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The Mythological Greek hero Orion is the eponym of the constellation Orion, shown here, and thus indirectly of the Orion spacecraft.[1]
Eponym and namesake

An eponym is a person or thing, whether real or fictional, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named.[2] For example, Léon Theremin is the eponym of the theremin, an electronic musical instrument; Louis Braille is the eponym of the Braille word system created by him for use by the blind. Eponyms are aspects of etymology.

A synonym of "eponym" is namegiver (not to be confused with namesake). Someone who (or something that) is referred to with the adjective eponymous is the eponym of something. An example is: "Léon Theremin, known as the eponymous inventor of the theremin."

All major dictionaries of the English language also enter at least one sense of "eponym" in which the thing named can be called eponymous. For example, medical terms for diseases (such as "Parkinson disease") are called eponyms.[3][4] However, good usage advice for careful writers is that they should avoid overuse of these senses, because their overuse annoys many readers. It is long- and well-established usage to call terms such as "Down syndrome" or "DeBakey needle holder" eponyms; but careful usage includes using "self-titled" rather than "eponymous" when describing self-titled music albums, and refraining from calling businesses named after their owners (such as "Pat's Diner") "eponymous" (such businesses are ubiquitous, but the use of the word "eponymous" is better left non-ubiquitous).

An etiological myth can be a "reverse eponym" in the sense that a legendary character is invented in order to explain a term, such as the nymph Pirene, who according to myth was turned into Pirene's Fountain.


In different cultures, time periods have often been named after the person who ruled during that period:

Other eponyms[edit]

Lists of eponyms[edit]

By person's name

By category

Orthographic conventions[edit]

Capitalized versus lowercase[edit]

For examples, see the comparison table below.

Genitive versus attributive[edit]

National varieties of English[edit]

Comparison table of eponym orthographic styling[edit]

Prevalent dictionary styling todayStylings that defy prevalent dictionary stylingComments
Addison disease[7]*Addison Disease
*addison disease
Allemann syndrome[7]*Allemann Syndrome
*allemann syndrome
cesarean [only][7]
cesarean also cesarian [but no cap variant][4]
cesarean, "often capitalized" or caesarean also cesarian or caesarian[8]
 The full information on this word's orthographic variants is at cesarean section > orthography.
darwinian [only][7]
darwinism [only][7]
Darwinian [only][3][4]
Darwinism [only][3][4]
Darwinist [only][3][4]
diesel (n/adj/vi) [no cap variant][3][4]
and also
diesel engine[3][4]
dieselize, dieselization[4]
*Diesel engine
*Dieselize, Dieselization
draconian often Draconian[4]
eustachian [only][7]
eustachian often Eustachian[4]
eustachian tube [only][7]
eustachian tube often Eustachian tube[4]
eustachian tube or Eustachian tube[3]
*Eustachian Tube 
fallopian [only][7]
fallopian often Fallopian[4]
fallopian tube [only][7]
fallopian tube often Fallopian tube[4]
fallopian tube also Fallopian tube[3]
*Fallopian Tube 
Marxism [only][3][4]
Marxist [only][3][4]
mendelian [only][7] or Mendelian [only][4]
mendelian inheritance [only][7] or Mendelian inheritance [only][4] 
Mendel's laws[4][7]
*Mendelian Inheritance 
Newtonian [only][3][4]*newtonian 
parkinsonism [only][4][7]
parkinsonian [only][4][7]
parkinsonian tremor[7]
Parkinson disease [only][7]
Parkinson's disease [only][4]
*Parkinsonian tremor
*Parkinsonian Tremor
*Parkinson Disease
*Parkinson's Disease
quixotic [only][3][4]*Quixotic 
Roman numerals[3]
roman numerals[4]
 AMA Manual of Style lowercases the terms roman numerals and arabic numerals. MWCD enters the numeral sense under the headword Roman but with the note "not cap" on the numeral sense.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orion
  2. ^ Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. "eponym". Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Houghton Mifflin (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed ed.), Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-82517-4 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Merriam-Webster (1993), Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed ed.), Springfield, Massachusetts, USA: Merriam-Webster, ISBN 978-0-87779-707-4 
  5. ^ University of Chicago (1993), The Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.), Chicago, Illinois, USA: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-10389-7, section 7.49, pp. 253–254. 
  6. ^ Iverson, Cheryl (editor) (2007), AMA Manual of Style (10 ed.), Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517633-9 , chapter 16: Eponyms.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Elsevier (2007), Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary (31st ed ed.), Philadelphia: Elsevier, ISBN 978-1-4160-2364-7 
  8. ^ Merriam-Webster (2003), Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed ed.), Springfield, Massachusetts, USA: Merriam-Webster, ISBN 978-0-87779-809-5 

External links[edit]