Eponym

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An eponym is the name of a person, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named. One who is referred to as eponymous is someone who gives his or her name to something, e.g., Julian, the eponymous owner of the famous restaurant Julian's Castle. It is a common error to think that something eponymous is named after a particular person, e.g., Julian's eponymous restaurant.

In contemporary English, the term self-titled is often used to mean eponymous in the case of a work with the same name as the person or persons who created it (e.g., the song "Black Sabbath", from the album Black Sabbath, by the band Black Sabbath).

An etiological myth is a "reverse eponym" in the sense that a legendary character is invented in order to explain a term.

Contents

Political eponyms of time periods

In different cultures, time periods have often been named after the person who ruled during that period.

  • The ancient Greek classic The Odyssey is named after the main character, Odysseus.
  • One of the first recorded cases of eponymy occurred in the second millennium BC, when the Assyrians named each year after a high official (limmu).
  • In Ancient Rome, one of the two formal ways of indicating a year was to cite the two annual consuls who served in that year. For example, the year we know as 59 BC would have been described as "the consulship of Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus and Gaius Julius Caesar" (although that specific year was known jocularly as "the consulship of Julius and Caesar" because of the insignificance of Caesar's counterpart). Under the empire, the consuls would change as often as every two months, but only the two consuls at the beginning of the year would lend their names to that year.

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