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A New Dictionary of Eponyms

by Morton S. Freeman

Created about a century ago, the term eponym is itself a coinage from two Greek words, epi, "on" or "upon," and onama, "a name." But its broadened meaning, as dictionaries set it out, refers to a word derived from a proper name. For instance, Salisbury steak--a popular diner menu item created from common hamburger and dressed up with brown gravy to make it more appealing--is named for James H. Salisbury, an English physician who promoted a diet of ground beef. A Dictionary of Eponyms explores the origins of hundreds of these everyday words from Argyle socks to zeppelins. Written in an entertaining and anecdotal style, and with a foreword by Edwin Newman, the book includes a brief biography of the individual whose name became associated with an item or concept as well as information on how and when the name entered the language. If you've ever wondered just where terms like cardigan sweater, pamphlet, and robot come from, Morton Freeman does more than simply define them--he brings them to life.

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