An eponym is a person, place, or thing after whom or after which something is named, or believed to be named. The adjectives derived from eponym include eponymous and eponymic. For example, Elizabeth I of England is the eponym of the Elizabethan era, and "the eponymous founder of the Ford Motor Company" refers to Henry Ford. Recent usage, especially in the recorded-music industry, also allows eponymous to mean "named after its central character or creator".[1][2][3][4]

Orion Head to Toe
The mythological Greek hero Orion is the eponym of the constellation Orion, shown here, and thus indirectly of the Orion spacecraft.[5]


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 Assyrians named each year after a high official (limmu).
  • In ancient Greece, the eponymous archon was the highest magistrate in classical Athens. Eponymous archons served a term of one year which took the name of that particular archon (e.g., 594 BC was named for Solon). 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 Pericles.
  • In Ptolemaic Egypt, the head priest of the Cult of Alexander and the Ptolemies was the eponymous priest after whom years were named.
  • The Hebrew Bible 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 12 tribes of Israel, 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 ancient Rome, one of the two formal ways of indicating a year was to cite the two annual consuls who served in that year. For example, the year we know as 59 BC would have been described as "the consulship of Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus and Gaius Julius Caesar" (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 Christian era, itself eponymous, many royal households used eponymous dating by regnal years. The Roman Catholic Church, however, eventually used the Anno Domini 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. Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian are examples of these.


Other eponyms

Orthographic conventions

Capitalized versus lowercase

  • Because proper nouns are capitalized in English, the usual default for eponyms is to capitalize the eponymous part of a term. When used as proper adjectives they are normally capitalized, for example Victorian, Shakespearean, and Kafkaesque.[10][11]
  • However, some eponymous adjectives and noun adjuncts 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.[12] For example, Herculean when referring to Hercules himself, but often herculean when referring to the figurative, generalized extension sense;[12] and quixotic and diesel engine [lowercase only].[12][13] 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",[14] 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 James Parkinson), Parkinson is capitalized, but disease is not. In addition, the adjectival form, where one exists, is usually lowercased for medical terms (thus parkinsonian although Parkinson disease),[15] and gram-negative, gram-positive although Gram stain.[16] Uppercase Gram-positive or Gram-negative however are also commonly used in scientific journal articles and publications.[17][18][19] In other fields, the eponym derivative is commonly capitalized, for example, Newtonian in physics,[20][21] and Platonic in philosophy (however, use lowercase platonic when describing love).[10] The capitalization is retained after a prefix and hyphen, e.g. non-Newtonian.[10]

For examples, see the comparison table below.

Genitive versus attributive

  • English can use either genitive 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.[22] Thus Parkinson disease is more likely to be used in the latest medical literature (especially in postprints) than is 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 digraph) is sometimes seen in (mostly older) British writing, and cesarean is preferred by American dictionaries and some American medical works.[23]

Comparison table of eponym orthographic styling

Prevalent dictionary styling today Stylings that defy prevalent dictionary styling Comments
Addison disease[24] *Addison Disease
*addison disease
Allemann syndrome[24] *Allemann Syndrome
*allemann syndrome
cesarean [only][24]
cesarean also cesarian [but no cap variant][12]
cesarean, "often capitalized" or caesarean also cesarian or caesarian[25]
  More information on this word's orthographic variants is at Wiktionary: caesarean section.
darwinian [only][24]
darwinism [only][24]
Darwinian [only][12][13]
Darwinism [only][12][13]
Darwinist [only][12][13]
diesel (n/adj/vi) [no cap variant][12][13]
and also
diesel engine[12][13]
dieselize, dieselization[12]
*Diesel engine
*Dieselize, Dieselization
draconian often Draconian[12]
eustachian [only][24]
eustachian often Eustachian[12]
eustachian tube [only][24]
eustachian tube often Eustachian tube[12]
eustachian tube or Eustachian tube[13]
*Eustachian Tube  
fallopian [only][24]
fallopian often Fallopian[12]
fallopian tube [only][24]
fallopian tube often Fallopian tube[12]
fallopian tube also Fallopian tube[13]
*Fallopian Tube  
Marxism [only][12][13]
Marxist [only][12][13]
mendelian [only][24] or Mendelian [only][12]
mendelian inheritance [only][24] or Mendelian inheritance [only][12] 
Mendel's laws[12][24]
*Mendelian Inheritance  
Newtonian [only][12][13] *newtonian  
parkinsonism [only][12][24]
parkinsonian [only][12][24]
parkinsonian tremor[24]
Parkinson disease [only][24]
Parkinson's disease [only][12]
*Parkinsonian tremor
*Parkinsonian Tremor
*Parkinson Disease
*Parkinson's Disease
quixotic [only][12][13] *Quixotic  
Roman numerals[13]
roman numerals[12]
  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.[12]

Lists of eponyms

By person's name

By category

See also


  1. ^ "eponym". Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com LLC. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  2. ^ "eponym". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  3. ^ "eponymous". Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com LLC. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  4. ^ "eponymous". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Orion Spacecraft - Nasa Orion Spacecraft". aerospaceguide.net.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com.
  8. ^ King-Seeley Thermos Co. v. Aladdin Indus., Inc., 321 F.2d 577 (2d Cir. 1963); see also this PDF Archived 2006-02-09 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2014). The Eponym Dictionary of Birds. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 1472905741.
  10. ^ a b c Waddingham, Anne (28 August 2014). New Hart's Rules: The Oxford Style Guide. OUP Oxford. p. 105. ISBN 978-0199570027.
  11. ^ Marthus-Adden Zimboiant. No Grammar Tears 1. pp. 256–257. ISBN 9781491800751.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Merriam-Webster (1993), Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.), Springfield, Massachusetts, USA: Merriam-Webster, ISBN 978-0-87779-707-4
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Houghton Mifflin (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.), Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-82517-4
  14. ^ University of Chicago (1993). The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. § 7.49, pp. 253–254. ISBN 0-226-10389-7.
  15. ^ Lorraine Villemaire, Doreen Oberg (29 December 2005). Grammar and Writing Skills for the Health Professional (2nd Revised ed.). Delmar Cengage Learning. p. 167. ISBN 978-1401873745.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  16. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Style Guide. Preferred Usage
  17. ^ Lisa Brown, Julie M. Wolf, Rafael Prados-Rosales & Arturo Casadevall (2015). "Through the wall: extracellular vesicles in Gram-positive bacteria, mycobacteria and fungi". Nature Reviews Microbiology. 13: 620–630. doi:10.1038/nrmicro3480. PMC 4860279. PMID 26324094.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ Kristen L. Mueller (12 June 2015). "Detecting Gram-negative bacteria". Science. 348 (6240): 1218. doi:10.1126/science.348.6240.1218-o.
  19. ^ "Gram-positive". Dictionary.com.
  20. ^ "Newtonian". Merriam-Wester.
  21. ^ "New·ton". The American Heritage Dictionary.
  22. ^ Iverson, Cheryl (editor) (2007), AMA Manual of Style (10 ed.), Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517633-9CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link), chapter 16: Eponyms.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Elsevier (2007), Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary (31st ed.), Philadelphia: Elsevier, ISBN 978-1-4160-2364-7
  25. ^ Merriam-Webster (2003), Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.), Springfield, Massachusetts, USA: Merriam-Webster, ISBN 978-0-87779-809-5

External links

Campaign for the neologism "santorum"

The campaign for the neologism "santorum" started with a contest held in May 2003 by Dan Savage, a sex columnist and LGBT rights activist. Savage asked his readers to create a definition for the word "santorum" in response to then-U.S. Senator Rick Santorum's views on homosexuality, and comments about same sex marriage. In his comments, Santorum had stated that "[i]n every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." Savage announced the winning entry, which defined "santorum" as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex". He created a web site, spreadingsantorum.com (and santorum.com), to promote the definition, which became a top internet search result, displacing the senator's official website on many search engines, including Google, Yahoo! Search, and Bing.In 2010 Savage said he would take the site down if Santorum donated US$5 million plus interest to Freedom to Marry, a group advocating legal recognition of same-sex marriages. In September 2011 Santorum asked Google to remove the definition from its search engine index. Google refused, responding that the company does not remove content from search results except in very limited circumstances.

Cephissus (mythology)

Cephissus (Greek: Κηφισός, kephisos) is a river god of ancient Greece, associated with the river Cephissus in Attica, Greece. He was a son of Pontus and Thalassa.The same author names as daughters of this Cephissus:

the naiad Lilaea (10.33.4) the eponym of Lilaea at its source,

Daulis (10.4.7) the eponym of the city of Daulis,

Melaeno (10.6.4) mother of Delphus by Apollo, though he also gives two other accounts of Delphus' mother. However one of these alternate versions is that Thyia daughter of the aboriginal Castalius was Delphus' mother, almost certainly the same Thyia whom Herodotus (7.178.1) claims was daughter of Cephissus to whom the Delphians built an altar to the winds and who was eponym of the Thyiades.A mortal son of Cephissus was Eteocles by Euippe, daughter of Leucon, son of Athamas. This Euippe was wife of King Andreus of Orchomenus and Eteocles inherited Andreus' throne (9.34.9). Eteocles or Eteoclus, son of Cephissus, is confirmed from Hesiod's Catalogue (Fr. 70) and Pindar (Ol. 14). He first made offering to the Charites by the side of the river Cephissus.

Cephissus was also father of Narcissus according to Ovid's Metamorphoses (3.342), Hyginus (271), and Statius' Thebaid (7.340), Narcissus' mother being an otherwise unknown naiad named Liriope according to Ovid.

Delboeuf illusion

The Delboeuf illusion is an optical illusion of relative size perception. In the best-known version of the illusion, two circles of identical size have been placed near to each other and one is surrounded by an annulus; the surrounded circle then appears larger than the non-surrounded circle if the annulus is close, while appearing smaller than the non-surrounded circle if the annulus is distant. A 2005 study suggests it is caused by the same visual processes that cause the Ebbinghaus illusion.


There were several figures named Elatus or Élatos (Ἔλατος) in Greek mythology.

Elatus, a Lapith chieftain of Larissa, Thessaly. He was the father, by Hippeia, of Caeneus, Polyphemus, and Ischys who was beloved by Coronis, and a daughter Dotia, possibly the eponym of Dotion (Dotium) in Thessaly (see also Dotis). He was also the father of the seer Ampycus.

Elatus, a centaur, killed during a battle with Heracles by a poisoned arrow that passed through his arm and continued to wound Chiron in the knee.The asteroid 31824 Elatus is named after this figure.

Elatus, one of the suitors of Penelope, killed by Eumaeus.

Elatus, a son of Arcas by either Leaneira, Meganeira, Chrysopeleia or Erato and the brother of Apheidas and Azan. He was allotted by Arcas the region of then-nameless Mount Cyllene as his domain, but afterwards migrated to the region which later became known as Phocis, and assisted the local inhabitants in the war against the Phlegyans; he was renowned as founder and eponym of the city Elatea. An image of him was carved on a stele in the marketplace of Elatea. He married Laodice (daughter of Cinyras) and became by her father of Stymphalus, Pereus, Aepytus, Ischys, and Cyllen.

Elatus, an ally of the Trojans from Pedasus, killed by Agamemnon.

Elatus or Elaton, a charioteer of Amphiaraus, otherwise known as Baton.

Elatus, father of Euanippe, who was the mother of Polydorus by Hippomedon.

Elatus, a son of Icarius and father of Taenarus by Erymede.

Eponym Group

The Eponym Group (Persian: گروه همنام‎; Hamnam) was an electoral list for the Iranian legislative election, 1980 claiming "it would choose its candidates based on merit without regard to party affiliation". Close to the Freedom Movement, the group formed a minority in the parliament with approximately 15 to 23 seats. Due to internal conflicts, the Freedom Movement did not issue a list but its members were included in the Eponym list. The list had members of Freedom Movement, JAMA and Islamic Republican Party.

Eponym dating system

The Eponym dating system was a calendar system for Assyria, for a period of over one thousand years. Every year was associated with the name, an eponym, of the Limmu, the individual holding office.

The dating system is thought to have originated in the ancient city of Assur, and remained the official dating system in Assyria until the end of the Assyrian Empire in the seventh century BC. The names of the Limmu who became eponyms were originally chosen by lot sortition, until the first millennium it became a fixed rotation of officers headed by the king who constituted the limmu. The earliest known attestations of a year eponyms are at Karum-Kanesh, and became used in other Assyrian colonies in Anatolia. Its spread was due to Shamshi-Adad I's unification of northern Mesopotamia.

Erythema induratum

Erythema induratum is a panniculitis on the calves. It occurs mainly in women, but it is very rare now. Historically, when it has occurred, it has often been concomitant with cutaneous tuberculosis, and it was formerly thought to be always a reaction to the tuberculum bacillus. It is now considered a panniculitis that is not associated with just a single defined pathogen. The medical eponym Bazin disease was historically synonymous, but it applies only to the tuberculous form and is dated.

Froment's sign

Froment's sign is a special test of the wrist. It tests for palsy of the ulnar nerve, specifically, the action of adductor pollicis. Froment's maneuver can also refer to cogwheel effect from contralateral arm movements seen in Parkinson's disease.

Generic trademark

A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, due to its popularity or significance, has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, usually against the intentions of the trademark's holder. The process of a product's name becoming genericized is known as genericide.A trademark is said to become genericized when it begins as a distinctive product identifier but changes in meaning to become generic. This typically happens when the products or services with which the trademark is associated have acquired substantial market dominance or mind share, such that the primary meaning of the genericized trademark becomes the product or service itself rather than an indication of source for the product or service. A trademark thus popularized has its legal protection at risk in some countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, as its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost and competitors enabled to use the genericized trademark to describe their similar products, unless the owner of an affected trademark works sufficiently to correct and prevent such broad use.Thermos, Kleenex, ChapStick, Aspirin, Dumpster, Band-Aid, Velcro, Hoover, Jet Ski and Speedo are examples of trademarks that have become genericized in the US and elsewhere.


In cricket, a googly is a type of deceptive delivery bowled by a right-arm leg spin bowler. In Australia, it is occasionally referred to as a Wrongun or a Bosie (or Bosey), an eponym in honour of its inventor Bernard Bosanquet. A leg spin bowler bowls in a leg spin way but it goes in the off spin direction.


In Norse mythology, Jörmungandr (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr, pronounced [ˈjɔrmunˌɡandr̥], meaning "huge monster"), also known as the Midgard (World) Serpent (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr), is a sea serpent, the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and Loki. According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki's three children by Angrboða—the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr—and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that he was able to surround the earth and grasp his own tail. As a result, he received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When he releases his tail, Ragnarök will begin. Jörmungandr's arch-enemy is the thunder-god, Thor. It is an example of an ouroboros.


Llanilar is a village in Ceredigion, Wales, about 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) southeast of Aberystwyth. It is the eponym of the hundred of Ilar. The population at the 2011 census was 1,085.


The name Lycomedes (Ancient Greek: Λυκομήδης) may refer to several characters in Greek mythology, of whom the most prominent was the king of Scyros during the Trojan War.

McBurney's point

McBurney's point is the name given to the point over the right side of the abdomen that is one-third of the distance from the anterior superior iliac spine to the umbilicus (navel). This point roughly corresponds to the most common location of the base of the appendix where it is attached to the cecum.

Mees' lines

Mees' lines or Aldrich–Mees' lines, also called leukonychia striata, are white lines of discoloration across the nails of the fingers and toes (leukonychia).

Millard–Gubler syndrome

Millard–Gubler syndrome is a lesion of the pons. It is also called ventral pontine syndrome.


A nymph (Greek: νύμφη nýmphē, Ancient: [nýmpʰɛː] Modern: [nífi]) in Greek mythology is a minor female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform.

Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing; their amorous freedom sets them apart from the restricted and chaste wives and daughters of the Greek polis. They are beloved by many and dwell in mountainous regions and forests by springs or rivers; as Walter Burkert (Burkert 1985:III.3.3) remarks, "The idea that rivers are gods and springs divine nymphs is deeply rooted not only in poetry but in belief and ritual; the worship of these deities is limited only by the fact that they are inseparably identified with a specific locality."

Other nymphs, always in the shape of young maidens, were part of the retinue of a god, such as Dionysus, Hermes, or Pan, or a goddess, generally the huntress Artemis. Nymphs were the frequent target of satyrs.

Spigelian hernia

A Spigelian hernia (or lateral ventral hernia) is a hernia through the Spigelian fascia, which is the aponeurotic layer between the rectus abdominis muscle medially, and the semilunar line laterally. These are generally interparietal hernias, meaning that they do not lie below the subcutaneous fat but penetrate between the muscles of the abdominal wall; therefore, there is often no notable swelling.

Spigelian hernias are usually small and therefore risk of strangulation is high. Most occur on the right side. (4th–7th decade of life.) Compared to other types of hernias they are rare.

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