Most eponyms come from characters in literature or greek legend. Some come from real people, most of whom are Europeans.
This week we'll present eponyms from people of the USA. I am curious how many of these are familiar to our readers across the ponds.
Annie Oakley - a free ticket or pass
Ms. Oakley was sharpshooter of renown, featured in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (1860-1926). The term come from comparing a punched ticket with one of her bullet-riddled targets.
FWIW, whilst most Brits have heard of Annie Oakley, we don't use her name to describe a free ticket or pass.
"Annie Oakley," as a free pass, is very old slang. I doubt anyone over here has used that term in that sense in the last 30 or 40 years.
In fact, it isn't overly likely that the average American under the age of 40 would be able to correctly identify the woman herself.
John Hancock – a person's signature
John Hancock was the first signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence (image can be enlarged). He made his signature there very prominent: large, bold, and florid, right in the top-middle of the signature block.
This one is known (at least by me) but not used over here.
Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life ?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off ?
Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
I like it, but how does it relate to Americans Eponymous?
(random thought: "[/i]," said the Little Red Hen!)
[That doesn't relate to AE either]
Now I see. It's not part of the message, but rather of the signature! (Which, by the way, is iconified in the email program Eudora as "JH" !)
I still like the sentiment.
Idle speculation: would "Uncle Tom" or "Charley Brown" or "Mickey Mouse" qualify for this theme? Mickey-mouse is even used sometimes as a one-word adjective rather than a noun.
hab, they'd certainly qualify as eponyms, but this theme will focus on eponyms from real, non-fictional people from the USA.
In 1884 General William Tecumseh Sherman squelched a movenment to draft him for president, stating, "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve." His name is used eponymously in the press, though I do not find it in the on-line dictionaries.
Shermanesque - of an absolute, unequivocal refusal to run for office
(or sometimes, of any such refusal; see 3rd and 4th sample quotes)
During the U.S. Civil War, Sherman was also noted for his thorough, scorched-earth conquest of Atlanta (as seen in the movie Gone with the Wind). So his eponym is also used to refer to that event:
Shermanesque – brutally thorough (of a conquest)
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Fri Nov 21st, 2003 at 6:33.]
mae west - an inflatable life jacket, in the form of a collar extending down the chest.
(worn by fliers in World War II; illustrated in the seventh picture here.)
From the American actress noted for her (ahem) "full figure". I understand that in the same manner, "mae west" is also sometimes used as rhyming slang for "breast".
This being a word-board, we of course have more interest in another of Mae's assets, her talent for chiasmus.
I've never heard the terms "Mae Wests" used to denote a pair of thrupennies, I have to say.
derringer – a short-barreled pocket pistol
[Henry Deringer, Am. gunsmith of Philadelphia (1786-1868)]
The misspelling of his name, with the double-r, has become the accepted spelling. Competitors apparently created that misspelling his rights to the use of his own name, and it led to a lawsuit, Henry Deringer vs. A.J. Plate.
foley - during filmmaking, the adding of sound effects
The person who does this job is called the foley or the foley artist.
After Jack Foley (1891–1967), pioneering sound effect editor at Universal Studios in the 1930s.
You can find a brief description here. Watch the credits at the end of the next movie you see, and you'll notice foley artist credited.
...most medical personnel (and anyone who's had a significant run-in with a urologist) have a different picture of that eponym: a Foley is a catheter that stays in the urinary bladder for long periods of time. Perhaps it's the upper-case "F" that distinguishes?
[Cross-thread diversion: anagram of llindwinge ? ]
[This message was edited by haberdasher on Sun Nov 23rd, 2003 at 17:10.]
Let's end this theme with a smile:
sousaphone - a large brass wind instument, much like a tuba but shaped so that weight will rest on a shoulder and it can be more easily carried in a marching band
[named for John Philip Sousa Sousa (1854-1932), the famous marching band conductor and composer, known as "The March King"]
Here is a picture of the sousaphone. You can download a sample of Sousa's music from Wikipedia. The file is very big; shorter files are available but I cannot vouch that they are "safe".
llindwinge - indwelling
You are so right, Hab, about "Foley." My definition for "Foley" will always be urinary indwelling catheter, Wordcrafter. ; though, Hab is right that it does have a capital "f".
Come to think of it, isn't there also a Foley food mill that borders on the eponymous? Any epicures around who might verify?
That guy Foley seems to have been one versatile fellow!
The definition of an eponym is: "A person whose name is or is thought to be the source of the name of something."
Is there a term for being named for something other than a person? While that may be as clear as mud, here is what I am thinking: I heard today that something was an "Apollo 13", meaning that it was a "successful failure." Is there a term for that? It obviously isn't an eponym.
Stonewalling is a commonly used phrase her. Do you know of gerrymandering?
We hear about gerrymandering all the time, Graham. Particularly when it comes time to reconfigure districts after the census, which is taken in every year ending in zero.
Yes, and the interesting story (including painter Gilbert Stuart) behind it is here.
In looking for the definition of "peruse," I found this page of eponyms.
Annie Oakley," as a free pass, is very old slang. I doubt anyone over here has used
that term in that sense in the last 30 or 40 years.
Like, dude, didn't she invent sunglasses?