Tag Archives: eponyms
hobby

hobby

      According to one theory, the noun hobby, in its original sense of a small horse or pony, is from the French noun of same meaning formerly spelt hobin, obin, etc., now aubin. This theory says that this noun is from the French verb hober, to move, derived from the verb hobeler, to […]

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to burke

to burke

      MEANING   – to murder in such a way as to leave no marks on the body, usually by suffocation – figuratively: to get rid of, silence, or suppress     ORIGIN   While some chose the profession of body-snatching, for others it was a more accidental career. William Burke and William […]

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Bunbury

Bunbury

  photograph: Oscar Wilde     None knew so well as I: For he who lives more lives than one More deaths than one must die. Oscar Wilde – The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1897)     MEANING   an imaginary person used as a fictitious excuse for visiting a place or avoiding obligations   […]

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facilis descensus Averno

facilis descensus Averno

  Aeneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus (circa 1798), by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) – image: Tate       MEANING   It is easy to slip into evil or immoral ways.     ORIGIN   Lake Avernus (in Italian Lago Averno) is a crater lake in Campania, southern Italy, near Cumae and Puteoli, […]

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malapropism

malapropism

        MEANING   the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, especially when creating a ridiculous effect     ORIGIN   The word malapropos means, as an adverb, in an inopportune or inappropriate way, and, as an adjective, inopportune or inappropriate. It is from the French locution […]

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paparazzi

paparazzi

  Walter Santesso (center) as Paparazzo in La Dolce Vita photograph: Cine Bazar       The common noun paparazzo and its plural form paparazzi were first used in English in the American magazine Time of 14th April 1961: Paparazzi on the Prowl ROMAN PHOTOGRAPHERS BLOCKADING SORAYA’S CAR Buzzing, hovering, darting, stinging. On Rome’s Via […]

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jeremiad

jeremiad

  Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (circa 1630), by Rembrandt (1606-69)       Jeremiah (circa 650-585 BC) was a Hebrew prophet who foresaw the fall of Assyria, the conquest of his country by Egypt and Babylon, and the destruction of Jerusalem. He is traditionally regarded as the author or part-author of two Old […]

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clink

clink

  Winchester House (from a view by Hollar, 1660)         MEANING   prison     ORIGIN   The Clink was the name of a prison in Southwark, London. A Svrvay of London. Conteyning the Originall, Antiquity, Increase, Moderne estate, and description of that City, written in the yeare 1598, by Iohn Stow […]

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Derby

Derby

  recruitment poster for the Derby scheme       The Derby is an annual flat race for three-year-old horses, founded in 1780 by the twelfth Earl of Derby (1752-1834), and run on Epsom Downs, in Surrey, England. The result of the first Derby, which took place on Thursday 4th May, was published in the London […]

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blotto

blotto

  image: Tonton Vélo       MEANING   drunk     ORIGIN   The word originated in World War One British military slang. It was first recorded by Ward Muir in Observations of an Orderly: Some Glimpses of Life and Work in an English War Hospital, published in July 1917: The words for drunkenness are […]

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