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10 Fascinating and Unexpected Origins of Words

Peter Sharpe . . . Comments

Language is a fascinating thing. The words we use today are drawn from, and have evolved for, today’s usage from a wide variety of sources. One source is someone’s name. An eponym is a word that has its origin in a person’s name. This list contains 10 eponyms and their fascinating origins. Be sure to add any others you know to the comments…



Saloon1890SNamed After: Mickey Finn

This term refers to something added to someone’s drink, without their knowledge, that is designed to intoxicate, incapacitate or, at worst, kill them. The act of “Slipping someone a mickey” is common in detective stories and spy fiction. Mickey is named after Mickey Finn, a criminal who operated in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th century. He started off as a pickpocket whose favorite prey was the drunken patrons of the bars in South Chicago. He then became the proprietor of The Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which was where he put the technique that bears his name into practice. Finn, or one of his employees, would lace a patron’s drink with chloral hydrate. Once passed out, they would be escorted to a back room where they were then robbed and dumped into the street. When they came to, the effect of the drug left them with no memory of the events. Finn’s scam was eventually exposed and the bar was closed by authorities in 1903.



Screen Shot 2010-10-11 At 2.04.07 PmNamed After: Etienne de Silhouette

The definition of silhouette is, “an image of a person, object or scene consisting of the outline and a featureless interior”. Silhouettes are a popular artistic technique that started in the 18th century, with the outline of the subject being cut from black card. Artists that used them include Hans Christian Anderson and William Heath Robinson.
The popularity of the form has grown, and they are widely used today. Many films, especially Films Noir, have used silhouettes for artistic effect. Silhouette is also a favorite technique of modern day photography & design, and many can be seen in optical illusions. As well as art, they have many practical applications such as road signs, and are used in Jane’s manuals to depict aircraft and other vehicles. Etienne de Silhouette was a French finance minister who, in 1759, imposed harsh economic demands on the country to fix France’s credit crisis during the seven years war. Some of his measures included taxing “signs of wealth”, such as doors, and seizing, and then smelting, gold and silverware. One of his hobbies was creating paper portraits. The term was, at the time, used to mock Silhouette and referred to something cheaply done.



TsNamed After: Draco

Draconian is defined as “unusually severe or cruel punishment”, but is often used nowadays to mean any sort of harsh regime or thought. It is often used in the press to refer to government policies, and is widely used in fiction. This is perhaps one of the most interesting entries. Draco was a lawmaker in Ancient Greece, who abolished the “oral law” system, and then replaced it with a written code, against which a person’s crimes would be judged in court. To ensure everyone was aware of the law, it was carved into wooden tablets and displayed for the population to see. This, arguably, laid the foundations for the system of law widely used today. So, the question is, how can a man who created a system which was fairer than the one which preceded it, have a negative word associated with him? The answer is in the laws that he created. Minor crimes that would result in a fine or a warning today, were punishable by death.



MentorNamed After: Mentor from Greek Mythology

This is another entry from Ancient Greece that has stood the test of time. A mentor is described as a “teacher or trusted counselor”. Mentoring is very common today, both on an informal basis and as a part of formal education programs. The idea of a Mentor is also very common in fiction. I am sure we have all had mentors, be they family, teachers or friends, who have guided us. In Homer’s Odyssey, the main character, Odysseus, asks Mentor to look after his son, Telemachus, when Odysseus departs for the Trojan War. The two develop a near-paternal relationship, as Mentor (and the Goddess Athena, in disguise as Mentor) helps Telemachus to overcome the difficulties he faces.



2008811155355927Named After: Thomas Derrick

A Derrick is a lifting device designed for moving large objects. They are used widely in engineering, and are also used to drill for oil and gas reserves. Thomas Derrick was a hangman in Elizabethan England. Derrick was a convicted rapist who was facing the death penalty. In an event that could be straight out of a spy film, Derrick was offered a pardon by the Earl of Essex, if he worked for the state as an executioner. During his time as a hangman, he designed a new system with a topping lift and pulley, as opposed to the rope over a beam method. Derrick executed over 3,000 people. One of whom, rather ironically, was The Earl of Essex, the man who pardoned him.



Charles Cunningham Boycott (Vanity Fair)Named After: Captain Charles Boycott

A boycott is defined as “the act of voluntarily abstaining from, using, buying or dealing with an organization or country as an expression of protest”. Boycotts are widely used today for a variety of reasons: I know (as I am sure you do, as well) people who avoid differing brands as an act of protest. At the other end of the scale, there have been examples of entire countries boycotting something: for example, the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Charles Boycott was an English Estate Agent in Ireland. In 1880, harvests were poor and many tenants were struggling to pay their rent. One landlord, Lord Erne, offered his tenants a ten percent reduction on their rents. Some of these rejected this and demanded 25%. This was refused by Erne, and Boycott then attempted to evict some of the protestors. Instead of violence, the protestors used a new kind of resistance, isolation. The simply refused to have any dealings with Boycott. This spread throughout the area. Boycott’s workers stopped, local businesses refused to deal with him and even the postman refused to deliver to him! As well as the problems caused by isolation the extra staff that Boycott needed to draft in from other areas resulted in him losing money on that year’s harvest.



Mesmerbp1Named After: Franz Mesmer

Some definitions of mesmerize are “to attract strongly, like a magnet” and “to induce hypnosis in”. The kind of feeling you have when you just cannot take your eyes from something, despite any distractions, one where the outside world seems to disappear and all focus is on that which mesmerizes. Franz Mesmer was a German physician and astrologist. He is known for a particular medical procedure where he sat with a patient, looked into their eyes and made passes in front of their face. Mesmer believed that this would remove the barriers in our body and allow the free-flow of the processes of life. This procedure was later developed, by others, into the complex hypnosis procedures practiced today. Mesmer was highly criticized at the time for his procedures, mainly due to the lack of scientific evidence to support them. Disclaimer: Hypnosis is still a highly controversial area today. Some people think of it as a pseudoscience and some people swear by it. Personally, I am a sceptic but this article in no way wishes to provoke anyone.



William-Henry-Boss-HooverNamed After: William Henry Hoover

William Henry Hoover was an American businessman who, in 1908, bought the patent to a model of vacuum cleaner designed by janitor, and friend, James Spangler. The company became the leading manufacturer of vacuum cleaners in the 20th century, and they are known for introducing a number of innovations to the market. Hoover was also known for his community spirit. He was a great philanthropist, using much of his wealth to improve the lives of his workers and others around Ohio, where his company was based. For example, he donated some of his land for a community centre, was instrumental in establishing railway lines in Ohio and served as president of the Goodwill Mission. He was nicknamed “boss” by his employees who held him in high esteem for the way he treated them. During the depression, Hoover held over $100,000 of home down payments for his employees and was known to personally visit sick employees.



Montagu 550Named After: John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich

Although the act of eating bread with other foods dates back to prehistoric times, the modern sandwich was named after John Montagu. The exact circumstances for the naming is still a matter of debate, with 2 main hypothesizes being argued. The most popular one is that he asked his servants to bring him pieces of meat between slices of bread during long card games so the cards would not get damaged by the grease. The other is that, due to Montagu’s commitments as a statesmen, he needed a quick and easy meal which could be eaten at his desk, a concept that’s common today.

Whichever story is correct, I am sure that he had no idea that what is now one of the most popular, versatile and enduring meals would bear his name. Over 1.69 billion sandwiches were bought in the UK last year. There is even a British Sandwich Association. As well as the eponymous sandwich, Montagu was a very important British statesman, who held many positions of high office in the armed forces and the government. He was an astute politician and an excellent diplomat. He served as First Lord of the Admiralty 3 times, and was also Secretary of State for the North of England. He was a big supporter of exploration, and helped to fund Captain James Cook’s voyages. This led to the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), the South Sandwich Islands and Montagu Island, in Alaska, bearing his name.



Sacher MasochNamed After: The Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher Masoch

Ok, I decided to leave this one till the end, not because I enjoy either of these acts personally, but because it is a fascinating example of the nature of eponyms and language. Two opposite ends of a scale, named after two totally unrelated men. The terms are widely used today and have medical, as well as social, applications. The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) was a French revolutionary, aristocrat and author. He believed in extreme freedom from law, religion and morality. His books were full of sexual fantasies, with an emphasis on violence. This was highly controversial in its time, and Sade spent half his life in various asylums, where many of his works were written. Sade was also accused of various sexual crimes including violence, false imprisonment of prostitutes, sodomy and spiking people’s drinks so to gain sex from them (see number 10).

Conversely, Leopold von Sacher Masoch (1836-1895) was a harmless Austrian author and journalist. He was a utopian idealist whose writings contained many humanist and socialist ideas. Many of his works are, sadly, not translated into English. Some of his writing, including his best known work, Venus in Furs, described someone voluntarily receiving pain and humiliation from a sexual partner. Masoch believed this led to a state called “suprasensuality”. It is not known to what extent Masoch took part in these practices in real life, but there is some evidence that he did, including making himself a slave to one of his girlfriends for a period of six months. Masoch did this not for any sinister reason, but because he was a ultra-romantic who believed that the submission of a man in a male dominated society was an act of love.

  • Vince


  • cqsteve

    Bloomers, Bobbies (English Police), Leotards. Anyone got anymore?

    • oliveralbq

      @cqsteve: "Anyone got anymore?"

      —–in about 21 more hours (right before tomorrows list comes out) someone should count how many we all wind up with in the comments, for the day.

    • Professor

      "leotard" comes from latin meaning "A member of the lion family participating in a special-learnings program"

      • cambered

        I like it… thumbs up.

        Reminds me of "oxymoron" — an idiot using a welder.

        • Jay

          Stupefy – sound system used by an idiot? Or is everyone too young to remember hi-fi?

          • cambered

            Nice one. Perhaps this was the same idiot who strapped a low-end speaker to the belly of his dog? (sub-woofer)

            Oh dear, methinks this is descending rapidly to a spate of bad "dad jokes".

            Hi-Fi — I wish I was too young to remember.

      • Jay

        Then what's a camelopard?

    • *Laden* comes from Osama bin laden

      • Jay

        Comments like that make me wonder : Who's sane? And if people don't get that joke, Sod 'em.

    • caysha

      Bobbies – A name that came from Sir Robert Peel who helped create the British Police Force. So the police are known as bobbies (from Robert – Bob) in England and apparently as 'Peelers' in Ireland.

    • Dave

      Tantalize and cardigan.

      • cqsteve

        ? <DIV>I've heard of Lord or Earl Caridgan, a British soldier-(something to do with the Charge of the LIght Brigade?) Tantalize – no idea.</DIV> <DIV style=”FONT: 10pt arial”>

    • cqsteve

      actually i was just wondering about more words that originated from surnames. Looks like some other listers took a different slant – amusing.

    • Jay Poe

      Bobbies came from Sir Robert (Bobby) Peel, who introduced the Police Act. He helped create the modern concept of the police force,

  • ginger

    I've only rarely come across the term 'slipping someone a mickey'. I've always known that word in the context of 'taking the mickey', as in taking the piss or making fun of someone. Interesting list, I didn't realise several of these words came from names.

  • tanman

    i thought a mickey was a 24 ounce hard liquer drink size??

    • robh

      Mickey's Big Mouths- brand, not size.

      • TEX

        I've thrown up those Mickey's before – bluhhhh

    • kashmirjay

      I was just about to comment and say the same thing. That's the only usage I'm familiar with. As in, "I drank a mickey of Bacardi last night." It's also a beer here, Mickey's. It's in a green stubby :)

    • cassiusmcgee

      Actually here in Canada, a mickey is a small 10-12 ounce bottle of liquor, and texas mickeys are 3.79 liter bottles. I don't think they call em mickeys in the U.S.

  • mrjimmyos

    William Henry Hoover sounds like one cool dude

    • coocoocuchoo

      WAIT….is that why them little Hoovers with the faces on them are called HENRY?!! turning in his grave…

  • fairtwiggy1

    July and August after Julius and Augustus Caesar.

    • oliveralbq

      dont forget long lost brother, septemberius caesar.

      • cambered

        With jokes like that, I wish he'd remained lost.

      • fairtwiggy1

        your're such a dork but I still love ya. Muahhhhhhhhh!

        • oliveralbq

          am not.

          but thats *why* you love me.

          gotta pucker your lips more, though… mwahhhh

          • pecker

            get a room

  • br0ck

    learning is gay

    • Grog

      Yaaaawwwnnn.. yeaah that's why you come here everyday without fail, naughty naughty brocky-crocky

    • Zaeriuraschi (pronounced zay-ree-ooh-ras-chee)

      Br0ck just says stupid things to get a reaction. Let's all do ourselves a favor and ignore him.

      • jen

        boycott him!

    • Jay

      We've gotten used to you. Now you're just another br0ck in the wall.

  • peeyaj

    Quixotic- from Cervantes' Don Quixote. It means a chivalrous, yet a foolish undertaking.

    Kafkaesque – of or relating to the works of Franz Kafka, nightmarish

    Maverick – an unbranded cow, separated from its mother. From Samuel Maverick.

    • TEX

      -esques don't count "an adjective suffix indicating resemblance"

      but you're other two are damn good

    • cgo26

      Orwellian – Big Brother is reading this list

  • Saunders3004

    Maybe you could write a list about words we use from brands(xerox,hoover(in britain)…we have a few of these in my country too…

    • TEX


    • Moonbeam

      Crescent wrench – Crescent is actually a brand of tools. Technically they should be called adjustable wrenches.

      • Skata


        Channel Locks. Same.

        • Buddydog2656

          Phillips Screwdrives too….~

    • cambered

      I have heard sewing machines referred to as "Singers" before.

      • Maria

        amboxj @ntackin.Ev pordzeci ctxesel im sepakan [email protected],[email protected] misht indz anhasaneli e tvacel,Cankanum em vor bolor volortnerum ashxaten dzer andznakazmi nman,Aysinkn chisht motecmamb Shnorhakalutyun .Harganknerov Toma.

    • Jay

      And Kleenex. Also, Kotex might qualify.

      • Skata

        In the South; Frigidaire–any refrigerator.

        • oliveralbq

          some evolve over time — if you wanna take it regionally, certain places in the south, root beer and "barq's" are the same thing.

          what kind of barq's do you want? a&w or barq's?

          of course, i pass ed barq sr's tomb over on irish hill dr in biloxi going to work daily.

  • Lifeschool

    Excellent list – really learned something today. I always wondered what Draconian meant. Now I just have to go and see where 'philistine' came from. Thanks Peter.

    • jobeer

      it comes from the philistines… a contemporary of the Jews after their flight from Egypt.

      • PJMurphy

        …now known as "Palestinians".

  • I got one – Henry Heimlich, Heimlich Maneuver.

    • Elli

      "I've invented a maneuuuver!"

  • Will Trame

    Interesting list.

    January, I believe, was named after Janus. It’s fascinating that the majority of the months of the year and the days of the week are named after pagan gods.

    • Armadillotron

      What`s March come after? I was born in March.

      • jobeer

        March comes after February it is named for the god of war Mars, not the god of war Kratos even though Kratoch would be a pretty sweet month.

        • bluesman87

          kratoch sounds like the thick yellow stuff that comes out after you have already vomited all the proper coch out .

          • Lisa

            oooh – we need a list that is words with what their definition should be :)

        • cambered

          I wish I was born in Kratoch… that would be sweet… apart from the whole vomiting bile thingy.

        • TEX

          "March comes after February"
          he hee

  • Dr John K. Flynn

    An excellent article! A history lesson behind every word or phrase ..
    I'll be adding this new list to my collection of handy word lists at
    Thanks to the contributors too.

  • Top Kill

    Very interesting indeed. I am a sadist.

    • billy

      Nope. Just sad.

  • plum13sec

    I thoroughly had a great time pretending the list was good for 3 minutes.

    • Jay

      So you had a "tri-fling?"

      • plum13sec


  • zagga20

    Oddly enough I don't think 'Hoover' is a big term here in Australia. I've heard a bunch of American and UK people use it though.

    • coocoocuchoo

      most of the time in the UK we dont actually have a Hoover, just a Vaccum cleaner, but we refer to all vaccum cleaners as Hoovers…most ppl here dont even know that it is actually a brand name.

    • Our Jo

      Ive been in Australia from the uk for almost 10 years, and I still hoover the floor :)

  • elise

    i think this list should be named top ten eponymous words. really enjoyed this one well done :)

  • Adem Aljo

    The plural of hypothesis is 'hypotheses', not 'hypothesizes', which is the past-participal of the verb, to hypothesise. Please find someone (else) to proofread the lists that get posted because occasionally the language is just awful.

    • TEX

      Adem Aljo Arsepore

    • Jay

      That's one of several possible hypothesisses. Incidentally, if you think everything is gay, are you a hypothesissy?

      Oh, br0ccckkkk…

    • Steve

      I too am a stickler for correct spelling, but to critisise 'hypothesizes' is a bit harsh. Yes it's wrong but, when there are articles out there using "there", "their" and "they're"; "your" and "you're" and "its" and "it's incorrectly, I don't think it's that bad!

    • br0ck

      I believe you meant to type "participle," O Sucker of Cocks.

  • Skata

    Love these lists!
    Okay guys, long story short: Back in the early days of Rome, when they had kings, there weren't a lot of women around. The Romans had to raid their neighbors and steal their women.

    There is a word in common English usage that is descended from an Archaic Latin word describing the length of the chain holding a woman in the house's kitchen. Anyone know what it is?

    • bluesman87

      wedding ring ?

      • Skata

        Nah, Boooooo! It was a serious question.

        I am disappoint.

        • sttephaniie

          I'm really curious about what the answer is.

        • bluesman87

          leash ?

          • Skata

            No, it's some culinary term in common American usage, but I can't remember what it is.

    • Stefan

      do you eat 'skata?'

      • Skata

        No, too small, too many bones.

        • Stefan

          i dont know what you're shitting out dude, it means shit in greek lol

  • NiMur90

    Fascinating list. I want to live in Sandwich solely to say I live in Sandwich.

    • Jay

      If you were bred in Sandwich, would that make you a ham? That's cheezy.

  • oliveralbq

    and saladius caesar —- (nah — my bad — that was caesar cardini)
    —–seem to me about 4 out of 5 eponyms come from the surname. caesar salad is the only thing i can think of at the moment named after the first name. im sure there are many others. — i used to think the bloody caesar (gin bloody mary w/ clamato here in new orleans, but has diferent recipes) was attributed to cardini, like the caesar salad, but it's one of the ones twiggy said above — julius or augustus.. not sure which, though.

    and while im on the caesar subject, there are also a lot of debated word relations.
    —i have heard caesarian section is an eponym. and i have heard it isn't.
    anyone have an idea which side is right?

  • oliveralbq

    narcissism is one. (narcissus) — rooted in sleep and/or numbness.

    jacuzzi (candido jacuzzi)

    hertz (frequency, not the rent-a-car) — henrich hertz

    bluetooth — (harald bluetooth gormssom of denmark) who was a storyteller

    and, of course, for all you aussie cricket fans, b j t bosanquet lent his name to the bosie (aussie googly)

    • cambered

      You really are a cricket tragic, Ollie. I love that you know of the "bosie" but to be honest, pretty much everyone here refers to them as a "googly". Whilst on the origins of sporting terms, I have often wondered about some of the golfing terms, especially "bogey" and "birdie"… I am led to believe that bogey was related to the bogey-man and birdie ties in with the 19th century American slang term "bird", meaning anything good.

      For the record, the way I play golf, there ain't too much "bird" going on… just plenty of cussing.

      • Jay

        cambered, I would "flip you the bird" if I knew what the heck THAT means. But I don't even know where the term "cricket" comes from! I'm told golf came from the word "flog" which means to "whale" around at something trying to hit it. My dad used to flog me with a "switch," but he didn't switch, he just kept beating me with a shileghlagh, probably in frustration because he couldn't spell "sheleyleigh…" Which I'm told is one name for the bat used in cricket. But even watching a bat eat a cricket doesn't help me understand.

        • cambered

          You inhabit a very confusing word, Jay.

          Hoping that your dad didn't really hit you with a shillelagh.

          I always thought that "flipping the bird" referred to the shape of the hand when extending ones middle finger and bending the others at the middle knuckle. Almost resembles a goose in flight… (hehe, I said goose).

          • Jay

            You may be right about the bird thing, cambered. All I know is I see it a lot when someone mentions the movie "Birdemic." There's an epidemic of birds, in fact. Somewhere else on this list I mention "goose" and wonder where the word came from.

      • oliveralbq

        ahh. i havnt spent an entire month in austrailia. my damn crazy cousin's damn crazy husband from n.s.w says bosie. of course, i havnt explained this cricket term to anyone in new orleans without using bosie.

        so, my turn.
        in golf —- first of all, jay has the golf/flog thing right.

        bogey……which of course is pronounced like it rhymes with "hoagie" and "old fogie", unlike the oogy boogie "boogy man" —- of course, bogey (being 1 over par) isn't great, but the origin elluded to what we know as par. and i dont have a clue what those words sound like with your weird aussie accent. bogey….
        birdie — see, again, jay is on the right track —- back in the day, bird did refer to good. if you find any episone of family guy irritating, it's probably the one where peter sings the bird the bird the bird is the word — for 27 mjinutes — song by the trashmen, using bird as a term like…. yo, thats super-fly dope — or, thats fucking tits — or, well, isn't that swell —- all depending on your age and place of origin.
        flipping the bird has brought the term bird back from connotations of grandeur (and 'highness") right back to the denoted "that dude's a fucking asshat, flip him the bird" which in *some* areas of this country is the next step directly before just kicking him in the nuts.
        way older than the trashmen (i wanna say, like, 19=875 or so) bird did mean "cool" in a time where "fly" meant fly and "dope" menat dope. aaah, confusing times, indeed.
        kind of like how i can hardly break 100, but ive had 2 albatrosses — 9 years apart, different courses, different continents, switch-hitting (i'm a lefty, but in high school had righty clubs) —- oh, yeah, and same level of drunkeness each time.

        • cambered

          You have hit two albatrosses? Man, that is super-fly-dope-bird-swell-tits… and definitely not the behaviour of an asshat (hehe). I have hit a couple of eagles in my time, but never come close to a fricken albatross… and I regularly break 90.

          Very familiar with "Surfin Bird" — The Ramones did a swell tits cover.

          Bogey, even with my asshat Aussie accent, rhymes with "hoagie" and indeed "old fogie"… for the sake of clarification, where I was raised, at least, the childhood monster who dwelled 'neath ones bed was referred to as the "bogeyman", as well as the "boogieman".

  • thatguy

    Sorry but these words lists are very boring

    • So,maybe don't read them?

    • jiminicricket

      You obviously need help with this so allow me, what you need to do….. keep scrolling. I know it's hard & it takes a while to figure it out but keep at it & I'm sure you'll get it eventually :)

  • The Annoyed Elephant

    My favorite is "bunkum"… named after Buncombe County, NC (named for Edward Buncombe).

    From Wikitionary:

    In 1820, Felix Walker, who represented Buncombe County, North Carolina, in the U.S. House of Representatives, rose to address the question of admitting Missouri as a free or slave state. This was his first attempt to speak on this subject after nearly a month of solid debate and right before the vote was to be called. Allegedly, to the exasperation of his colleagues, Walker insisted on delivering a long and wearisome "speech for Buncombe."

  • oouchan

    I like the list. I only knew of a few of these. Interesting to read the stories behind them…. especially ones like Mikey and Draconian. I wonder if those on the list would be proud or embarrassed to have their names attached to the new meanings?

    Cool list. :)

  • blake honda

    I got one unexpected origin of words. That word is Hooker. It is speculated that it came from General Joseph Hooker. It's is perfectly descirbed here in wikipedia:

    "There is a popular legend that "hooker" as a slang term for a prostitute is derived from his last name because of parties and a lack of military discipline at his headquarters. Some versions of the legend claim that the band of prostitutes that followed his division were derisively referred to as "General Hooker's Army" or "Hooker's Brigade.However, the term "hooker" was used in print as early as 1845, years before Hooker was a public figure, and is likely derived from the concentration of prostitutes around the shipyards and ferry terminal of the Corlear's Hook area of Manhattan in the early to middle 19th century, who came to be referred to as "hookers". The prevalence of the Hooker legend may have been at least partly responsible for the popularity of the term."

  • Gav

    #6- Oh, the irony!!! Amazing after Thomas Derrick, more people were well-hung than any other time in history

  • oliveralbq-mobile

    @oochan: —-cant nest on mobile——sorry. . . so your question: proud vs. embarrassed. — this screams of individualisticness. where the man behind cassanova would be thrilled, i’m thinking thomas crapper wouldnt have been as happy. —- unless he was a weirdo. –theyre out there, yanno. just imagine if the influx of pride if we started calling toilets “bluesman87s” or if a container for beaver ass juice was known as a “bucslim”.

    • bluesman87

      Man having a signature toilet would be cool ,cooler than having a signature fragrance or shoe. It would have to be built to my exact specification of course( exact and precise mesurements currently available on request ). the seat has to be ceramic or glass (cleanest and coolest materials)- big enough so my junk doesn't have to touch it . Teflon coated bowl with the flush mechanism low down so you can activate it with your foot (again sanitary) .Also a cup holder and arm rests for those long cross country craps . Oh and the deluxe models will have a V6 freon compressor built in the cistern so that when you flush you get the merry clinking of ice cubes not unlike a scotch .

      • oliveralbq

        well, as long as were pulling out year-old listverse jokes today:

        @bluesman87: " big enough so my junk doesn't have to touch it "

        —in your pan pipe dreams, sir.

        • bluesman87

          i know they can never make a toilet seat that big .

    • oouchan

      BAJ aka bucslim…that refreshing drink we all know and love…crack open a cold one today!

      hehe….I know bucslim would be proud!

      • oliveralbq

        our casey kasum sounding podcast guy has a "beaver voice" listed in his credentials, you know.

        • Jay


  • freckledsmile99

    Great list. Interesting – I love knowledge!

  • Justin

    I'm really curious to know how you found out these things.

  • lynching

  • mordechaimordechai

    The Derrick thing was so cool!
    I thought Mesmerize came from Mesmerino the world famous wiz.

  • I had heard of #2, #6, and #9. This was a very interesting list, especially since it combined an element of history with an element of language. A good bonus would have been the word vandal, which was named after the Vandals, who were a barbaric tribe back during the 5th century. They sacked Rome in 455, destroying most of the city. The word vandal or vandalism came to be named after them, which means the ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable.

  • Steven Douglas

    I was completely unaware that Hoover was used as a verb or generic term by anyone in the world. If someone said they were going to "Hoover the carpet", to me it would sound strange, like "Chevy the road" or something. Then again, for Americans there would naturally be some disambiguation to deal with, because we have Herbert Hoover (31st president), Hoover Dam (named after him), and J. Edgar Hoover (first director of the FBI).

    • Peter Sharpe

      Hoover is probably the most common verb for the act of vacuuming over here in the UK. It is also used as a noun for the cleaner itself. Even if you vacuum isn't made by Hoover you would still refer to it as "the hoover". It is also used as a verb in British English to consume something quickly or with enthusiasm, for example. "wow, you really hoovered up that meal!"

    • I actually thought it was more common in the US.But then again I probably watch too much tv lol.

      • Moonbeam

        I live in the US and I never hear people refer to vacuum cleaners as "Hoovers." I think it may be more of a UK thing.

  • cambered

    3) Mondegreen — is an aural malapropism, or mishearing of a phrase. A common example is the line from the Jimi Hendrix track, Purple Haze, "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" ('scuse me while I kiss the sky). The term "mondegreen" was coined by author Sylvia Wright. As a child, Wrights mother used to read to her "The Bonnie Earl of Murray", the final verse of which she interpreted as:

    " Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
    Oh, where hae ye been?
    They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,
    And Lady Mondegreen."

    The final line is, of course, "and laid him on the green".

    • Vera Lynn

      From Ramona the Pest, "the dawnzers lee light"
      The dawn's early light

  • Peter Sharpe

    I have always been interested in word origins. I was in the library recently and came across a book on eponyms. What interested me the most were the ones that we now use as nouns or verbs as opposed to ones just named after people. (e.g. Parkinson's Disease)

    • _mark

      great work! your blog is an internet oasis. ;)

  • stockyzeus

    i believe condom is named after a british man who invented the contraception.

    • Skata

      Condom is a town in France.

    • Jay

      Or who vented about his conception…

  • stockyzeus

    well boiled icicles (well oiled bicycles)

  • 100% REAL


    • Jay

      As a person who's still waiting for that list of Top 10 Car Chases in Movies, I share your frustration. Nevertheless, I got to tell you: there are some fascinating door knobs out there.

      • cambered

        Best car chases in a movie? The top two would have to be:

        #1: The French Connection
        #2: The Blues Brothers

        Anyone beg to differ?

        • bluesman87

          agree blues brothers that is destruction .

  • Great list. I knew the Hoover one. Around here when people talking about a Mickey, they mean a small bottle of liquor, not to drug someone.

  • psychosurfer

    Browsing "Derrick" I found this:
    Don´t miss the lipsynch

  • Nº1 – which one is the one in the photo? and why is there just one photo?

    Nº3 – you explained the meaning of every word but this one (which do not undestand).

  • Should the etymology of etymology be on here?

    • Armin Tamzarian

      The word "etymology" (/?t??m?l?d?i/) derives from Greek ?τυμολογ?α (etumologí?); from ?τυμον (étumon), meaning "true sense", and -λογ?α (-logía), meaning "study"; from λ?γος (lógos), meaning "speech, account, reason."

      At your service.

  • Maggot

    I think Hoover sucks.

    • fairtwiggy1

      Isn't that the point? Ha ha

    • oouchan

      Colonel Sandurz: It's Mega Maid. She's gone from suck to blow.

    • Jay

      Yeah, I was waiting for that one. Over in the classic musical list from a few days ago, the first word on the first picture is "Furtwangler." I'm still looking for someone to jump on that…

      • Maggot

        Yeah, I was waiting for that one.

        Well I admit, it was low hanging fruit…

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Enjoyed the list a good read thanks.

  • supernellie

    In relation to #10. Where I come from (England), taking the mick/mickey is something you'd say if someone is mocking you. ie 'Stop taking the mick'

  • Arsnl

    For all you francophones out there: poubelle (the bin you pit your trash in) comes from eugene poubelle. A mayor of paris that first put them in the city.

  • TEX

    i'll follow – boring indeed

  • Hiamn

    In Ireland you can either be "taking the mickey" ie taking the piss out of someone, deriding them or having a joke at their expense, OR you can have a mickey-mickey being a little boy's term for the male genitalia. On that basis, if anyone MICKEYED my drink, the last thing I'd be doing is putting it anywhere near my mouth!!!

  • timmy the dying boy

    In Canada, "mickey" also refers to a 12 oz flat bottle of liquor. I wonder if there's a connection here.

  • timothyjames

    First list I have been underwhelmed by in a while. I came in with great expectations.

  • fairtwiggy1

    I'm not sure but I think the teddy bear is after theodore roosevelt or maybe its lingerie.

    • cambered

      Yep… teddy bears are named after Teddy Roosevelt.

      Not sure why the lingerie versions are so named.

    • oliveralbq

      on the bear:
      —–cambro is right…… came from teddy roosevelt — he was down here (like…11 milles from here) on a southern mississippi hunting trip. they came across a black bear. after watching his buddies club and corner the bear and tie it to a tree, roosevelt decided it was inhumane and unsportsmenlike. but he ordered a friend to kill it to end it's misery. that led to this cartoon:
      some toy company made a couple to put in it's window as a gag, with signs that said "teddy's bear" and for one unknown reason or another all the kids wanted one. kinda like cabbage patch kids, and pokemon pikachu and other weird fads. except the bear stuck with the kids, and it blew up in popularity.

      as for the lingerie:
      —–ive heard about 13 different counts — i'll try to figure outif one of them is valid

  • TEX

    Just to shore up Peter Sharpe, I grew up hearing about “slipping a Mickey” as it was used frequently by The Three Stooges and also mentioned in many old films – if the plot required that someone be knocked out they simply talked them in to having a drink and went to a local bar to “slip him a Mickey”, either with the cooperation of the bartender or sneak it in the drink themselves, after the victim pass out they’d haul them out back and search, rob, kidnap, or make disappear – whatever the plot required.
    When left alive the victim would always wake and shake it off and say “Hey, somebody slipped me a Mickey.”

    • Jay

      I think I heard that last line in one of the old Thin Man movies with Robert Powell.

  • nice list..

  • magoopaintrock

    If sadism and masochism are two opposite ends of a scale then what exactly is between them?

    • Maggot

      A "safe" word.

    • oliveralbq


      • Maggot

        I think you mean: vanilla sex.

        • oliveralbq

          yeah — but thats sooooo boring

          jesus dude —
          they actually refer to doggy style as kinky. how can i stand behind that?

          i'm semi-annoyed that i even know what this means.

          • Jay

            How can you stand behind doggy style? You got to be hard… (The first person to say *butterface* gets shot!)

          • Maggot

            how can i stand behind that?

            Lol, try going rodeo style.

    • cambered

      A double adaptor?

  • nthensome

    This is one of the best lists in a very long time.
    Well done.

  • cambered

    Love nuts… man, that is too funny..!

    Does she fasten them with a "torque wench"?

    • Jay

      Good one, cambered. But I think she uses "duck" tape. (duct tape) But only when she's being GOOSED. (And where the heck did that come from?)

  • flaminio

    Missing the guillotine, named after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

  • Jay

    I know a bottle of a certain size is called a "gill." I have no idea where that came from, but if Finn sold me a gill, I'd think there was something fishy about that.

    • Skata

      Look in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. I remember seeing it in literature from that period, but don't remember how much it is.

      • cgo26

        …and speaking of Dr. Johnson, a metaphor for male genitilia because….."Dr.Johnson never met anyone he wasn't willing to stand up to". Heard that on the History Chanel.

  • you'rewrong

    Draco's accomplishments sound exactly like those of Hammurabi thousands of years earlier. Literally "set-in-stone" rules and capital punishment being the answer to everything. Not a bad idea, if you think. "What's that? You killed an entire family on purpose and then ate their cat? Okay, wait about 20 years, waste millions of dollars worth of care and courting, and then we'll make you painlessly fall asleep as if you were a baby." I think that that's bullcrap.

    • Maggot

      Draco's accomplishments sound exactly like those of Hammurabi thousands of years earlier.

      Apparently, “hammurabonian” never really caught on.

  • fredelliot

    Really interesting list. Was very interested in ‘Mickey’. I’ve never heard it being used in that context before (must be an American thing), but I’ll make sure I check the label next time I buy a bottle of Mickey Finn’s.

  • Anyone over the age of 12 knows the origin of the word douchebag.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    Earl of Sandwich! YES!

  • cqsteve

    Another one – "When you pray to God you should have hope in your soul", became "When you pray to God you should have soap in your hole".

  • lilkty

    I think that C-section or Cesarean section comes from the way Julius Caesar was born! :D

    • betterthantheoriginalwally

      I think that is an urban myth. The latin word for "to cut" is seco or scindo. That is where the words section and scissors come from in English. The word for Cesarean is more likely from seco. Who knows the truth however is hard to know.

  • Twit

    Who cares about Sandwiches? Derrick should be No.2, that story is awesome.

  • Awesome!

  • sardondi

    A little known but fascinating fact about Etienne de Silhouette is that the same day he discovered his shadow-tracing technique, he dined with his dear friends, Henri Bouillabaisse and Elizabeth Vodka-Tonic, just moments after they had left the salon of Madame de Bas Relief, so that they might avoid an unpleasant meeting with Hermann von Schizo-Phrenia. and his disgusting nephew, Viktor Diarrhea, and hulking manservant, Carbuncle.

    Never in history was there another such situation involving so many persons whose names became words. You can look it up.

  • xjspes

    >Montagu was a very important British statesman, who held many positions of high office in the armed forces and the government. He was an astute politician and an excellent diplomat.

    Well, that's one way to look at it. However:

    ' For corruption and incapacity Sandwich's administration is unique in the history of the British navy. Offices were bought, stores were stolen and, worst of all, ships, unseaworthy and inadequately equipped, were sent to fight the battles of their country.'


    'Despite the number of important posts that he held during his career, Sandwich's incompetence and corruptness inspired the suggestion that his epitaph should read: "Seldom has any man held so many offices and accomplished so little."'

    (BTW – as 'Secretary of State for the Northern Department' Sandwich was not responsible for Northern _England_, but was in charge of diplomatic relations with 'Northern' or Protestant _Europe_.)

  • Robert Francis Kolbe

    I think it might be a Hoover Vacuum ad disguised as fun facts.
    Who calls their sweeper a “hoover?”

    • YouRang?

      Almost everyone in England.

  • jousen

    I know this is a bit offtopic but I want to know your opinion… I have seen a lot of ads about it, saying you can make fast money online, but it might be just a scam…

  • rocketguy79


  • nisslen80


  • lionlionov96


  • Kada

    I was impressed with the way you eseepsxrd your thoughts about My Life My History. I can not belive that somebody can write an amazing story like thet about I love My Life My History.[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • hsnavurxo

    Fuz5vO byroryuindot

  • sdyfhpd0f


  • Anybeasyday


  • Leo

    None of the ten eponyms are living!
    Were any of the ten eponyms alive when they were recognized as epomyms?
    Who are the key people in establishing an eponym and what is the criteria for considering one an eponym?