Some Obscure Eponyms – 20 Words

saxophone

a single-reed woodwind with a conical bore

He has never had any formal voice training, but plays the drums and saxophone and a little keyboard by ear.
—Washington Times May 13, 2014
bougainvillea

any of several South American ornamental woody vines of the genus Bougainvillea having brilliant red or purple flower bracts; widely grown in warm regions

The landscape is a gardener’s dream, dotted with mature oak and magnolia trees, hydrangeas, bougainvillea, and roses, and it has plentiful space for additional greenery.
—Architectural Digest Dec 23, 2013
braille

a point system of writing in which patterns of raised dots represent letters and numerals

A small number of chain restaurants offer menus in braille; sometimes, they’re even up to date.
—The Guardian May 22, 2014
bloomers

underpants worn by women

Lady cyclists inspired outrage and ridicule in the late nineteenth century when they sallied forth in bloomers, which were subsequently adopted by the suffrage movement.
—The New Yorker Jun 6, 2014
chauvinism

fanatical patriotism

Nick Clegg is due to warn against letting the “forces of insularity and chauvinism” dictate Britain’s future in Europe.
—BBC May 19, 2014
Cyrillic

an alphabet derived from the Greek alphabet and used for writing Slavic languages (Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and some other Slavic languages)

Volvo hasn’t committed to bringing the plug-in diesel vehicle to the United States, since diesels make up such a small part of the U.S. market.
—Forbes Jun 5, 2014
diesel

an internal-combustion engine that burns heavy oil

When it comes to bad decision making, these folks deserve their dunce caps.
—Newsweek Apr 23, 2010
dunce cap

a cone-shaped paper hat formerly placed on the head of slow or lazy pupils

Begin with some of the common herbaceous bedding-plants, such as geranium, coleus, or fuschia.
—Ontario Ministry of Education
fuschia

a tropical shrub with showy drooping flowers

He delivered us to our hotel, where the man on the door was carrying a semi-automatic full-size Uzi pistol.
—BBC Jun 23, 2013
Uzi

a type of submachine gun that is designed and manufactured in Israel

Gardenia, one of the South’s iconic shrubs, begins perfuming the air.
—Southern Living May 13, 2013
gardenia

any of various shrubs and small trees of the genus Gardenia having large fragrant white or yellow flowers

In addition to the killings by organized groups, individual vigilante mobs carried out retaliatory lynchings, Amnesty said in its report.
—New York Times Feb 12, 2014
lynching

putting a person to death by mob action without due process

Visiting foreign leaders normally make a trip to the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
—BBC Jun 9, 2014
mausoleum

a large burial chamber, usually above ground

The first eight mile of that road is pretty good macadam and hard dirt.
— Joseph C. Lincoln
macadam

a paved surface having compressed layers of broken rocks held together with tar

But the victims might only, at best, achieve a pyrrhic victory: Should they win, they would still have to collect a judgment.
—Slate Feb 13, 2014
nicotine

an alkaloid poison that occurs in tobacco

Intriguingly, in a demonstration of the importance of serendipity in science, this was not a hypothesis they had set out to prove.
—Economist May 29, 2014
pyrrhic

relating to a victory that is offset by staggering losses

Lengthy sideburns and scruffy hipster beards — not the norm in eastern Tennessee — are de rigueur for the under-30 set.
—New York Times Feb 3, 2014
serendipity

good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries

The Roswell research found, generally, that when battery voltage increased to 4.8 volts from 3.2 volts, toxin levels increased markedly.
—New York Times May 3, 2014
sideburn

facial hair that has grown down the side of a man’s face in front of the ears (especially when the rest of the beard is shaved off)

Few sights are as beautiful as wisteria trained along the roofline and railings of an antebellum house.
—Southern Living Feb 21, 2013
volt

a unit of potential equal to the potential difference between two points on a conductor carrying a current of 1 ampere when the power dissipated between the two points is 1 watt; equivalent to the potential difference across a resistance of 1 ohm when 1 ampere of current flows through it

wisteria

any flowering vine of the genus Wisteria
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