: a sheepshearer's sleeveless shirt


trademarked name; company founder Roy Jacuzzi



Janus, Roman god with two faces looking in opposite directions



Originally the 'GP' (for 'general purpose'); influenced by Eugene the Jeep, pet creature of Olive Oyl in E.G. Segar's comic strip. "Jeep" was the sound the creature made.



Jehu, king of Israel, known for his wild chariot driving (Bible II Kings)

one who drives furiously

jekell and hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson



Jeremiah, pessimistic Old Testament prophet, died ~585 B.C.

a speech of bitter lament or righteous prophecy of doom


perhaps from the Jerry brothers, early 19th c. Liverpool firm that built unsound houses



perhaps from jeroboam, a large bolw or bottle, which is in turn from Jeroboam I, King of Israel, 931-910 B.C.

Military slang: a 5-gallon petrol can


Jezebel, a wicked woman in the bible (I and II Kings)

a evil and scheming woman

jim crow

from name of a black minstrel character in a popular song-and-dance act, which in turn from a T.D. Rice song of 1828

upholding discrimination against Black people ("Jim Crow laws")


from 'by jingo', which may be a euphemism for Jesus

extreme and belligerent nationalism


Charlse Joseph La Trobe, 1801-75, fanatical and pety lawman, Lt. Gov. of Victoria in 1851

Australian slang: policeman

John Bull

John Bull, a character in John Arbuthnot's Law Is a Bottomless Pit

personification of England or the English

john dory

some say from John Dory, 16th c. privateer.  But more likely from its golden color (Fr doré = golden)

a kind of fish

John Hancock

John Hancock, the first signor of the US Declaration of Independence. His signature there is prominent.

a person's signature


Jonah, character in the bible swallowed by a big fish

one believed to bring bad luck


perh. bible, Joram, II Samuel 8:10, who “brought ... vessels of silver”

a large drinking vessel, or its contents


Jupiter, Roman god (unclear if word is the god, or from presumed astrological inflence of the planet named after that god)



Judas Iscariot, biblical traitor

one who betrays in the guise of friendship (judas hole: one-way peephole in a door)


Jaggernaut, a title of Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu)

a massive inexorable force that crushes everything in its path


Julius Caesar



Jumbo, name of the London Zoo's huge elephant, sold in 1882 (the word is from the elephant's name, not vice versa). The name may come from Swahili jumbe = chief



Juno, chief Roman goddess, wife of Jupiter


kaiser roll

from the Ger title 'Kaiser'=emporor, which is from Julius Caesar


kewpie doll

doll named for the god Cupid by its creator, commercial illustrator Rose O'Neill (1874–1944)



Canon Felix Kir (1876-1968), mayor of Dijon, who is said to have invented the drink


klieg light

brothers John H. Kliegl (1869–1959) and Anton Tiberius Kliegl (1872–1927), German-born Am lighting experts



Historian Deidrich Knickerbocker, Washing­ton Irving's pseudonym in his wildly popular, humorous History of New York (1809)

a resident of New York (city or state)


the pants worn by the Knickerbockers (see above) in illustrations of in 1850's edition of Irving's book



Rudolph Laban (1879–1958), Hungarian choreographer

a system of notation for recording the dance


J. B. de Monet Lamarck, Fr biologist died 1829

theory that one passes his acquired physical traits to his descendants


Françoise Louise de la Baume Le Blanc (1644–1710), Duchesse de La Vallière, the lover of Louis XIV of France

a pendant worn on a chain around the neck


Jules Léotard, Fr aerialist (1830–1870)


levi's jeans; Levi's

Levi Strauss, (1829?–1902), Am manufacturer who founded the company (1850)



Winford Lee Lewis, Am chemist (1878–1943)

a poison gas developed for war use

lobster newberg

Ben Wenburg. (Invented by Delmonico's restauraunt, NY; named for Wenburg; name changed upon a falling out.)



James H. Logan (1841-1928), Am lawyer develped it, 1881

a type of blackberry/raspberry cross


Lothario, seducer in Nicholas Rowe's play The Fair Penitent (1703)

a man whose chief interest is seducing women


Lucius Licinius Lucullus Ponticus, Roman general (~110–~56 BC)

lavish, luxurious, opulent (e.g. a banquet)

Lucy Stoner

Lucy Stone (1818-1893), prominent Am suffragette

a married woman who keeps her maiden name


Luddites, organized band of weavers who destroyed machinery in England 1811–16, said to be Ned Ludd, a Leicestershire worker

one who opposes technological change


one theory cites a drinking club known as City of Lushington after Dr Thomas Lushington (1590-1661), Br chaplain

a drunkard


AHD: Alois Lutz, Austrian figure skater (1898–1918). MW: Gustave Lussi, called a "skater", "born 1898". (note: skating coach?)

a kind of jump in figure skating


Bryson says no one knows which Mr. Lynch was involved. AHD names Captain William Lynch of Virginia (1742–1820)



danse Macabré (dance of Death), which is prob. from "dance of the Maccabees", martyred bothers who led a Jewish revolt against Seleucid dynasty ~165 BC; celebrated in Chanukah.

gruesome; having death as a subject; causing horror in the viewer


John L. McAdam, Brit. engineer died 1836

a common type of paving of roads

macadamia nut

John Macadam, Australian chemist died 1865


Mach number

Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist died 1916

speed, stated as ratio to speed of sound


Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian statesman and writer (1469–1527)

marked by cunning, duplicity, expediency


Charles Macintosh, Sc chemist & inventor (1766–1843)


Mae West

Mae West, busty Am actress (1892?–1980)

an inflatable vestly life jacket (which gives the wearer a busty look)


Mary Magdalene in the bible

a reformed prostitute; a reformatory for prostitutes


Pierre Magnol, Fr botanist (1638–1715)



Mrs. Malaprop, character in R. B. Sheridan's comedy The Rivals, noted for her misuse of words

humorous misuse of a word sounding like the one intended

man Friday

Friday, native servant in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719)

a valued right-hand man


name taken after the Mandelbrot set in math: Benoit B. Mandelbrot, Polish-born Am mathematician b. 1924 See also schroedinbug, etc.

computing jargon: a bug whose behaviour appears chaotic or even nondeterministic


Marcel Grateau, Fr hairdresser (1852–1936)

a deep soft wave made in the hair by the use of a heated curling iron


the month of Mars, Roman god of war


Mardi gras

F for "Fat Tuesday"; ''mardi' = the day of Mars, Roman god of war



the name Mary (which some sources say is prob. a reference to the Virgin Mary) + gold, for color

a popular type of garden flower


one dubious story is that Mary Queen of Scots, when ill, could eat only this (Marie Malade = sick Mary)



After Marplot, character in The Busy Body, play by Susannah Centlivre (1669–1723)

one whose meddling ruins the plans of others


Mars, Roman god of war (see note re 'jovial')

of war or a warrior; also, warlike


Jean Martinet, Fr army officer died 1672

a strict disciplinarian; also, a demander of absolute adherence to forms and rules


at root, “the seated king” (referring to Christ), name of Easter candies



Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Austrian novelist (1836–1895), early writer about of its pleasures


mason jar

John L. Mason, Am inventor (1832–1902)

a wide-mouthed glass jar with a screw top, used for canning food


Mary Magdalene, often depicted as a weeping, penitent sinner



Mausolus, Persian satrap of Caria (died ~353 BC), whose wife commissioned a huge tomb for him

a monumental tomb


Samuel A. Maverick, Am cattleman who did not brand his calves



the month of Maia, an Italic earth-goddess



Cardinal Mazarin, prime minister of France, 1643–1661

a deep blue color, named in his hono(u)r


Joseph R. McCarthy, U.S. senator died 1957



Medusa of Gk myth, one of the three Gorgons with snakes for hair

the tentacled stage in the life cycle of a jellyfish. [a nice image, that!]


Gk Mentor, whom Odysseus entrusted with educating his son

a trusted counselor or guide


Mercury, Roman messenger god (see note re 'jovial')



Franz Mesmer, Austrian physician (1734–1815)

to hypnotize; to spell-bind


Methuselah, character in the Bible (Gen. 5)

an extremely old man


Wilkins Micawber, character in Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield

one who is poor but lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune

mickey finn

origin obscure; some sources ascribe the term to Mickey Finn, a notorious 1890s Chicago tavern proprietor

slang: knockout drops slipped into a drink

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse, cartoon character created by Walt Disney

lacking importance; annoyingly petty

Midas touch

Midas, fabled king with power to turn all he touched to gold

ability to make & keep huge sums money


Casper Milquetoast, a comic-strip character created by Harold Tucker Webster (1885–1952)

a meek, timid, unassertive person

mint (as coins)

Juno Moneta; Romans minted their coins at her temple. See 'money'



Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, died 63 BC, who underwent the procedure himself

tolerance to a poison, acquired by taking gradually increased doses

Molotov cocktail

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, prominent Soviet politician (1890–1986)

makeshift incendiary bomb: flammable liquid in a breakable bottle, with rag wick lit just before hurling


Roman goddess Juno, in her role as Juno Moneta ("she who warms"), protected Rome's finance


monkey wrench

probably a Mr. Monk, mechanic in Springfield Mass. (OED cites Charles Moncke, Br. blacksmith, but appears to be relying on Robert Ripley of Ripley's Believe It or Not.)

US term for what Brits call a spanner


Fr Brothers Jacques Étienne (1745–99) and Joseph Michel (1740–1810) Montgolfier, aeronauts, invented first practical balloon 1783

a hot-air balloon


J. P. Morgan, Am financial baron, died 1913

a rose-colored gem variety of beryl


William Morgan of upstate New York, notoriously kidnapped and killed in 1826 when he threatened to disclose activities of the Masons' secret society.

to assassinate or kidnap in order to prevent disclosures


J. P. Morgan, Am financial baron, died 1913

to acquire control of an entire industry, for profit


Morpheus, Roman god of dreams



Munchkins, diminutive creatures in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

a person who is notably small and often endearing

Murphy game

Miss Murphy, nonexistent prostitute used to lure victims

any of various confidence games, esp. one luring victim with prospect of sex

Murphy's Law

apparently in the 1940s, Capt. Ed Murphy, aircraft engineer and Air Force officer, said of a technician, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he will."



lit. "Home of the Muses", goddesses inspiring learning and arts



Myrmidons, warriors accompanying king Achilles in Trojan War

a loyal follower who executes orders unquestioningly


Namby-Pamby, satire on the poetry of Ambrose Philips (1674–1749), by Henry Carey (1687?–1743)

a insipid, sentimental, or weak person (also adj.)


Narcissus, youth in Gk legend who pined away for love – love of his own image in a pool of water

excessive love or admiration of oneself


Nemesis, the Gk goddess of retributive justice

one who inflicts retribution or vengeance


Gk Nestor, a aged king who serves as a counselor to the Greeks at Troy

a patriarch or leader in a field


Jean Nicot, Fr diplomat and scholar died 1600



Nimrod, in Genesis in the bible, "a mighty hunter before the Lord"

a mighty hunter


Obsius, a Roman, the supposed discoverer of obsidian (Later, obsianus was misread as obsidianus.)

a shiny and black stone, formed by cooling of lava

ockham's razor

William of Ockham, ~1285-?1349

general principle to prefer the simpler of two competing explanantions


Odysseus, whose wanderings are told in Homer's Odyssey

a long voyage (physical or spirtual) marked by many changes of fortune


Oedipus, mythical Gk who, abandoned at birth, later unwittingly killed his father and then married his mothe

of the Oedipus complex: a boy's unconscious sexual desire for his mother


Onan, biblical character, Gen. 38:9



William of Orange, later King William III

a Protestant Irishman


Charles Boyle, Fourth Earl of Orrery (1676–1731), for whom one was made.

a mechanical model of the solar system


George Orwell, author of 1984

evoking Orwell's picture of a future totalitarian state

Oscar (the award)

an Academy employee, seeing the prototype of the statute, said, "Oh, that looks just like my Uncle Oscar" (his full name: Oscar Pierce)

tradename of movie awards of the Aca­demy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Ozymandias of Egypt, sonnet by Eng poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

huge or grandiose but ultimately devoid of meaning (M-W Dict. of Allusion)


Pallas Athena, Gk goddess

characterized by wisdom or study


Andrea Palladio, Ital architect (1508–1580)

a certain Renaissance architectural style; a mid-18th century style derived from it

pander; pandar

Pandarus, procurer for Cressida and Troilus in med. romance



Doctor Pangloss, optimistic tutor in Voltaire's Candide

excessively optimistic


Pan, Gk god of woods and shepherds, credited with causing the Persians to panic at the battle of Marathon



Gk god Pan, regarded as its inventor (see 'panic')



Pantagruel, huge son of Gargantua in Rabelais’s Pantagruel

coarsely and extravagantly satirical

pants; pantaloons

Pantalone, Ital commedia dell'arte stock-character. Traces back to Pantaleon, the patron saint of Venice



Pasquino, nickname of a statue in Rome on which lampoons were posted

(noun or verb): satire or lampoon, esp. one that ridicules a specific person


Louis Pasteur, Fr chemist died 1822–1895



Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, Rus physiologist (1849–1936), awarded 1904 Nobel prize

being or expressing a conditioned or predictable reaction; automatic


Seth Pecksniff, character in Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit

hypocritically benevolent; sanctimonious

peeping Tom

legendary Peeping Tom of Coventry, England, the only person to see the naked Lady Godiva (11th century)

a voyeur

peter pan

protagonist Peter Pan, in the play Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (1904) by Sir James Barrie (1860–1937)

an adult who hangs on to adolescent interests and attitudes

Peter Pan collar

Peter Pan, as noted above

a small, flat collar with rounded ends meeting in front


Gk myth of Phaëthon, a son of the sun god, killed while trying to drive his father's chariot across the sky.

a touring car


Philander, popular name for a lover in stories, drama, and poetry

to carry on a love affair, without serious intentions (said of a male)


speeches of Demosthenes against Phillip II of Macedon

an denunciation full of acrimonious invective; a tirade


At the end of a horrifying Ovid story of rape, mutilation, murder and cannibalism, sisters Philomena and sister Procne are changed into a swallow and a nightingale. But which was which?

nightingale (But at least one good source says that in Ovid, Philomena became the swallow.)


Samuel Pickwick, character in Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers

with simplicity and generosity; also, in other than the obvious or literal sense


Christopher Pinchbeck, Eng watchmaker (1670?–1732)

an alloy used imitate gold in jewelry; also, (noun & adj.) cheap imitation


Plato, Gk philosopher (429 ~347 BC)

of a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex


Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898), Br shipping reformer

a line on a ship, indicating how high it may be loaded


Joel Roberts Poinsett, American diplomat (1779–1851)



Pollyanna, heroine of the novel Pollyanna, by Am author Eleanor Porter

a person of irrepressible optimism who tends to find good in everything


Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721–1764), the lover of Louis XV of France


Ponzi scheme

Charles Ponzi, Ital immigrant to US (1882–1949), who ran such a scheme in 1919-20

a kind of financial fraud, akin to a pyramid scheme


Pooh-Bah, character in the operetta The Mikado (1885) by Gilbert and Sullivan

a pompous person of position or influence


apparently after F. W. Poos, Amer. entomologist (1891–1987)

a suction bottle for collecting insects


Marshal Duplessis-Praslin, whose cook invented it



Procrustes, mythical robber of Attica who seized travelers, tied them to his bed, and to make them fit either stretched their limbs or lopped of their legs

producing strict conformity by ruthless or arbitrary means


Proteus, Gk sea-god able to assume various shapes

readily assuming different shapes or roles

psyche; psychology

Psyche, a young woman in Gk myth, beloved of Eros; subsequently became the personification of the soul

soul; self; mind


George M. Pullman, Amer industrialist (1831–1897)

a railroad parlor car or sleeping car


Punchinello (which see)

(as in Punch and Judy)


Punchinello, short fat buffoon in Ital puppet shows

a squat grotesque person


the sources say it is from L. puritas 'purity". I disagee; I suggest the religious Puritan groups took their name from that Latin, and that 'puritanical' came from the religious group.

overscrupulous; rigid; marked by stern morality

pyrrhic victory

Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, won a battle over the Romans so costy that he said, (279 BC), "One more such victory and we are lost."

a victory won at an excessive costs that outweigh the benefits


Pyrrho, founded a school of skeptics in Greece (about 300 BC)

skepticism; universal doubt


probably from Python, mythical serpent killed by Apollo



Graman Quassi, captured into slavery from Africa, obtained freedom, and ~1730 discovered the curative power of the bark from which quassia is made

a medicine against intestinal worms, once very popular in Europe; still in use today


Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian politician died 1945

a traitor who collaborates by serving in the invader’s puppet government


Don Quixote, hero of a romance by Miguel de Cervantes.]

idealistic without regard to practicality


François Rabelais, Fr humorist & satirist, 1494?–1533

marked by gross robust humor or extravagant caricature


Peter Rahman (1920-62), Polish immigrant, a notoriously unscrupulous London landlord

unscrupulous behaviour by landlords


Ragamoffyn, demon in Piers Plowman (1393, attrib. William Langland)



Baron Raglan, Brit. field marshal died 1855

particular style of sleeves for overcoat

real McCoy

"no one knows who or what this McCoy was" – Bryson. Others express, with certainty, inconsistent theories



Ritz hotels, est. by César Ritz (1850–1918), Swiss hotelier



1920 Czech play "R.U.R." by Karel Capek (1890–1938), which in Eng translation became "Rossum's Universal Robots"

note: I am unsure whether "robot" was a character in the play, that is, whether "robot" is an eponym

rodomontade; rhodomontade

Rodomonte, character in Orlando Innamorato by Matteo M. Boiardo

vain boasting or bluster


Romeo, the hero of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet



Baron von Roorback, pen-name of author of Roorback's Tour Through the Western and Southern States, used in 1844 US presidential campaign

a false or slanderous story used for political advantage


Antoine Gaston Jean Baptiste, Duc de Roquelaure (1656–1738), Fr marshal

knee-length cloak with bright silk lining and fur trim, worn by 18c European men


Quintus Roscius (~126-62 B.C.), esteemed Roman actor

an eminent actor (n and adj.)


Rosinante, the horse of Don Quixote in the novel by Cervantes

an old, decrepit horse

rube goldberg

Reuben Lucius Goldberg, Amer cartoonist (1883–1970)

doing by complicated means what could be done simply


Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish painter (1577–1640)

plump or fleshy and voluptuous (used of a woman)

sad sack

The Sad Sack, blundering army private in cartoon created in 1942 by Sgt. George Baker (1915–1975), and the name of the strip

an inept person; esp. an inept soldier


Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade ("the Marquis de Sade"), Fr Count and writer (1740–1814)


salisbury steak

J. H. Salisbury, Amer doctor


Sally Lunn

Sally Lunn, 18th c. Eng baker (some say a girl of Bath who sold baked goods from a cart)

a slightly sweetened tea cake


Daniel Elmer Salmon, Amer pathologist (1850–1914)

type of bacteria, often toxic


John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, died 1792, fond of gambling. The sandwich let him continue to gamble while doing his eating.



Sappho, ancient Gk poetess



Sardanapulus, last king of Nineveh, who lived in outrageous luxury – at least according to legend

luxuriously effeminate


Victorien Sardou, hugely popular Fr playwright (1831–1908). To get the flavor: his best-known farce is Divorçons (Let's Get a Divorce)

clever but trivial or immoral plays


Saturn's day



Adolphe Sax (1814–1894), Belg. musical instrument designer, its inventor



Scaramuccia, a stock character in the Italian commedia dell'arte, characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness

a cowardly buffoon


name taken after Schroedinger's Cat thought-experiment. Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961) Austrian physicist in quantum mechanics, winner of a 1922 Nobel Prize. See also Bohr Bug, heisenbug, mandelbug.

computing jargon: bug that appears when someone using the program in an unusual way notes that it shouldn't have worked; it then stops working for everyone


Ebenezer Scrooge, protagonist of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

a mean-spirited miserly person; a skinflint


Skylle, Gk myth, a nymph changed into a monster who terrorizes mariners

between Scylla and Charybdis: between two equally hazardous alternatives


Sequoya, a Cherokee Indian who created a notation for writing the Cherokee language (1770–1843)

a huge species of coniferous tree, that may reach more than 300 feet tall

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple, child actress (1928–  )

a certain nonalcoholic cocktail (a child's drink), served esp. to a girl


Henry S. Shrapnel (1761–1842), Brit artillery officer who developed it



Shylock, Jewish usurer in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

a loan shark


Eponym? perh. Mr. Scheuste, 1840s New York lawyer; perh. Ger Scheisser "bastard," "an incompetent" fr Scheisse "shit"

an unscrupulous lawyer [tautological?]


Gk Sibylla, name for any of several prophetesses consulted by ancient Greeks and Romans

a female prophet


Ambrose Everett Burnside, US Civil War general (The syllables of his eponym quickly transposed, for unknown reasons.)



Étienne de Silhouette, Fr controller general of finances died 1767


Simon Legree

Simon Legree, a cruel slave-owner in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

a brutal taskmaster


Simon Magus, Samaritan sorcerer in Acts 8:9-24

the buying or selling of a church office


Sirens, female creatures in Gk myth, partly human, who lured mariners to destruction by their singing

a temptress

(siren song: an deceptive allurement)


Sisyphos, king in Gk myth, who in the afterlife rolls uphill a stone which perpetually rolls down as it nears the top

endlessly laborious or futile

smart aleck

perhaps allusion to Aleck Hoag, notorious pimp, thief, and confidence man in New York City in early 1840s


Soapy Sam

orig. applied to Samuel Wilberforce (18051873), bishop of Oxford from 1845

disparaging nickname for any unctuous person [not in dictionaries]


Daniel C. Solander, 18th c. Swedish botanist

a protective box shaped like a book, to hold botanical specimens, maps, etc.


Solomon, king of Israel (~965~925 BC)

displaying (or requiring) great wisdom, esp. in difficult decisions


Solon, Athenian lawgiver, 638?–559? BC

a wise and skillful lawgiver


John Philip Sousa, American bandmaster and composer, known as "the March King" (1854–1932)

a large brass wind instrument, similar in range to the tuba, for marching bands.


George John Spencer, Second Earl Spencer (1758–1834)

a type fo men's breasted; a type of women's jacket


one theory cites the Venetian inventor, Giovanni Spinetti



William A. Spooner, Eng clergyman & educator died 1930

transposition of initial sounds of words (as in tons of soil for sons of toil)

St. Elmo’s fire

St. Elmo, patron saint of sailors

visible electric discharge on a pointed object (ship's mast or airplane's wing) in an electrical storm

St. Martin’s summer

St. Martin, whose feast day is November 11

Indian summer in November

St. Vitus dance

St. Vitus, 3rd c. Christian martyr

nervous disorder marked by spasmodic movements


Stentor, a loud-voiced Greek herald in the Iliad

extremely loud


1902, from John Batterson Stetson (1830–1906), US hat manufacturer

trademark for a broad-brimmed high-crowned felt hat


Svengali, character in the novel Trilby (see 'trilby' below)

one exercising hypnotic influence over a youthful protégé, often sinister

sword of Damocles

Damocles, legenday Gk who was forced to sit under a sword suspended by a single hair, to understand the peril of a king's role

constant threat; imminent peril


Syphilus, protagonist of Girolamo Fracastoro's (1478?–1553) poem "Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus" (“Syphilis, or the French Disease”)



When nymph Syrinx was chased by god Pan and unable to cross river, the river nymphs changed her to a bed of reeds.



Tom of Shanter, hero of a 1790 poem by Robert Burns



Tantulus, king in Gk myth, who spends afterlife in a river up to his chin, under branches laden with fruit – but water and fruit withdraw whenever he tries to eat or drink



the protagonist of Molière's play Tartuffe

a hypocrite, esp. who affects piety


from St. Audrey, via "St. Audrey's lace"


teddy bear

Teddy (Theodore) Roosevelt (1858–1919), US pres. 1901-09



Termagaunt, a fictitious Muslim deity appearing in medieval morality play

a quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew


Terpsichore, Gk muse of dancing

a dancer, or adj. relating to dancing


Thalia, Gk muse of comedy

pertaining to comedy


Frank Gilbreth, US industrial engineer; originated time-and-motion-study. (He was also the father portrayed in the book "Cheaper by the Dozen".)

a basic elements in a task or manual operation. Gilbreth coined the word, basically his own name spelled backwards


Thersites, commoner, disagrees with leaders in Homer's Iliad

scurrilous; foul-mouthed; grossly abusive


Thespis, Gk poet 6th cent BC, reputedly originated drama

an actor or actress (adj: related to drama)


Thraso, braggart soldier in the comedy Eunuchus by Terence

bragging, boastful


day of Thor (trans. of L Jovis dies day of Jupiter)



Titans, giants in Gk Myth, the children of Uranus and Gaea

one of prodigious size, strength, or achievement

titch; tich; titchy

Little Tich,stage name and childhood nickname of Eng comedian Harry Relph (1867-1928). nickname from famous 1860s case of Roger Tichborne, heir who had been lost at sea

very small (Relph was 4'6" tall)


Titian (1490?-1576), painter who often used that color

a brownish orange

Tom and Jerry

Corinthian Tom & Jerry Hawthorne, characters in Life in London (1812) by Pierce Egan

a hot sweetened drink of rum, water and spices and a separately-beaten egg

Tom Collins

origin unclear. according to Mencken, after "a distinguished barman," whose name was persumably Tom Collins

a collins drink with a base of gin

tommy gun

John T. Thompson, Am army officer died 1940

Thomson (or other) submachine gun


Lorenzo Tonti, Italian-born French banker (1635–1690?)

a pooled fund where the entire fund goes to the last-surviving participant

Topsy ("growed like topsy")

Topsy, slave girl in Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852), who never knew she had parents. Asked how she came into the world, she replied, “I’spects I growed."

"growed like Topsy": figure of speech for growing by itself, without apparent design or intention


Trilby O'Ferrall, protagonist in 1884 novel Trilby by George Du Maurier. The novel was a runaway success

a type of hat (shown in the novel's illus­trations and its adaption to the stage?)


John Trudgen, Br swimmer (1852–1902),



day of Tiu, Gmc god of war (trans. of L dies Martis Day of Mars)



Earl S. Tupper (1907-83), its inventor



Mr. Turveydrop, character in Charles Dickens' Bleak House

a perfect model of deportment

Tweedledum & Tweedledee

Fat identical twins in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (1872). Carroll took the names from their similar use in John Byrom's (1692–1793) satire On the Feuds between Handel and Bononcini..

two individuals or groups that are practically indistinguishable

Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary, nickname of Mary Mallon (died 1938), Irish cook in US, who was personally healthy but a carrier of typhoid. As a cook she spread the disease. When she refused to cease that job, she was quarantined for life.

one whom something undesirable or deadly spreads


Ucalgon Trojan elder at siege of Troy; Aeneas' neighbor. His house was torched when Troy was sacked. (per Aeneid) (literally "Mr. What-Me-Worry?" says one source)

a neighbor whose house is on fire

Uncle Sam

Prob. not an eponym (just from letters "U.S."), but one theory traces it to Sam Wilson, Troy, NY, in 1813

personification of the United States

Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom, a kindly but obsequious slave in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

(offensive) a black person humiliatingly subservient or deferential to white people


Urania, Gk muse of astronomy

of the heavens; celestial

Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep, character in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield

a hypocritically-humble man [OED (1989) lists this not as a word, but as a character name "used allusively"]


Saint Valentine, Ital priest died ~270



from 'vampire'; may ultimately trace to Theda Bara as The Vampire in the 1915 film A Fool There Was

a seductive woman

van dyck

Anton Van Dyck, Flemish painter (1599-1641)

a short, pointed beard; a type of collar

van dyke

Sir Anthony Vandyke, Flem. portrait painter (1599–1641)

a trim, pointed style of beard


Venus, Roman goddess of love and beauty (see note: 'jovial')



Pierre Vernier, Fr mathematician died 1637

a small auxiliary device to make fine adjustment in the main device


St. Veronica, whose kerchief wiped the face of Christ

a bullfighting pass in which the cape passes slowly over the bull’s face


Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India (1819–1901)

exaggeratedly proper in manners


Vulcan, Roman god of fire



main character in Ben Jonson's play Volpone, or the Fox (1606)

a cunning schemer; a miser


Vulcan, Roman god of fire

a treatment giving rubber strength, stretch, etc.


day of the god Woden (trans. of L dies Mercurii day of Mercury)



Brits cite the verse, "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffiy was a thief."  Welsh cite Bob Welch, Epsom bookie who absquatulated with the bets.

to renege on a deal


Sam Weller, witty servant in Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers (1836-37)

a well-known quote plus a facetious sequel (“everyone to his own taste,” said the old woman as she kissed the cow)


Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Brit general and statesman died 1852

a leather boot with loose top, usually coming above the knee

Wheatstone bridge

Sir Charles Wheatstone, Eng physicist (1802–1875). Crediting S.H. Christie as the inventor, he developed many uses of the bridge.

a bridge for measuring electric resistance


J. Wellington Wimpy in Popeye comic strip (or from "whimper")

weak and ineffectual


named in 1818 in memory Am anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761-1818); note the misspelling



Xantippe, shrewish wife of Socrates

an ill-tempered woman

yapp (n. & v.)

William Yapp, London bookseller

a leather bookcover extending  past the page edges


Charles Anderson Worsley, 2nd Earl of Yarborough, (1809–1897). He bet 1000:1 against dealing "yarborough" hand.

cards: a bridge or whist hand (13 cards) with no card higher than a 9


[unknown; often linked to supposed John Yegg, safecracker]

a burglar; orig. a safecracker

yellow journalism

use of yellow ink in printing “Yellow Kid,” a cartoon strip in the New York World, a newspaper noted for sensationalism

journalism characterized by sensationalism

Young Turk

Young Turk, member of 20th c. Turkish revolutionary party

an insurgent


zani, traditional masked clown; Zanni, nickname for Giovanni. 1st known Eng use is Shakespeare's Love's Labour Lost



Zephyrus, the west wind personified in myth

a gentle breeze


Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838–1917), Ger general who perfected its design



Johann G. Zinn, Ger botanist

a certain flower


Zoilus, Gk grammarian ~400–320 BC, who wrote vicious attacks on Homer, Plato and other literary lights

a severe and carping critic




André Marie Ampère, Fr physicist (17751836)

electric current


Anders Jonas Ångström, Swed physicist and astronomer (1814–1874)



Maurice Emile Baudot, Fr engineer (1845–1903)

speed in data transmission

Baumé scale

Antoine Baumé, Fr pharmacist (1728–1804)

specific gravite of liquids

Beaufort scale

Sir Francis Beaufort, Br naval officer (1774–1857)

force of wind


Antoine Henri Becquerel, Fr physicist (1852–1908)



Alexander Graham Bell, Sc-Am inventor (1847–1922)

difference in sound power


Anders Celsius, Swed astronomer (1701–1744)

temperature scale


Charles Augustin de Coulomb, Fr physicist (1736–1806)

electric charge


Marie Curie, Pol-born Fr chemist (1867–1934)

[some sources say her husband Pierre Curie (1859–1906)]

radioactive activity


John Dalton, Br chemist (1766–1844)

atomic mass


Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, Ger-born physicist (1686–1736)

temperature scale


Michael Faraday,Br physicist and chemist (1791–1867)

electric capacitance


Michael Faraday, Br physicist and chemist (1791–1867)

electricity transferred in electrolysis


Enrico Fermi, Ital-born Amer physicist (1901–1954)

length (10-15 meter)


Karl Friedrich Gauss, Ger mathematician and astronomer (1777-1855)

magnetic flux density


William Gilbert, Eng court physician (1544–1603)

electromagnetic unit of magnetomotive force


Louis Harold Gray, British radiobiologist (1905–1965)

energy absorbed from ionizing radiation


Joseph Henry, Amer physicist (1797–1878)



Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, Ger physicist (1857–1894)

wave frequency


James Prescott Joule, Brit physicist (1818–1889)



William Thompson, First Baron Kelvin, Brit physicist (1824–1907)

temperature scale


Johann Heinrich Lambert, Ger physicist and astronomer (1728–1777)



Samuel Pierpoint Langley, Amer astronomer (1834–1906)

solar radiation

Mach number

Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist and philosopher (1838–1916)

speed, as ratio to the speed of sound


James Clerk Maxwell, Sc physicist (1831–1879)

magnetic flux


backward spelling of 'ohm', which see (reciprocal of the ohm)

electrical conductance

Mohs scale

Friedrich Mohs, Ger mineralogist (1773–1839)

hardness of rock


Sir Isaac Newton, Eng mathematician and scientist (1642–1727)



Hans Christian Oersted, Dan physicist (1777–1851)

magnetic intensity


Georg Simon Ohm, Ger physicist (1789–1854)

electrical resistence


Blaise Pascal, Fr mathematician, philosopher inventor (1623–1662)



Jean Louis Marie Poiseuille, Fr physician and physiologist (1799–1869)

dynamic viscosity


René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, Fr physicist (1683–1757)

temperature scale

Richter scale

Charles Francis Richter, Am seismologist (1900–1985)

energy of an earthquake


Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen, Ger physicist (1845–1923)

X-ray or gamma ray radiation exposure


Ernest Rutherford, First Baron Rutherford of Nelson, New Zealand-born Brit physicist (1871–1937)

rate of radioactive decay


Wallace Clement Ware Sabine (1868–1919), American physicist

acoustic absorbtion


Ernst Werner von Siemens, Ger engineer (1816–1892)

electrical conductance


Nikola Tesla, Serb William Thompson, -born Amer electrical engineer and physicist (1856–1943)

magnetic flux density


Count Alessandro Volta, Ital physicist 1745–1827)

electric potential and electromotive force (voltage)


James Watt, Sc engineer and inventor (1736–1819)



Wilhelm Eduard Weber, Ger physicist (1804–1891)

magnetic flux



   (other wines use some of these names differently)



Jeroboam, king of Israel, died ~907 BC

  4 bottles


Rehoboam, king of Judah, died ~913 BC

  6 bottles


biblical Methuselah (Gen 5:27), who lived to age 969

  8 bottles


Shalmaneser, a king of Assyria in the Bible

12 bottles


biblical Balthazar, one of the three wise men (magi)

16 bottles


Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (~630 -~561 BC)

20 bottles


biblical Melchior, another of the magi

24 bottles