Medical Eponyms, the men who have diseases named after them?
It should probably be Dictionary of Medical Namesakes unless it is more about the men than the diseases which take their names. Using an unfamiliar world like eponym lends itself, however, to the obfuscating nature of science.

Eponymous versus Namesake

These two words are easily confused, and sometimes the dictionaries will not help because dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive. This means they let us know that the ways words are being used, not how they should be used. Unfortunately, this can also reinforce incorrect usage.

For example, Oxford gives these two definitions for eponymous: “(person) giving their name to something” and "(thing) named after a particular person." I argue here that the former is correct, and the latter is not. Merriam-Webster’s gets it right, but does so in a rather confusing manner: "Of, relating to, or being the person or thing for whom or which something is named." Huh? The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language doesn’t even include what I would deem proper usage: "named after something else or deriving from an existing name or word."


Eponymous is Greek for "upon name" and is normally reserved for the person who gives his or her name to something. It is often used in literature when the piece is named after one of the main characters: Moby Dick is the eponymous whale for which the book is named.


This brings us to namesake, which is the opposite. It is the person or thing that is named after another person or thing. Disney World is the namesake of Walt Disney, and the term Freudian slip is the namesake of Sigmund Freud. They are for the sake of their founder's name, a name's sake. 

When researching this piece, I learned of a couple of twists. More straightforward are the common noun namesakes with eponymous inventors. For example, Captain Charles C. Boycott was the eponymous land agent firstly shunned by the Irish Land League; James Brudenell, the seventh earl of Cardigan, is the eponymous wearer of the buttoned-down sweater; and the 4th earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, is the eponymous man who popularized the sandwich.

Others include chauvinism, gerrymandering, jumbo, leotard, luddite, lynch, masochism, pompadour, sadism, and sideburns. I find these interesting because their origins have been lost to history, to the point that we do not even recognize their proper-noun origins by capitalizing the first letter.

Proprietary Eponyms

There are also generic namesakes that come from eponymous brand names. Q-tips for cotton swabs, Band-Aids for adhesive bandages, Kleenex for facial tissue, Kool-Aid for flavored powder drink mix, and Walkman for a portable audio cassette player. These are referred to as proprietary eponyms.

Just to add something I found a little perplexing: Xerox, which was originally the Haloid Company before renaming itself after its big, new product, is a namesake for the eponymous photocopiers, Xerox machines, which are now eponymous nouns and verbs for photocopiers and photocopying, respectively.