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What's in a Name?: How Proper Names Became Everday Words Paperback – April 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Venn diagram, Möbius strip, and Achilles' heel are all phrases that clearly derive from the names of the persons who described, discovered, or inspired them. But a lot of English words one would never know had originated in proper names. So knowing, however, enriches one's understanding of the word, whether the person behind it is real or imagined, historical or literary, a scientist or a mythical figure. The next time you see a maverick (Samuel Augustus Maverick, Texas cattle rancher) epicure (Epicurus, Greek philosopher) whisk up a tantalizing béchamel sauce (Marquis de Béchamel), don't hector (Trojan hero) him about his sideburns (Union general Ambrose Everett Burnside) or his cardigan (James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of). Just grab a sandwich (also Earl of), your favorite teddy bear (President T. Roosevelt), and a copy of Eugene Ehrlich's wonderfully entertaining What's in a Name, for a laze under the bougainvillea (Louis Antoine de Bougainville). No Baedeker (German publisher) can recommend an afternoon better spent. --Jane Steinberg


"Utterly absorbing accounts of words that owe their origins to the deeds and misdeeds of real and fictional people. Well worth investigation." (Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe)

"Eugene Ehrlich's researches offer the most exhaustive collection yet of eponyms-proper names that have been transformed into the language we use every day." (Jonathon Green, author of Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made)

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