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5 Comments

  • We might quibble a little about which examples to put in the well known list and which not. For example, I expect the origin of “sandwich” is considerably more famous than that of “boycott”. But that argument could go on indefinitely.

    I’m trying to think of eponymous terms used here in Australia but not elsewhere in the English-speaking world. There are some generic brand names, such as “texta” for certain kinds of marker pen, and the Wikipedia page reminds me of “esky” (cooler) among others. And of course we have our share of geographical locations and biological species that are named after people.

    I take a quiet pleasure in knowing that a reply to my comment ofhelped inspire another blog post.

  • Adrian: Thanks for indirectly inspiring this week’s post! Yes, sandwich is probably better known as an eponym than my article suggested, and boycott‘s eponymous origin might be disproportionately familiar in my part of the world. I didn’t know about textas; we call them markers here, or occasionally felt-tip pens. Sellotape is a very common eponym in Ireland (though the usage isn’t peculiarly Irish or anything). I seldom hear anyone call it sticky tape or adhesive tape.

  • Over here, the term “felt-tipped pen” refers only to the kind that has a very thin tip and is considered suitable (even slightly prestigious, compared to the biro) for adults to write with. The prototypical “texta” has a medium tip and is associated with childrens’ multi-coloured drawings. And at the thick-tipped end of the spectrum, there’s the “marker [pen]”, suitable for writing outdoor display signs among other things.

    Some of these boundaries are more fluid than others. We sometimes use “texta” to mean a thick-tipped marker pen, but I’ve only ever heard one person claim to have heard “texta” used for the precision instrument I’d call a felt-tipped pen.

  • […] An eponymous kind of fame provides an overview of eponyms that mentions some of their inspirations and the areas of language in which they tend to arise: The origins of some eponyms are well known, such as boycott from Charles Boycott and mesmerise from Franz Mesmer. Others are less obvious. Sandwich, panic, silhouette, algorithm and nicotine all derive from proper nouns: John Montagu (4th Earl of Sandwich), Pan (Greek god), Etienne de Silhouette (French finance minister), al-Khwārizmī (Persian mathematician) and Jean Nicot (French diplomat who inspired the formal plant name Nicotiana). […]