Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eponyms from A to Z . . . Almost

 Words derived from names of hers or hims
   Are what are known as eponyms.
   To wit: Aloysius Alzheimer’s
   Last name’s the bane of old timers.
   At least according to some rumors
   Amelia Bloomer wore nice bloomers.
   And there’s Anders Celsius
   Whose temperatures are known to us.
   Do you suppose that Rudolf Diesel
   Drew his engine at an easel?
   An architect, Mr. Gustave Eiffel
   Designed the tower, no mere trifle.
   O, the temps of Gabriel Fahrenheit;
   Only the US thinks he’s got them right.
   Robert John Lechmere Guppy, as you’ve probably guessed,
   Is why the fishes got their name. Aren’t you impressed?
   Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was fond of desserts,
   And his unit of frequency, the hertz, got him just deserts.
   From Irene, the Greek goddess of peace,
   We get irenic. Will wonders ever cease?
   James Prescott Joule discovered the joule,
   A unit of heat. That’s really cool.
   William King was the first hotel cook
   To prepare chicken a la king. I read it in a book.
   Jules Leotard, the daring young man on the flying trapeze,
   Wore his leotard to fly with the greatest of ease.
   From Jean Martinet, a French army officer, disciplinarian,
   We get martinet, who’s a stickler for rules and is authoritarian.
   Jean Nicot thought tobacco was really quite keen;
   Then they called some of its bad stuff nicotine.
   Ransom E. Olds built the car and made a deal
   To sell his very shiny Oldsmobile.
   In Mexico, John Roberts Poinsett ignored the operetta
   And went searching for the elusive poinsettia.
   The Norwegian Vidkun Quisling was a traitor to his nation,
   Now a quisling is thought lower than a crustacean.
   Cesar Ritz owned hotels that were glitzy
   And soon everyone said his inns were ritzy.
   Bullets and pellets from an exploding shell
   Was the work of the limey, Henry Shrapnel.
   When there’s much too much food for the stomach to bear
   You can store all the extra in Mr. Tupper’s Tupperware.
   Eponyms? The Greek god of the sky has two of ’em:
   The planet Uranus and all that Uranium.
   Alessandro Volta’s battery gave the world a jolt,
   So a unit of electric potential is now called a volt.
   Thomas Nuttall, who knew his flowers and plants,
   Called one wisteria, for Caspar Wistar, who looked askance.
   Eponyms starting with X or Y are arcane and hard to rhyme.
   I hope you don’t mind if I skip them this time.

   Johann Gottfried Zinn got a moment of fame
   When they chose zinnia for the plant’s name.

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