It’s generally well known that the wellington boot was named after the first Duke of Wellington, who first came up with the idea of that particular style of footwear. Here’s a fascinating piece on Flavorwire about words like this whose origins can be traced back to people in history. Who knew, for example, that ‘decibel’ is named after Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone?
20 Words You Didn’t Know Were Inspired by People
Given that all we do is write about culture all day, we at Flavorpill are always fascinated by words and the tricksy ways they come to be. Recently, we’ve been thinking about the etymology of common words, particularly the ones that can be traced back to specific people in history, whether authors, scientists, or just wealthy estate agents who were, well, boycotted by the town around them. After the jump, twenty common words that originated as people’s names — and there are many more, so add your favorite to the list in the comments!
The 7th Earl of Cardigan. Portrait by Sir Francis Grant
begonia — “Any of various tropical or subtropical plants of the genus Begonia, widely cultivated as ornamentals for their usually asymmetrical, brightly colored leaves.” After Michel Bégon (1638-1710), former governor of the French colony of Haiti and patron of botany.
bloomers — “A costume formerly worn by women and girls that was composed of loose trousers gathered about the ankles and worn under a short skirt.” After Amelia Bloomer, a women’s rights advocate who popularized the style in the early 1850s.
Read the rest of the Flavorwire piece to discover the other 18 words …