Encyclopedia > Eponym

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An eponym is a person (real or fictitious) whose name has become identified with a particular object or activity.

One of the first cases was in second millennium BC, when the Assyrians named each year after a high official (limmu). And in ancient Greece too, the leader of a tribe gave his name to it (as Achaeus[?] for Achaeans, or Dorus for Dorians). Also, the eponym archon was the highest magistrate in Athens and had a yearly charge, and every year was named after the elected one (i.e.: the year 594 BC[?] was named after Solon). But places and towns too could be named after an important figure: Peloponnesus derives its name from Pelops. In Rome, the two annual consuls could give different names to the same year.

The use is today very frequent in science, notably in medicine and in astronomy.

It is important to stress that in correct usage the word applies to the person rather than to the object or the name itself. In the latter cases, use the adjective epynomic.

Here is a list of notable eponyms.

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