Joseph Guillotin, Henry Shrapnel and Jules Leotard became immortal — by entering the English language. But NPR’s Robert Krulwich and Adam Cole discover that when your entire life is reduced to a single definition, the results are sometimes upsetting. Great stuff


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  1. OldFox #
    October 1, 2011

    This is great! I learned about seven new eponyms. I am angry about the common practice of dropping the initial capital when an eponym acquires the nature of a noun, verb, adverb, or adjective.

    My view, which SHOULD be a Rule of English, is that any word derived from a Proper Noun should ALWAYS be capitalized as an etymological symbol of it’s historical definition. If you capitalize it and a teacher takes point off for spelling, that is teaching malpractice. With the proper rule, teachers should take off credit if an eponym is NOT capitalized.

    In Philadelphia PA there is a tourist attraction for families and children. They have a dramatized re-enactment of the colonists debate about English taxes. One arguer in the purported meeting calls for “a Boycott be put on British goods.

    Until I was 60 years old, on a trip to Ireland, I never knew that ‘Boycott’ is an eponym of great historical import in 1880’s Ireland. I felt cheated and defrauded by the American educational system! And, of course, I went ballistic realizing that our federal government parks department insults us by bald-faced lying that a word that did not exist in 1775 was uttered by one of the founders.

    So I am on a mission to learn as many eponyms as I can and to capitalize them.

    Why don’t we get to learn the historical truth about Boycott, Diesel, Hamburger, Celsius, Cartesian, Sandwich, Caesarian, Draconian, Bougainvillea, Malapropism, Borked, Mirandized, Ham, Braiil, Derrick, Danish pastry, Cheddar cheeze, Uncle Tom, Atlas, Yalie, Plutonium, Uranium, Bohrium, Mercurial, Moonlight, Kelvin, Bloomers, Angstrom, Ampere, Bowlerize, Bowdie, Byronic, Burked, or any of these wonderful words, .

    Feedback welcome. Thank you.

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