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This week we'll look at some eponyms – words derived from people's names - and we begin with an obscure one.

It also fits last week's theme. In last year's national spelling bee two spellers fell in the 18th round, leaving one champion. They missed on our recent word trouvaille, and on today's word.

Roscian – eminent as an actor (or actress)
After Quintus Roscius Gallus, eminent comic actor, noted in the works of his friend Cicero. Shakespeare mentions Roscius twice, in King Henry VI iii (What scene of death hath Roscius now to act?) and in Hamlet.
    So, the making of a great actor is not so much a matter of "talent" … but the presence of a psychological need so powerful that the would-be Roscian surmounts all obstacles …
    – Marvin Kaye, ed. and contributor, in The Game Is Afoot: Parodies, Pastiches and Ponderings of Sherlock Holmes
(Yesterday's hard-to-spell word is spelled semelfactive.)
 
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We follow with a second word pertaining to acting. It is much more familiar, but you might not have known it is an eponym.

thespian – an actor or actress; also, related to drama and the theater
[After Thespis, the traditional father of Greek drama]
    Lydia replied self-rightiously, "I have no say in the nature of men. ... If you do not choose to believe what is a verifiable truth, 'tis your folly, not mine," and, with the timing of a true thespian, she then rose and quitted the room.
    – Linda Berdoll, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues
As those familiar with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice may infer, Lydia is discussing marital matters much more explicitly than Miss Austen would permit.
 
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Mutt and Jeff – a pair of comically mismatched people, esp. one tall and one short; also, a pair of lovable losers
[from the title characters in the early-20th century comic strip by Bud Fisher]
    Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert … Long after … highbrow critics made reviewing movies an art form, this Mutt and Jeff duo, through their nationally syndicated television program, made it a spectator sport.
    – Robert E. Schnakenberg, St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture

    Oh, sure. Jon and I are a regular dynamic duo – the Mutt and Jeff of the espionage business.
    – Patrick Larkin, Robert Ludlum, The Moscow Vector
 
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I've been aware of this phrase as rhyming slang for "deaf". It's widely used in the sarf of England, as far as I know. I've never considered its spelling, though I would probably have spelled the first bit as "mutton".
 
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I would probably have spelled the first bit as "mutton"
Yes. The usual form is "mutton", although the long-form is "Mutt and Jeff". Smile


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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Nice to see you here again, Royston. Now...stay awhile. Wink
 
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Over 63 million votes were cast to determine the winner, announced yesterday, of the American Idol television show. So it seems fitting to announce a show-business award today.

Oscar(tradename) each of the annual movie awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

After a gentleman named Oscar Pierce, who had nothing to do with the matter. The name is from a 1931 remark by Margaret Herrick, librarian at the Academy, who commented that the statute reminded her of her Uncle Oscar.
 
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A reader who sometimes helps me with words-a-day has convinced me that I was overly shy in omitting this quote illustrating Mutt and Jeff.

    And now I open my eyes, look down at my breasts. Well, there they are, old Mutt and Jeff. Flat as pancakes.
    – Elizabeth Berg, Open House: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
 
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Over 63 million votes were cast to determine the winner, announced yesterday, of the American Idol television show.

How does that compare with the number who voted for the US President?


Richard English
 
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How does that compare with the number who voted for the US President?

By popular vote, Bush got 60,693,281 votes, while Kerry got 57,355,978 votes. Total votes cast: 122,295,345. 177.3 million were registered to vote. (Info from FEC Federal Election Commission, and this, too.)

US population is approximately 298,444,215 (in July 2006, according to the CIA).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Originally posted by zmjezhd:
US population is approximately 298,444,215 (in July 2006, according to the CIA).


What a miraculous CIA stat!!!
What means are they to employ to arrest births and deaths between now and July 2006? Wink
 
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By popular vote, Bush got 60,693,281 votes, while Kerry got 57,355,978 votes.

What does it say about the US political system (or its voters) that more voted for an empheral entertainer than voted for holder of the most powerful post in the world.

Mind you, I don't suppose the results would be all that different in any democracy that had a free and voluntary vote.

In Iraq, the last election that Saddam Hussein stood for had a turnout of about 99%. That he was the only candidate and thus an election was not needed, serves only to show the irony of the situation. That and the fact that it was criminal offence not to vote...


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by pearce:
quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
US population is approximately 298,444,215 (in July 2006, according to the CIA).


What a miraculous CIA stat!!!
What means are they to employ to arrest births and deaths between now and July 2006? Wink


I rather like this novel use of the word "approximately".
 
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What does it say about the US political system (or its voters) that more voted for an empheral entertainer than voted for holder of the most powerful post in the world.
Uh, not so. On the choice of the entertainer about 63 million voted, while on the choice of the president about 118 million voted (roughly half for each candidate).
 
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oersted – the unit in which magnetic-field intensity is measured
[after Hans Christian Oersted, Danish physicist (1777–1851)]

The word 'oersted' was a spelling challenge featured in the movie Akeelah and the Bee, last week's theme.

It is also is an example of a class of eponyms: units of measurement. Apart form the familiar units for length, weight, time and temperature, almost all units of measure are eponyms. Familiar examples are the ampere, volt, and watt (French physicist André Marie Ampère; Italian physicist Count Alessandro Volta; and Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt.) A list of over three dozen can be found at the bottom of Wordcraft's Eponyms page.
 
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What does it say about the US political system (or its voters) that more voted for an empheral entertainer than voted for holder of the most powerful post in the world.

That we would rather have a multiple party system with popular vote, instead of an electoral college system with two parties? Also, we don't know how many of the people who voted for the pop singer also vote in the elections. There might be no overlap, since more 50% of the people who can vote, do.

I rather like this novel use of the word "approximately".

And, I thought it was a new "meaning" of is that I had discovered. I suppose that I could've typed will be instead of is approximately. Either way it would be an estimate on the CIA's part. A projection.

[fixed typo]

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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tontine – an investment fund in which the income is divided amoung those contributors still alive, with the principal going to the last survivor
[After Lorenzo Tonti, a Neapolitan banker, who initiated the scheme in France c 1653.
tontines were formed for building houses, hotels, baths, etc.]
    The problem these days is living too long. Pensioners have to live off the fixed income … . Even with only modest inflation, this income falls in value every year. The lot of the aged is therefore one of creeping poverty. The Prudential … is about to launch an annuity based on the tontine principle - which will pay survivors more as other members of the scheme die off. The tontine, in effect, provides insurance for old age.
    – Edward Chancellor, The Spectator, March 24, 2001
 
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Tontine was used in a Simpsons episode. Mr. Burns, with a group of soldiers, including Grandpa and a brutish looking fellow named Ox, found some Nazi treasure. Mr. Burns suggested a tontine, and the only one who knew what what that meant was Ox, which turned out to be short for "Oxford". Funny stuff.
 
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And, I thought it was a new "meaning" of is that I had discovered.

Much like Bill Clinton, right? Wink

The fact is, I never did understand all the folderol about his saying it all depends on what you mean by the word is. I suspect he, much like I am, is a literalist. I could completely relate to what he said, whereas most everyone else thought it was ridiculous.
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
oersted – the unit in which magnetic-field intensity is measured
[after Hans Christian Oersted, Danish physicist (1777–1851)]


From Andrew's high school physics textbook:

F = BILsinØ.....where F is the magnetic force in newtons (N), B is the magnetic field strength in Tesla (T)..... Confused

Andrew says that if there is a difference between intensity and strength, he'll eat his hat! I gotta see THAT! Eek

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I think I have the distinction Duncan seeks, but can we get a reply by someone more assured of his physics than I am? Thanks.
 
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In 1760 there appeared an anonymous work titled ‘The Life and Adventures of a Cat’. The protaganist was a cat of course, specifically a male cat named Tom and frequently called 'Tom the Cat'. The work became quite popular, and from it 'Tom' became a name commonly used for a male cat. Previously a male cat had been called a gib or gib-cat (which itself may be an eponym, from 'Gilbert') or a ram cat.)

tomcat – a male cat (to tomcat: [of a man] to pursue women promiscuously)
    I think the only reason [New Orleans] got that [wicked] reputation was because of those old girls who lived in tiny houses called cribs . … Those girls must have known that they'd never do business with anybody except seamen and trash and country boys on a toot. When big spenders went tomcatting in the thirties they wanted privacy and soft pink lampshades ...
    – Joe David Brown and Peter Bogdanovich, Paper Moon
Bonus word:
crib
– a small abode; a tiny room; also, a saloon, 'dive', or brothel
 
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According to this article on magnetic flux density, B, the magentic field, is measured in teslas. A tesla is a unit "to define the intensity (density) of a magnetic field". So, I'm not so sure about intensity and strength, (many common words have specialized and limited meanings in the sciences) but density!? According to this article "In physics, the word "intensity" is not synonymous with "strength", "amplitude", or "level", as it sometimes is in colloquial speech. For example, "the intensity of pressure" is meaningless as the parameters of those variables do not match."


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I had a look at your eponym page. I have an addition: Mohorovicic Discontinuity or "Mojo" - the boundary between the Earth's crust and upper mantle, named for Andrija Mohorovičić, a Croatian seismologist, who identified this feature in 1909.
 
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Originally posted by LlamaLadySG:
I had a look at your eponym page. I have an addition: Mohorovicic Discontinuity or "Mojo" - the boundary between the Earth's crust and upper mantle, named for Andrija Mohorovičić, a Croatian seismologist, who identified this feature in 1909.


I once read that there was a tentative plan to drill down there in hopes of some scientific discovery....they were gonna call it a "mohole".
 
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Reviving a thread...

Hey, where has Duncan been?

Shu and I read about "Ferberize" today, and neither of us had heard of it. Apparently a Dr. Richard Ferber wrote a book in 1985 about solving kids' sleep problems, and Ferber's method involves letting babies cry for gradually longer periods...thus the term. Parents apparently talk about "Ferberizing" their kids or "Never Ferberizing" their kids. Have you heard it?
 
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Here is one that caught me by surprise when I misspelled it:

fuchsia
"red color," 1923, from the plant, which was named 1753 from the Latinized name of Ger. botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-66).


Myth Jellies
Cerebroplegia--the cure is within our grasp
 
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I hadn't known that one either. I love the color fuchsia.

Interesting name, that Leonhard Fuchs. I used to know a Lenny Fuchs in college, and his family pronounced it "FOX." I wonder why. Wink
 
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I would imagine the "ch" in Fuchs is the same as in Bach.
 
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I once worked with a Miss Koch, and the first time I spoke her name I gave it the German pronuciation with the ch /x/ as in Bach, i.e., /kox/. I learned that she pronounced it like the English word cook. The mayor of New York by the same name pronounced it with the ch as in church /katʃ/.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Myth Jellies:
Here is one that caught me by surprise when I misspelled it:

fuchsia
"red color," 1923, from the plant, which was named 1753 from the Latinized name of Ger. botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-66).

Fuchs was interesting. To gain knowledge of plants, he recommended the study of nature. His work "De historia stirpium commentarii" , published in Basle, 1542, belongs to the classical works of botanical literature. The plant species were listed in alphabetical order. The South American Onagracean genus Fuchsia is called after him. (http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-online/e01/01d.htm.
I have a small and modest collection in my garden, but there are about 1000 different varieties.
Fuchs named the plant Digitalis , the principal drug used for treating heart failure fro many years, recommending it "for the scattering of dropsy."
As our American friends might say: "Quite a guy".
 
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In The Times today was a reference to a paper on incontinence that appeared in 1979 and was written by A J Splatt and D Weedon.

By coincidence (looking at the previous posting) this was in an article about Carl Linnaeus, the inventor of the modern classification system for plant species.


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
In The Times today was a reference to a paper on incontinence that appeared in 1979 and was written by A J Splatt and D Weedon.

By coincidence (looking at the previous posting) this was in an article about Carl Linnaeus, the inventor of the modern classification system for plant species.


No coincidence; they were both quoted as examples of nominative determinism (aptronyms: see posts Jan 2006), Linnaeus's name derived from the Swedish for Linden tree. Actually, Linnaeus also classified about 4400 animal species as well as our beloved plants. http://www.linnean.org/index.php?id=47
 
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The concidence was merely that we and The Times had chosen to write about similar topics. Good company ;-)


Richard English
 
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