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We've just now completed a theme of eponyms (words from person- or character-names), so it's natural to continue with a theme of toponyms (words from place-names). We ended with a cat-word eponym, tomcat, so let's now begin with a cat-word toponym.

tabby1. silk taffeta (originally striped), esp. with a moiré finish 2. a striped or brindled cat; or a she-cat (further, obscure meanings are omitted)
[After the Attabiya district of Baghdad where the taffeta was made; the district is in turn named after a character named Attab. The striped cat is thought to be named for the fabric and she-cat perhaps from combining the stripped cat with the female name Tabby, short for Tabitha.]

Bonus word: taffeta – a fine crisp lustrous fabric [from Persian for 'to shine'; but see quote]
    The name [taffeta], derived from Persian, means “twisted woven.” Taffeta is in the same class and demand as satin made of silk. The cloth is made of a plain or tabby weave, and the textures vary considerably. … Piece-dyed taffeta is often used in linings and is quite soft. Yarn-dyed taffeta is much stiffer and is often used in evening dresses. Taffeta is also used in ribbons, umbrellas, and some electrical insulation.
    – Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition

    Leah said we had to name it Ricky Ticky Tabby but no sir, it's mine and I'm a-calling it Stuart Little.
    – Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
 
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Funny, I've always thought that toponym simply referred to placenames, but I see it also means words derived from toponyms. Seems like that should be toponymanyms. Wink


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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tarantula – a large black wolf spider of southern Europe (or similar hairy spiders of the Americas)
[after the Italian seaport of Taranto; the spiders are prevalent in that region]
tarantism – a disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance [at one time prevalent in the Taranto region, and thought to be caused by the tarantula's bite]
tarantella – rapid whirling South Italian dance, once thought to be the sovereign remedy for tarantism
[Note: in this context, sovereign means "of the utmost potency".]
    And all of these bodies and plates were compelled to move by the convection currents in the earth below, currents that are churning ceaselessly and that are making the plates execute these unending mazurkas and tarantellas up above on the mantle top.
    –Simon Winchester, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by wordcrafter:

tarantism – a disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance [at one time prevalent in the Taranto region, and thought to be caused by the tarantula's bite]

Tarantism has an interesting and ancient history. The earliest mention of tarantismus is found in the works of Nicolas Perotti, who died in 1480. It was generally regarded as an hysterical illness.
Remarkable epidemics of dancing mania were called chorea.
Choreia in Greek meant a dance, usually joyful. The word was used to describe the epidemic outbreak in 1418, when sufferers were regarded as hysterics. They were 'enjoined to repair to the chapels of St. Vitus' at Zabern near Strasbourg to plead for the Saint’s intervention. A Sicilian martyr under Diocletian (AD 303), St. Vitus’s remains were moved to France, and, because he was patron of dancers and actors, his altar was used to seek relief from the dancing plague.
The 'dancing mania' was a source of great terror: Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) refers to
Chorus Sancti Viti...- they that are taken with it can do nothing but dance till they be dead, or cured.”
Sufferers in a later outbreak were named The 'Jumping Frenchmen of Maine’, described by Dr George Beard in 1878.

There are now of course many other jerky involuntary movements, usually caused by organic brain disease. The commonest type of chorea—Sydenham's chorea, often associated with rheumatic fever, has almost disappeared in Western countries.
 
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The popular belief was that Tarantism was caused by a tarantula's bite, but it was really caused by ergotism, a result of eating grains, principally rye, that had been infested with the ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea. The fungus produces a number of poisons, including d-lysergic acid amide (natural LSD) which can cause hallucinations and other symptoms. Claviceps purpurea was Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for October 1999. Waynes's Word also has a good article on ergot.

Tinman

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I'm sorry, but I can't read the above post without thinking that Tom Volk needs a social life.
 
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Oh, you are so right, Sean! Big Grin
 
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Tee hee! Smile

My brother-in-law is a keen amateur mycologist, and I confess I've thought the same thing myself about his hobby. Since I've recommended this site to him in the past I won't say more in case he's lurking. Wink


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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A special type of water well is named after the French province of Artois, in which it was first bored. We give examples of literal and figurative uses.

artesianof a well or spring: with water rising spontaneously to the surface, due to underground pressure [as a result of the water-pocket lying at an angle]
    … the enemy were resisting firmly, in bomb-proof trenches with a new artesian well.
    – T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

    My physical, mental, and spiritual life is like an artesian well – always full and overflowing.
    – L. B. Cowman, James Reimann, Streams in the Desert
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by tinman:
The popular belief was that Tarantism was caused by a tarantula's bite, but it was really caused by ergotism, a result of eating grains, principally rye, that had been infested with the ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea.
The LSD and ergot alkaloids from claviceps purpurea causes manic, psychosis, delirium, intense burning of the skin (hence 'St Anthony's fire') crawling sensations of the skin, vertigo, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. I would be doubtful if it caused tarantism as strictly defined, though motor restlessness, fidgetting and tics might be part of the picture, and may have figured in the Witches of Salem epidemic— 'The dancing witches of Maine'. There's good historical evidence that most epidemics of tarantism or epidemic chorea were probably of hysterical origin.
 
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Geologists are possibly the heaviest users of toponyms, as rock formations and portions of the geologic time scale by convention are named after the places (cities, counties, rivers, etc.) where the units were first described. Some examples:

Rock units:
Chattanooga Shale
Holston Limestone
Tuscarora Sandstone
Knox Group

Geologic time:
Cambrian: 542 - 488 million years ago (MYA)
Oxfordian: 161 - 156 MYA
Maastrichtian: 70.6 - 65.5 MYA
Wisconsinan: 130-10 thousand years ago
 
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Very interesting, LlamaLady. You piqued my curiousity, and I found a chart breaking the Paleozoic Era into seven subperiods, of which four are obvious toponyms. As to the others: the 2nd and 3rd (from the left) are named for ancient welsh tribes; the last is for Perm, a region in Russia.

This just covers the Paleozoic Era. Can someone find like data for other geologic eras?
 
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Stepford – robotically conformist and compliant; attractive but without individuality, emotion, or thought

[From the fictional suburb in The Stepford Wives, a 1972 book and later movie. In this superficially idyllic suburb the wives are eerily content zombies in "traditional" roles. But the secret is that the men have replaced their wives with obedient robots.]
    Who won?
    Who knows?
    … Messrs. Bush and Gore proved beyond doubt that no matter who's elected, thanks to an innovative political alchemy that turns a living human being into an exact facsimile completely devoid of spontaneity, the U.S. will have its first Stepford President.
    – Alan Abelson, Barron's, Oct. 9, 2000, on a debate between presidential candidates
 
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It is June 1859. Two decisive battles at the Italian towns of Magenta and Solferino bring an end to the war between the French and Austrians. With those town-names in the news, merchants soon seize upon them for advertising. (Similarly, a century later, the bikini swimsuit was named for Bikini Atoll, site of a then-recent A-bomb test.) Many 1859 ads (antedating OED) use those town-names for shawls and cloth, but it's unclear if they mean a style, a color, etc. Here's the earliest I've found:
    A dry goods house in New York advertises "Magenta Long Shawls," and a Richmond eating shop announces that it serves up "Solferino Soup."
    – Wisconsin Daily Patriot, Aug. 5, 1859
In any event, the names eventually settled into use to name and advertise new colors of fashion, from colorful dyes that chemists had just then begun to produce from coal tar.

solferino – a bright crimson dye; its color
magenta – a deep purplish-red dye (chemical name: fuchsine); its color

There is some confusion of precisely what color is magenta. Some dictionaries have it shading more to purple than to red; some call it light rather than deep; and on the web you can find magenta used to describe quite different colors (contrast this with this). My reading is that the term now means a strong color, more red than purple, that may be dark or pale.

The web leaves me unclear as to who named the color. Clearly fuchsine was named by Frenchman Emmanuel Verguin, who developed a production process for it. But it may be that Englishman Edward Nicholson discovered another production process and gave fuchsine the marketing name magenta.

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quote:
Originally posted by Seanahan:
I'm sorry, but I can't read the above post without thinking that Tom Volk needs a social life.

Don't knock it. Your passion is words. His is fungi.

Tinman
 
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How right you are. I have seen the looks on some people's faces when I have enthusiastically told them about epicaricacy. Roll Eyes
 
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The Boston fern is a familiar plant. It's obviously named for the city of Boston – but it might just as well have been the Philadelphia fern, for it was first found in a Philadelphia grower's shipment to Boston.

Ferns were a major part of home décor throughout Victorian times, which meant there was an industry to produce and distribute them.
    Nurserymen discovered the sword fern, sometimes called the Florida wild fern, during the late 1800s. Put this plant in a pot inside a building, and soon fronds enlarge to 3 feet or more of draping loveliness. … Easily propagated …, this fern quickly became the most popular houseplant of the Northeast.

    In 1894, a Philadelphia grower sent 50,000 plants to a Boston distributor. They were so different that for two years they were considered a different species. By 1896 it was decided that [it] was merely a sport of the wild Florida native,… so that greenhouse variety became Nephrolepis exaltata cv. 'Bostoniensis,' or simply speaking, Boston fern.
    – Ocala.com, The Ocala (Florida) Star-Banner, July 30, 2005
 
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The Algonquin Indians named one of their tribes with their word meaning 'round foot'. Shipley explains, "The Wolf tribe in New York was called in scorn by other Algonquians "round foot", implying that they easily fell down in surrender." (This would be similar to our adjective 'round heels' for a woman or a pugilist [that is, a boxer] who is [ahem] "easily put on his or her back".) Others, however, say that 'round foot' simply meant the wolf, the totemic animal of the tribe.

One way or another, the 'round foot' became the Indian name for the tribe and, naturally, for the region and lake where the tribe dwelt. The English-speaking settlers took the same Indian name, in anglicized form, for the region and in two towns founded there.

Much later a posh and exclusive club for the ultra-rich was located there, and in the 1880s a new style of dinner jacket, without tails, was introduced in that club and became popular there. The club was named for the region, and the jacket for the club. Thus all trace back to the original Indian name of the region and tribe.

That Indian word for 'round foot' was tuksit or p'tuksit. When anglicized, tuksit became the names of the towns of Tuxedo and Tuxedo Park, of the Tuxedo Club there, and of the tuxedo jacket popularized in that club. Thus, a man wearing a tuxedo is a wolf etymologically, as he may well be in conduct!

Bonus words:
pugilist
– a boxer
round-heels1. of a woman: of easy virtue 2. of a pugilist: having a glass jaw
 
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quote:
Originally posted by LlamaLadySG:
Geologists are possibly the heaviest users of toponyms, as rock formations and portions of the geologic time scale by convention are named after the places (cities, counties, rivers, etc.) where the units were first described.

An example in Washington is the Mima Mounds in Mima Prairie near Littlerock, just south of Olympia.

Tinman
 
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