It's been a while since we looked at eponyms, words from names of people. This week we'll enjoy a few.
jimson weed (or jimpson weed) – a certain noxious poisonous weed, with rank-smelling foliage and narcotic/hallucinogenic properties. A corruption of Jamestown weed.
Jamestown, Virginia, named for King James I, was the first permanent British settlement in the New World. The British troops in Jamestown suffered a comical incident in 1676, involving the weed. Here's the story.
– Robert Beverly, The History and Present State of Virginia
mow – a grimace (some sources suggest the grimace of sticking out the lower lip)This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
We started with a noxious plant named after British royalty. We counter with an attractive plant that seems to be so named – but the name is an etymological mystery.
Queen Anne's lace – a common wildflower with a large, lacy white head (8th picture here). Akin to the carrot; can be used as a garden flower.
– Sunset, November 1, 1986
... one of [Eudora] Welty's last admirers stepped forward and held out a handful of limp vegetation. I saw that the offering was wilted Queen Anne's lace from a roadside. ... As if taking orchids, she then accepted the scraggly bouquet in her left hand, admired it, and, with her right, wrote a personal message above her signature. Miss Eudora Welty-tough under fire, tender enough to turn weeds into orchids.
– Doris Betts, quoted by Wanda Butler, Southern Living, Apr. 1999
Moreover, the first known usage is in the 1890s, long after either Queen Anne, and is in the US, not in the UK.
What do you in the UK call this plant?This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
You called jimsonweed a "noxious poisonous weed" and Queen Anne's lace a "common wildflower," noting that it also sometimes called a weed.
You used noxious in the sense of "injurious to physical or mental health." But "noxious weed" also has a legal definition. The definition may vary slightly, but genererally a noxious weed is an invasive non-native plant that poses an economic or ecological threat. There may be sub-categories of noxious weed, each with its own control requirement. For example, King County, Washington has Class A , B , C , and Noxious Weeds of Concern lists. Class A weeds require eradication in King County and the State, and Class B and C weeds require control in King County. For the "Noxious Weeds of Concern" list (which incudes Daucus carota, wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace) "control recommended but not required." I've read, but haven't verified, that it is on noxious weed lists in 35 states (of the 45 states that maintain such lists).
There is also a Federal (U.S.A.) list, as well as noxious weed lists in several other countries.
Here 's an article discussing the origins of the name, Queen Anne's lace.
TinmanThis message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,
The World Carrot Museum? You couldn't make it up...
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.
quisling – a traitor to one's country, esp. one who is collaborating with occupying forces; also fig.
[Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian army officer, headed puppet government during Germany's WW II occupation of Norway; executed for treason after Germany's defeat. The word entered the language very quickly after Quisling took office. It almost immediately spawned offshoots such as 'to quisle'.]
– John le Carre, Absolute Friends
The first three Ptolemies were unusually enlightened, but later decadence set in, and the line ended with the Quisling Queen Cleopatra.
– Petr Beckmann, A History of Pi
As you may have noticed, the eponyms presented this week all come from political leaders.
Nero – a person resembling Nero, esp. in displaying cruelty, tyranny, or profligacy.
[Nero Claudius Caesar, Roman emperor A.D. 54-68]
– Mark Helprin, National Review, June 28, 2004
Molotov cocktail – an easily-made incendiary bomb: a bottle, filled with flammable liquid and stuffed with a rag wick
[Used and named by Finns in the Russo-Finnish War, 1940; served as an anti-tank weapon; named for Molotov, Soviet foreign minister]
– Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights Under the Prophet 's Banner, as quoted by Michael Scheuer in Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam & the Future of America
The cocktail is named for the Stalin's Prime Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov.
This is special, because it is an eponym of pseudonym. According to http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Vyacheslav-Molotov, it derives from the Russian "molot" or hammer.
This was a nice complement to Stalin's own pseudonym, from the Russian for steel.
Of course, future historians may be forgiven for assuming America's leaders also had pseudonyms. Who could believe "Field of Roses" had a minister "Morning Dew?" Or that their top general was "Hewer of Iron?"
(And there was the knight reputed to have struck the first blow at Hastings in 1066; Tallifer, or Cutter of Iron.)
Robert, we have missed you! Where have you been?
Fabian – of cautious delaying tactics to wear out an enemy, avoiding decisive battle
[Quintus Fabius Maximus, Roman general who used such tactics to defeat Hannibal. See our entry for 'cunctation', third item at link]
Fabian – of the Fabian Society, which aimed to reach socialism by non-revolutionary methods
It was generally agreed that it would not be wise to risk everything on a pitched battle with the [French] invaders, who still had a great preponderance of strength. It was decided instead to use Fabian tactics while recruiting more adherents and accumulating strength.
- Thomas B. Costain, The Magnificent Century
draconian – (of laws) excessively harsh
Draco, an Athenian legislator (7th century BCE) whose laws provided a death penalty for minor crimes
– Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (winner of Pulitzer Prize)