Over lunch with a friend yesterday I somehow got sidetracked (as am very wont to do) onto an eponym and that got me thinking about lists. Am very nerdy that way.
I like going through lists. Not because it’s comforting or because holding a list in my hand curbs my tendencies of having to knock on wood 3 times or wash my hands clockwise and then anti-clockwise 5 times. No. A list is pure gold. It’s info baby! Of any sort.
When I was a teen and sneakily surfing on Altavista and Yahoo Search (yes…those days of yore) with my gang of gals for lists of hunks or hunks with scarce amounts of clothing, or for pictures of the then flavor of the month hunk (teen gals, whaddya gonna do) the lists would be a delight to go through.
Fast forward a few years and you’re making a wedding lists a list for stuff you’ll need when the baby comes, a list for how much the baby’s fed, the rise and fall of the kid’s temperature and as well as the perennial shopping list for grocery and household supplies. Somewhere down the line comes the list of assets for whenever you shuffle off the mortal coil. But today’s list isn’t that grim. It’s actually interesting. And I write this with all the nerdiness I can capable of!
Presenting a list of eponymous things…but with a twist..
- Shirley Temple- not just America’s tiny yesteryear’s sweetheart but a drink too! The story goes that the wait staff at a Hollywood restaurant overheard the little girl whining when her parents wouldn’t give her a sip of their old-fashioned cocktails. A member of the staff mixed up a kid-friendly version made with a splash of grenadine, a cup of ginger ale, and garnished it with a signature maraschino cherry to emulate the old-fashioned cocktails her parents drank. One sip of the sweet, fizzy drink was all it took to quiet her cries.
- Sideburns- Sideburns were all the rage in the American Civil War well before Elvis Presley was even born. The popular male hair trend of bushy whiskers on the cheeks was originally called burnsides after the Union Army General Ambrose E. Burnside. His wildly different facial hair first caught people’s attention during a parade in Washington D.C. as he led his regiment of Rhode Island volunteers. By the 1880s, the name was switched to sideburns.
- Silhouette- Before there were selfies, painted or paper cutout silhouettes were the most affordable portraits that adorned people’s homes during the 18th century. Many people loved their silhouette selfies, but the man for who they were named after was anything but loved. France’s finance minister at the time, Étienne de Silhouette, had a reputation for being a frugal French man and was often seen making the cut-paper shadow portraits, himself, in his free time. Because of his cheap ways and favorite hobby, the French phrase “à la Silhouette“ came to mean “on the cheap” and the shadow portraits were named after Silhouette to poke fun at him as well.
- Maverick- Before Tom Cruise popularized it there was Samuel A. Maverick, the 19th century Texan lawyer. He had a client who settled a $1,200 debt with him in livestock—400 cattle worth. Instead of branding the cattle as his own, Maverick let the animals roam free and unbranded, a rookie rancher mistake. Little did he know that neighboring stockmen were stealing his stray cattle and branding them as their own. Once Maverick came to his senses, he sold the rest of his depleted herd. Soon, his last name was used to refer to people who preferred to go against the crowd and blaze their own trails.
- And last but not the least…Bobbit- a verb eponym meaning a man who has had his penis cut off by his wife. Coined in 1993 after Lorena Bobbit emasculated her husband when he was sleeping.
Here endeth the lesson for today. Come back tomorrow when we return to our usual program of me and my offspring.