Sorry about the delay, folks. We'll catch up.
Our last word, "pooh-bah," comes from the name of a character in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. This week let's enjoy some further eponyms -- words from names -- taken from dramatis personae.* Some will be familiar words, but unfamiliar histories.
It suprises me that very few of Shakespeare's characters have become eponyms in our language. Romeo is the only common one; as a quiz for our readers, what are other eponyms from Shakespeare's characters? I'm aware of three, only one of which is in reasonably common use. (tsuwm, I'm sure you know, so please hold back to give the others a chance. )
dundrearies – long, flowing sideburns
from Lord Dundreary, witless, indolent chief character in Our American Cousin (1858) by Tom Taylor of England. Actor E. A. Sothern played the role wearing such whiskers.
US President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching this play.
*Bonus word: dramatis personae - the characters in a drama or play
(Some sources include the actors as well; some include the characters in a story, not merely a drama for the stage.)
Beginning our catch-up:
lothario; Lothario – a lady-killer (in the romantic sense: a man who seduces women)
After Lothario, a principal character in The Fair Penitent by Nicholas Rowe
Interestingly, the sources date the play to 1703 but the eponymous word to 1756. I find it hard to believe that the play remained popular for 53 years, or that the word suddenly popped up fifty-odd years after the play ended its performance run. I'd suspect that even before 1756 the word was in spoken use, and perhaps in written uses not yet found.
Puckish? I'm not sure if the character is named after the word or the word after the character.
scaramouche; scaramouch – a cowardly buffoon
[This comes from the name of a boastful, cowardly stock character name in the Italian commedia dell'arte. He is a burlesque of a Spanish don.]
Ohh, thank you so much wordcrafter. I really wanted "Scaramouche, scaramouche, can you do the fandango/Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening" running thru my head for ever.
Sing with me, folks "Galileo, galileo, figaro, magnificoooooooo"
Let's follow yesterday's comic character, Scaramouche, with another one.
Mickey Mouse –
1. unimportant, trivial: a Mickey Mouse operation; a Mickey Mouse course;
2. irritatingly petty: Mickey Mouse regulations
After the Disney character
Sorry, WB; my sources date that use of "puck" back well before Shakespeare. But since no one's progressed on the Shakespeare quiz, let's put one of those words here, saving the others for a future thread to quiz a future audience.
From the character Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice; it is relevant to the quotations to know that the character is jewish:
shylock - offensive:
a ruthless moneylender; a loan shark
verb: to lend money at exorbitant interest rates.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sat Sep 6th, 2003 at 12:39.]
What could be worse than a thrasonical ignoramus?
thrasonical – boastful, bragging, vainglorious
[After Thraso, a braggart soldier in the comedy Eunuchus by Terence, ~195-159 B.C.].
ignoramus – an utterly ignorant person; a dunce (some sources add the concept of posturing: "a vain pretender to knowledge")
Originally a word of law: when a grand jury considered the prosecution's evidence insufficient, its verdict was L. ignoramus "we do not know" (which is cognate to our ignore). Sense of "ignorant person" came from the title role of George Ruggle's 1615 play satirizing the ignorance of common lawyers.
Shakespeare has some fun with thrasonical.