English Language; Drama & Speech; Social Etiquette. Est. 1986, Hong Kong

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16 September 2016

When a Person Becomes a Noun, Adjective or Verb!

An eponym can be used to avoid repetition in a sentence, as in, “A native of San Francisco, Wang ditched Parsons in 2004 to launch his eponymous brand [clothing], inspired by his love of nightlife” (sentence taken from a Google search). Guess what was the name of the fashion brand? “Wang” of course!

Eponyms can be also used like an allusion (making an indirect reference to something) when referring to a famous person. Therefore the word develops a link between that person and its connections, and through this connection, readers are able to understand the idea easily.

The scope of eponym is wide. It can be found everywhere, as we can easily find its frequent use in literature, politics, advertising, sciences, discoveries, music, films, and medicine. Often they are used to remember the importance of his or her contribution to some field.

Let’s take the verb, “to boycott” for example. This word means to “combine in abstaining from, or preventing dealings with, as a means of intimidation or coercion” as in, “I will boycott that store as it sells goods that are not ethically sourced”.

How the word “boycott” came into the English language

Faced with economic hardship in the 1800s a group of Irish tenant farmers petitioned their absentee landlord for reduced rent. Instead the landlord sent his land agent Charles C. Boycott to evict the tenants. In response the tenants and their supporters enacted a plan. They didn’t greet Mr. Boycott or conduct any business with him. Locals refused to work in his house, field or stable. The mail carrier didn’t deliver.