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An eponym is a person, place, or thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives derived from eponym include eponymous and eponymic.


Word usage
The word is used in different ways. In the most frequently cited meaning, an eponym ( ἐπώνυμος ( a.) given as a name, ( b.) giving one's name to a thing or person, ἐπί upon + ὄνομα, ὄνυμα name) is a person, place, or thing after whom or after which something is named, or believed to be named. In this way, Elizabeth I of England is the eponym of the . If is referred to as "the eponymous founder of the Ford Motor Company", either Henry Ford himself, or his name "Ford" could be called the eponym. The term can also refer to a creative work named after a fictional character (who is then also the titular character, such as of the Rocky film series), or to works named after their creators (such as the album The Doors, created by the band , which is then also called a self-titled album).


History
Periods have often been named after a ruler or other influential figure:
  • One of the first recorded cases of eponymy occurred in the second millennium BC, when the named each year after a high official ( ).
  • In , the was the highest magistrate in . Eponymous archons served a term of one year which took the name of that particular archon (e.g., 594 BC was named for ). Later historians provided yet another case of eponymy by referring to the period of fifth-century Athens as The Age of Pericles after its most influential statesman .
  • In , the head priest of the Cult of Alexander and the Ptolemies was the eponymous priest after whom years were named.
  • The explains the origins of peoples through individuals who bear their name. Jacob is renamed "Israel" (Gen 35:9) and his sons (or grandsons) name the original , while Edomites (Gen. 25:30), Moabites and Ammonites (Gen. 19:30-38), Canaanites (Gen. 9:20-27) and other tribes (the Kenites named after Cain Gen. 4:1-16) are said to be named for other primal ancestors bearing their name. In most cases, the experiences and behavior of the ancestor is meant to indicate the characteristics of the people who take their name.
  • In , one of the two formal ways of indicating a year was to cite the two annual who served in that year. For example, the year we know as 59 BC would have been described as "the consulship of and " (although that specific year was known jocularly as "the consulship of Julius and Caesar" because of the insignificance of Caesar's counterpart). Under the empire, the consuls would change as often as every two months, but only the two consuls at the beginning of the year would lend their names to that year.
  • During the , itself eponymous, many royal households used eponymous dating by . The Roman Catholic Church, however, eventually used the dating scheme based on the birth of Christ on both the general public and royalty. The regnal year standard is still used with respect to statutes and law reports published in some parts of the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth countries (England abandoned this practice in 1963): a statute signed into law in Canada between February 6, 1994 and February 5, 1995 would be dated 43 Elizabeth II, for instance.
  • Government administrations may become referred to eponymously, such as Kennedy's Camelot and the Nixon Era.
  • British monarchs have become eponymous throughout the English-speaking world for time periods, fashions, etc. , Georgian, , and are examples of these.

Trends


Other eponyms
  • In intellectual property law, an eponym can refer to a generic trademark or brand name, a form of , such as , Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co., 272 F. 505 (S.D.N.Y. 1921), Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, accessed March 25th, 2011 and King-Seeley Thermos Co. v. Aladdin Indus., Inc., 321 577 (2d Cir. 1963); see also this PDF in the United States.
  • In geography, places and towns can also be given an eponymous name through a relationship to an important figure. , for instance, was said to derive its name from the Greek hero . In historical times, new towns have often been named (and older communities renamed) after their founders, discoverers, or notable individuals. Examples include Vancouver, British Columbia, named for explorer ; and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, originally called Isbister's Settlement but renamed after 's husband and consort in 1866.
  • In science and technology:
    • Discoveries and innovations are often named after the discoverer or a figure influential in their advance. Examples are Avogadro's number, the , , Alzheimer's disease, and the . For a different view of the process see Stigler's law of eponymy.
    • In biological nomenclature, organisms often receive that honor a person. Examples are the plant (after ), the baobab (after ), and the moth Caligula (after the Roman emperor ).
  • In art:
    • Plays, books, and other forms of entertainment may have eponymous names, such as the ancient Greek epic , derived from its principal character, , and the novel .
    • The term is also used in the , usually with regard to record titles, where it is prevalent and leads to confusion. For example, Bad Company's first album was entitled Bad Company and contained a popular song named "Bad Company". Parodying this, the band R.E.M. titled a 1988 compilation album Eponymous. One especially convoluted case of eponyms is the 1969 song "Black Sabbath", named after the 1963 movie Black Sabbath; the band that wrote the song changed their name to and released it on the album Black Sabbath.
  • In tribal antiquity, both in ancient Greece and independently among the Hebrews, tribes often took the name of a legendary leader (as Achaeus for Achaeans, or for ). The eponym gave apparent meaning to the mysterious names of tribes, and sometimes, as in the Sons of Noah, provided a primitive attempt at as well, in the genealogical relationships of eponymous originators.
  • In , an animal name that includes the name of a person is properly called an eponym.
    (2020). 9781472905741, Bloomsbury Publishing.


Orthographic conventions

Capitalized versus lowercase
  • Because are capitalized in English, the usual default for eponyms is to capitalize the eponymous part of a term. When used as they are normally capitalized, for example , , and .
    (2014). 9780199570027, OUP Oxford. .
    (2013). 9781491800751 .
  • However, some eponymous adjectives and are nowadays entered in many dictionaries as lowercase when they have evolved a common status, no longer deriving their meaning from the proper-noun origin. For example, Herculean when referring to Hercules himself, but often herculean when referring to the figurative, generalized extension sense; and quixotic and diesel engine lowercase. For any given term, one dictionary may enter only lowercase or only cap, whereas other dictionaries may recognize the capitalized version as a variant, either equally common as, or less common than, the first-listed styling (marked with labels such as "or", "also", "often", or "sometimes"). The Chicago Manual of Style, in its section "Words derived from proper names",
    (1993). 9780226103891, University of Chicago Press.
    gives some examples of both lowercase and capitalized stylings, including a few terms styled both ways, and says, "Authors and editors must decide for themselves, but whatever choice is made should be followed consistently throughout a work."
  • When the eponym is used together with a noun, the common-noun part is not capitalized (unless it is part of a title or it is the first word in a sentence). For example, in Parkinson disease (named after ), Parkinson is capitalized, but disease is not. In addition, the adjectival form, where one exists, is usually lowercased for medical terms (thus although Parkinson disease),
    (2005). 9781401873745, Delmar Cengage Learning. .
    and gram-negative, gram-positive although .Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Style Guide. Preferred Usage Uppercase Gram-positive or Gram-negative however are also commonly used in scientific journal articles and publications. In other fields, the eponym derivative is commonly capitalized, for example, Newtonian in physics, and in philosophy (however, use lowercase platonic when describing love). The capitalization is retained after a prefix and hyphen, e.g. non-Newtonian.

For examples, see the comparison table below.


Genitive versus attributive
  • English can use either case or attributive position to indicate the adjectival nature of the eponymous part of the term. (In other words, that part may be either possessive or non-possessive.) Thus Parkinson's disease and Parkinson disease are both acceptable. Medical dictionaries have been shifting toward nonpossessive styling in recent decades., chapter 16: Eponyms. Thus Parkinson disease is more likely to be used in the latest medical literature (especially in ) than Parkinson's disease.


National varieties of English
  • American and British English spelling differences may apply to eponyms. For example, British style would typically be caesarean section, which is also found in American medical publications, but cæsarean section (with a ligature) is sometimes seen in (mostly older) British writing, and cesarean is preferred by American dictionaries and some American medical works.Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) uses "cesarean section", while the also US-published Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary uses "caesarean". The online versions of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and American Heritage Dictionary list "cesarean" first and other spellings as "variants", an etymologically anhistorical position.


Comparison table of eponym orthographic styling
 
 
More information on this word's orthographic variants is at Wiktionary: .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AMA Manual of Style lowercases the terms roman numerals and arabic numerals. MWCD enters the numeral sense under the headword Roman but with the note "not cap" on the numeral sense.


Lists of eponyms
By person's name
  • List of eponyms (A-K)
  • List of eponyms (L-Z)

By category

  • Adages
  • Adjectives
  • Asteroids
  • Astronomical objects
  • Cartoon characters
  • Chemical elements
  • Colleges and universities
  • Companies
  • Diseases
  • Foods
  • Human anatomical parts
  • Ideologies
  • Inventions
  • Mathematical theorems
  • Medical signs
  • Medical treatments
  • Minerals
  • Observations
  • Places and political entities
  • Prizes, awards and medals
  • Scientific constants
  • Scientific equations
  • Scientific laws
  • Scientific phenomena
  • Scientific units
  • Sports terms
  • Surgical procedures
  • Tests
  • Trademarks or brand names


See also


External links

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