Words that are somewhat unexpectedly named after people.

Thistread about boycotts for some reason made me wonder about where the word “boycott” comes from. It turns out that the origin of the word is a certain Charles Cunningham Boycott, who was ostracised by his community in 1880 because of some business about agrarian tenants’ rights. Some googling turns up more examples of words like this. I especially like “dunce”, named after John Duns Scotus, and “shrapnel”, after General Henry Shrapnel, who invented the “shrapnel shell”.

Can you think of more common words named after people? I’m not thinking of words like “aspirin”, that used to be trademarks but have become common terms for a kind of product, just regular words that you normally don’t think of as having their origin in names.

(EDIT: I suppose I could have posted this in GQ… feel free to move.)

After this past election campaign, the term “maverick” (from Samuel Augustus Maverick) probably deserves a mention.

There’s “cardigan” and “raglan,” as in the style of sleeve. I’ve always thought it odd that two British military figures who fought in the Crimean War became associated with sweaters.

Wasn’t the sandwich named after the Earl of Sandwich? Or is that an urban legend? Also it doesn’t answer the question of who or what the Earl is named after.

He was probably named after his maternal grandfather, also named John.
Oh, you’re talking about Sandwich

“malapropism” (saying the wrong word to hilarious effect) is named after a character prone such such slips of the tongue, named Mrs. Malaprop, in a 1775 comedy called “The Rivals.”

Sideburns, after General Burnside.

Here’s a foreign one from an ex-pat:

I was amused to learn that the French word for garbage can, “poubelle,” comes from a person: Eugène Poubelle, the 19th-century Parisian prefect who first demanded they be used to dispose of household trash. Link. (in French)

The aerobics-class ubiquitous leotard is named after French acrobat Jules Leotard.

The orrery is named for the Earl of Orrery–which is strange because it sounds like exactly the kind of word you might make up to describe such an object.

It’s a grey area, since it’s human name but not an actual person, but the word ‘Gun’ comes from “Lady Gunilda” aka “Domina Gunilda”,a ballista ( very large crossbow ).

These are all great!

A couple more: Diesel, after Rudolf Diesel, and silhouette, after 18th century French finance minister Étienne de Silhouette.

Can the name itself, ‘Malaprop’ be translated as something to do with bad choice of words (‘Mal’ meaning ‘bad’ or ‘evil’)? Which would make it a life-word imitating art-name imitating life-word :cool:

Whew. For a moment there I thought we were going to be told that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCotUS) was named after John Duns Scotus. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Maverick family actually appeared in an online anti-McCain video commenting on how McCain has been ruining the family name.

Yes, actually, malapropros, roughly, “inappropriate” in French, was the source of the name. However, “malapropism” entered the English language through the play.

Which is actually pretty damn funny for a play written in 1775. I recommend it. :smiley:

Hooker - said to be named after Major General Joseph Hooker, of the Union Army.

Very pistol, after U.S. inventor E.W. Very (1847-1907) who created Very flares.

I know Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the toilet, but does his name play any role in the the etymology of the word “crap”.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were machinists who didn’t know about Isaac Babbitt.