Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Eponyms from Shakespeare
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Eponyms from Shakespeare Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted
This week we'll look at eponyms from Shakespeare. Unsurprisingly, many characters of so prominent an author have been used as eponyms. The surprise is how few of those eponyms have become well known. Often it is hard to tell if the name is being used as an eponym, or simply as a literary reference.

Shakespeare uses yesterday's word moon-calf three times, all in The Tempest. All refer to his character Caliban, is 'a salvage and deformed slave' (Dram. Personæ), who gives us our first Shakespearean eponym.

Caliban – a man of degraded bestial nature
There seems to be a sense of ‘ill-combined contradictory parts, as in our first two quotes.
    … the production turns out, like Caliban, to be an indefinable mooncalf: neither fish nor fowl.
    – Atlanta Constitution, July 26, 1992

    A tragic, ruined figure, Wenceslas emerges from the chronicles a kind of Caliban, half clownish, half vicious, a composite of half-truths and legends …
    – Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, speaking of Wenceslas IV of Bohemia (1361 – 1419)

    Sometime early that evening Oppenheimer climbed the tower to perform a final ritual inspection. There before him crouched his handiwork. Its bandages had been removed and it was now hung with insulated wires that looped from junction boxes to the detonator plugs that studded its dark bulk, an exterior ugly as Caliban's. His duty was almost done.
    – Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Wouldn’t this be a useful word?

Dogberry – an ignorant, self-important official
[From the name of a foolish constable in Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. Note: I would add that he is typically of the police force or the like. Congressmen are often ignorant and self-important, but you would not call them Dogberries.]
    Criminals … were becoming very clever indeed - so clever that the old Dogberries and flatfoots of the traditional British law had no hope of catching them.
    – John Sutherland: Introduction to Armadale (Penguin Classics) by Wilkie Collins

    The overall effect … was to allow a horde of petty functionaries to decide without any legal guidelines on one of the highest matters of state: precisely who in this civil war was loyal or disloyal. … Stanton saw Turner’s role as one of scheduling trials by military commission rather that riding heard on the Dogberries unleashed across the land.
    – Mark E. Neely, The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of bethree5
posted Hide Post
This reminds me of 'Barney', Don Knotts' deputy to the sheriff, on the old Andy Griffith Show-- a dogberry from Mayberry.
 
Posts: 2050 | Location: As they say at 101.5FM: Not New York... Not Philadelphia... PROUD TO BE NEW JERSEY!Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
It's similar to a "jobsworth". He's a petty official who delights in sticking to the letter of the law. When asked to apply a little commonsense he'll (it's almost always a man) suck his teeth and reply "Ooh, can't do that. It's more than me job's worth!"


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.
 
Posts: 10930 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordmatic
posted Hide Post
A Capulet is the same thing as a Capellet, according to Webster's. And a Capellet is "A swelling, like a wen, on the point of the elbow (or the heel of the hock) of a horse, caused probably by bruises in lying down."

So did this veterinary condition take its name from Juliet's family?

Sounds painful.

Wordmatic
 
Posts: 1390 | Location: Near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Today, another useful word that no one ever seems to use. (I can't find any example later than the 19th century.)

benedict – a newly married man; esp. an apparently confirmed bachelor who marries. [From the character of that name in Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.]
    I allude, of course, to the periodic incursions made by Mothers-in-law into the homes of their helpless children. … I may add that, as a Benedict of ten years' standing, and having had the advantage of three distinct Mothers-in-law, my experience of these pests is very extensive.
    – Punch, Oct. 10, 1874 (letter)

    Laura L. White, A Would-be Benedict, in The Overland Monthly, vol. VIII 1872:
    Obadiah Fuller was courting the Widow Blain in earnest: he was unceasingly courting someone in earnest. The "sad satiety" of love had never come to him, because, ere he reached its fruit and flower, the untimely frost of a rejection by its over-sensitive object nipped his hopes, but the stolid insensibility which in nearly every case provoked the dismissal, also prevented and great degree of disappointment and suffering.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of pearce
posted Hide Post
[QUOTE]Originally posted by wordcrafter:
benedict – a newly married man; esp. an apparently confirmed bachelor who marries. [From the character of that name in Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing[QUOTE]

What a lovely word.
Of course Shakespeare's usage in this context was probably original (always a dangerous assertion), but stemming from Latin: [I]bene dicere
the words benedict and benedicite were used as early as the 14th century, variously expressing praise, blessing or astonishment (cf. Good gracious).
It is arguable what that has to do with the decision of a confirmed bachelor to marry.
 
Posts: 424 | Location: Yorkshire, EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of jerry thomas
posted Hide Post
Ave Maria
Gratia Plena
Dominus tecum
Benedicta* tu in mulierebus
et benedictus*
fructus ventris tu Jesu ...

* blessed
 
Posts: 6710 | Location: Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S.A.Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
et benedictus* fructus ventris tu Jesu ...

... fructus ventris tui, Jesus ...


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of jerry thomas
posted Hide Post
Et benedictus tu, zmjezd.

(( Did you ever find out why they gave that kid a Mexican name ?? ))
 
Posts: 6710 | Location: Kehena Beach, Hawaii, U.S.A.Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
Et benedictus tu, zmjezd.

Blessed, I am not; blasted, perhaps.

Mexican name.

I had a friend in high school named Jesus. When I saw him at the 30th year reunion, I was the only person calling him that. He had since moved on to Jesse.

Bene dicere means literally 'to speak well (of)'. Male dicere is 'to speak bad (of)'. Beatus is 'blessed'. Yields our beatified.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Othello – trade-name for a certain board game (generically, reversi)
Players take turns placing pieces which are black on one side and white on the other, each placing with his color showing on top. With certain moves, a play may "flip" some of his opponent's pieces, converting them from the opponents color to his own. So with a flip, the fortunes of the game can change quickly.

Why was the game was named for Shakespeare's tragedy? There are at least three different views. I find the first the most convincing.
    When Japanese salesman Goro Hasegawa … invented his simple board game in 1971, his father, a Shakespearean scholar, duly noted that the appeal of the game was based on a series of 'dramatic reversals'. Perhaps, he suggested, it should be called Othello.
    – Time, Nov. 22, 1976; cited by OED

    referencing the conflict between the Moor Othello and Iago, who describes himself as "two faced"
    wikipedia

    or more controversially, to the marriage between Othello, who is black, and Desdemona, who is white, recalling the coloring of the game pieces
    – wikipedia
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Portia – a female advocate or barrister.
[from Portia, the name of the heroine of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. And very rarely used, as far as I can tell.]
    A female writer in the Great Bend (KA) Tribune, May 15, 1975:
    Today I sit the bench as a pinch-hitting Portia in judgment of the woman who held a burglar at gunpoint until the police could answer her call: Madame, you threatened the life of a defenseless, underprivileged thief.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
quote:
Portia – a female advocate or barrister...And very rarely used

Except that, unknown to many, her name is almost the exact pronunciation of the name of Germany's most famous sports car - the Porsche.


Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
unknown to many

Unless you've seen the movie A Fish Called Wanda or read, discussed, or seen the play The Merchant of Venice. But common mispronunciations of proper names is both fun and funny: the Irish form of Catherine, i.e., Caitlin (which used to be pronounced similar to Cathleen) has given rise to new spellings, e.g., Catelyn, Katelin.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5085 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Or watched Rumpole of the Bailey.
 
Posts: 1245 | Location: San FranciscoReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
So far, all of our Shakespearian eponyms have been obscure words. There’s only one such eponym that is familiar enough to be used in everyday speech – as in the example below.

Romeo – a lover, a passionate admirer; a seducer, a habitual pursuer of women
[from the name of the hero of Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet]

How odd. This definition, by OED, would encompass a female “lover” or “admirer” or “seducer”. But a Romeo is always a male, of course. Were the OED editors of the view that only a male can be a “seducer,” etc.?
    All day long I hear my telephone ring
    Friends calling giving their advice
    From the boy I love I should break away
    'Cause heartaches he'll bring one day
    I lost him once through friends advice
    But it's not gonna happen twice.

    How can Mary tell me what to do
    When she lost her love so true?
    And Flo, she don't know
    'Cause the boy she loves is a Romeo?
    – The Supremes, Back in My Arms Again
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
from Prospero, the name of the magician in Shakespeare's Tempest:

Prospero – a person or thing like Prospero, esp. in being capable of magic or of influencing others' behaviour or perceptions without their knowledge
    He ruled the village like a whimsical Prospero. He didn't simply live in the village, he owned it …
    – Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    – Brian W. Aldiss, British author, speaking of H. G. Wells:
    The Prospero of all the brave new worlds of the mind, and the Shakespeare of science fiction.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Eponyms from Shakespeare

Copyright © 2002-12