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Our theme this week will be eponyms, that is, words from the name of a real or fictional character. I confess the theme was chosen parly to accommodate an oddball eponym I found, which will end the week!

Tommy Atkins – a British soldier
    [May 1940:] [T]here was an impressive consistency of organisation and spirit in the British Expeditionary Force. The regulars had mobilised with Tommy Atkins’s traditional and cheerful indifference to the identity of the King’s enemies – or allies (“going to fight them bloody Belgiums” a Tommy had explained … in 1914) …
    – John Keegan, The Second World War
Books of record-forms, issued to British officers of early 1800s, included helpful filled-in samples. These samples often used “Thomas Atkins” as a hypothetical soldier, typically a private; a “John Doe”. In 1883 the name slipped into popular usage, and soon after was spread by Kipling’s use.
 
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When I was living in Bonn a quarter century ago, I was amused that the Germans there still referred to the British, soldiers and civilians alike, as die Tommies, while I fell into die Amis camp. In Berlin, they still referred to all of us as die Alliierte. Ah, those were the days. I went through all three checkpoints: Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I always understood that the sample with "Thomas Atkins"'s name, etc. filled in was the first page of the soldier's paybook, to show him how it should be completed.

Still, I suppose the army could have done the same in the paybook as in the forms issued to officers.


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jerrican – a flat-sided five-gallon container, usually metal, for petrol, water, etc.

Origin: In WWII a “Jerry” was a German, especially a German soldier. “The Germans had a very efficient five-gallon petrol can. The Eighth Army captured some of the cans. They were sent back to England, and the British started manufacturing them. They were called jerricans.” (Quote, from The Times, taken from OOED.)

Our quote honors Norman Mailer, who passed away yesterday.
    Every day a ration detail of three men would trudge over to the hill on which the adjacent platoon of A Company was bivouacked, and return with a box of 10-in-1 rations and two five-gallon jerricans of water. The trip was always uneventful and the men did not dislike it, for the monotony of the morning was broken and it gave them a chance to talk to someone other than the men in their squad.
    – Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
 
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The Wikipedia article offers another bit of the jerrican's history.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Yet another possible source for Limerick inspiration .... the daily words we get from WordSmith .... today's word is jerrycan ....

I'll start ...

How much water will fit in a jerrican?
The answer might come from a Derry clan.
In gallons or liters
Or inches or meters.
(This dialect's likely american)
 
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If anyone can write a good limerick at the drop of a hat then jerry can ...


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Appropriately, we have a pair of underwear. Underwear eponyms, that is!

BVDs – men’s and boys’ underwear (originally, long underwear); a tradename
(almost never seen in the singular, BVD)
[from initials of Bradley, Vorhees & Day, the firm that made them.]

jaegers – woolen underwear; a trade name (among other unrelated meanings)
[The cloth was originally made by Dr. [Gustav] Jaeger's Sanitary Woollen System Co. Ltd.]
Brits, is this term still in use?
    When did it become cool for guys to wear their jeans around their knees, exposing their BVDs?
    – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 10, 2005

    ADA: Chilly enough I imagine. I hope you put on your jaegers. Did you put on your jaegers, Henry?
    HENRY: What happened was this, I put them on and then I took them off again and then I put them on again and then I took them again off and then I took them on again and then I –
    ADA: Have you them on now?
    HENRY: I don’t know.
    – Samuel Beckett, Embers

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
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Mssrs Bradley, Vorhees & Day
Made long johns back in the day.
Initially with ease
They were called BVDs
And most people knew them that way.
 
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quote:
Brits, is this term still in use?

Not that I know of. I've run across it before, but it must have been in writing (not Beckett) rather than hearing anybody say it. I don't suppose there's much of a market for long woollen underwear nowadays. I think even polar explorers use more modern materials than wool.


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Today’s eponym comes from Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who administered a massive remodeling of much of Paris, 1853-1870, including reconfiguring the streets, creating green spaces, and building water and sanitary systems.

Haussmannize – to open out, widen, and straighten streets, and generally rebuild, after the fashion in which Haussmann rebuilt Paris

OED's definition (above) is the only one I’ve found, and makes it seem like a good thing. Others would disagree, for neighborhoods and their histories are destroyed. OED quotes an 1880s author saying, “These Attilas … of modern society …are rapidly achieving the Hausmannisation … of every mediæval city of Europe,” and, “Paris has fewer records of the feudal ages than London; and it is hopelessly Haussmannised.

A modern-day quote:
    The face of Paris … was permanently reshaped during these years by a sweeping new wave of Haussmannization. Between 1954 and 1974, 24 percent of the buildable surface of the city was subjected to demolitions and redevelopment, and entire districts were razed and reconfigured in the name of urban renewal.
    – Mark Lamster, Architecture and Film
Note: ‘Haussmannization,’ though a rare word, is a good deal more common than ‘Haussmannize’.

P.S. Good luck with this one, Jerry.
 
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City planners, uncommonly cruel,
Claim improvements will save winter fuel.
Their implementation
Of Haussmannization
Is leading to urban renewal.Cool
 
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guyot – a flat-topped submarine mountain
[named by Princeton geologist Harry Hammond Hess. Princeton’s geology building is Guyot Hall, honoring Arnold Henri Guyot (1807–1884), a Swiss-born American geologist/geographer associated with Princeton. The building is flat-roofed. It’s unclear whether Hess named 'guyots' after the man, or after the building!]
    As the sonar image grew crisper, he could make out a maze of gigantic seamounts and flat-topped guyots on the floor below. Deep canyons and troughs wound around these towering mounts. It reminded Jack of the Badlands of the American West …
    – James Rollins, Deep Fathom
 
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A review of Du Barry Was a Lady, in Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik, Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time:
    Louis Biore is infatuated with the club’s sexy singer, May Daly, … but he accidentally drinks the Mickey Finn that he had planned to give May’s boyfriend. Louis passes out, dreaming that he is King Louis XV of France and that May is Madame Du Barry.
Mickey Finn – an alcoholic drink that has been deliberately adulterated with a strong sedative or purgative
[‘Mickey’ Finn, a Chicago saloon-keeper, late 19th- early 20th cent. who drugged and robbed his customers]

Note: This is from OED, with its first cite in 1928. But apparently there had been a successful revue called "Mickey Finn" in the previous decade, and before that a series of "Mickey Finn Tales" by an Ernest Jarrold. I’ve found it as far back as 1918, and this quote, though not the earliest, explains it well.
    Ten Chicago waiters and bartenders were indicted here on chahrges [sic] growing out of an investigation of the manufacture and sale of "Mickey Finn" powders. It is alleged that the powders were used in foods of patrons who failed to tip.
    Journal Six O'Clock (Lincoln, Nebraska State Journal) July 10, 1918 1/2
 
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Louis's tale has a familiar ring
So thrilled to hear May Daly sing
Drank his own Mickey Finn
And it made his brain spin
Till he thought he was Louis the King.
 
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Today’s very-obscure word would be quite useful. But is it a word at all?

horsmandering – the act of a public official writing a books about his/her experience in office
[from the name of an 18th-century American judge who was one of the first public servants to use his records of a public experience as the basis of a full-length book]

I took this word from a thick 2004 word-book, which seems to have taken it almost verbatim from a 1952 word-book. And that in turn probably got it from a 1909 journal that comments on horsmandering as an interesting new word:
    The books have been multiplying ever since the end of the war; and now we have the word— "horsmandering." When a public official vacates his high office and then sits down to write the story of his trust and how he fulfilled it, that is horsemandering.
    America [Journal of Jesuits of the United States and Canada]
But I can’t find it in any dictionary, or in any particular usages. Query whether this is a real word, or just a case of one word-compiler copying from another at half-century intervals. Copying has been known to happen! Smile
 
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re: hors(e)mandering..

so I guess we now know why it's so difficult to find in the wild; it's a dord!

actually, it's easy to see how the mistake could be made, given the way 'n' looks like 'r' in some old texts; plus it's easier to say mandering than is mandening.
 
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Plus there's the similarity with "gerrymandering" ...


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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