27 famous words that come from surnames


It is no secret that our surnames most often have a completely understandable origin, being associated either with the occupation of our ancestors, or with their nickname, or with certain objects. And this practice exists in almost all languages. But sometimes the opposite situation occurs – a certain remarkable person gives a name to an object associated with him. And now we use the word in everyday life, forgetting who exactly and why it was originally associated.

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The most famous story is with the guillotine, named after the French doctor Joseph Guillotin. And few people already remember that even he was not the inventor of this mechanism, but simply at one time suggested using it as a more humane instrument of execution.

Joseph Guillotin

Joseph Guillotin

But in our language there are many other words that appeared thanks to some surnames. And such an origin in some cases may turn out to be an interesting surprise for many.

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Cardigan

This is the name we know for a knitted sweater with buttons and a large V-neck. But the clothing item loved by fashionistas appeared not in the head of the couturier, but thanks to northern fishermen back in the 9th century. Commoners, the French and the British, used comfortable clothing until the middle of the 19th century. And then something significant happened – General James Thomas Bradnell (aka Earl of Cardigan), ordered his subordinates to wear knitted jackets under military uniforms to save them from frost. In addition to the fact that they really helped to keep warm, so also the neckline, the absence of a collar made it possible to remain invisible under the form. Clothing became popular, and soldiers began to call this sweater with a neckline and buttons after the count, who initiated the fashion. So the word “cardigan” became common.

James Thomas Bradnell (aka Earl of Cardigan)

James Thomas Bradnell (Earl of Cardigan)

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Boycott

Nowadays, this word is no longer used so often. But, I remember, in my childhood I did not do without boycotts – this form of punishment was very offensive and cruel. In politics, a boycott is a voluntary protest with the rejection of something: trade, relations with an organization, people or country. This word first appeared in English, from where it got into ours. And it owes its origin to the British officer Charles Boycott.

Charles Boycott

Charles Boycott

In 1880, having already retired from service and turned into a land manager, he decided to organize the harvest with the help of hired workers from the neighboring county. An ad was given. The thing is that local residents, dissatisfied with the proposed conditions, had earlier declared a strike. They did not like the manager’s rational approach, which is why it was decided to ignore Boycott in every possible way. They stopped greeting him, they defiantly shunned him both on the street and in establishments. The British newspaper The Times wrote about this striking case, and grasping journalists quickly came up with the verb “boycott”, associated with the name of the poor manager.

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Lovelace

And this word appeared in our lexicon, thanks not to a real, but a fictional character. Sir Robert Lovelace was described in Samuel Richardson’s novel Clarissa, or the Story of a Young Lady as early as 1748. The story is based on the seduction of the main character, the naive 16-year-old Clarissa Harlow, by a beautiful aristocrat.

Robert Lovelace persuades Clarissa to run away. Painter: Francis Hayman

Robert Lovelace persuades Clarissa to run away. Painter: Francis Hayman

And the surname of this literary character has since become a common name. So they began to call the seducers who are looking for love adventures and victories. It is interesting that in fact, in the correct transcription, Robert Lovelace sounds like Lovelace, but the word “womanizer” has stuck in our language.

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Fuchsia

Quite often, new species of plants and animals are named after certain famous personalities. So, in 1696, the French botanist Charles Plumier went on his next expedition to the West Indies. The scientist visited the territory of the modern Dominican Republic, where he discovered a new plant. It was decided to name this evergreen shrub after Leonart von Fuchs. The German botanist and physician is also considered one of the founders of botany. The bright shrub flower, in turn, gave its name to the color, which is close to purple.

Leonart von Fuchs

Leonart von Fuchs

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Tapestry

Tapestry

Woven carpets have had different names throughout history. The very same word “tapestry” appeared in France in the 17th century with the advent of the royal manufactory there. She was based in the district of Faubourg-Saint-Marseille in Paris. Its founder was the Tapestry family from Flanders, weavers and wool dyers. And the address of the manufactory was as follows: Avenue of the Tapestries, house 42. The products of this enterprise were in demand, so that in some countries they even called tapestry and carpets made with the technique of tapestry weaving. So this term remained in common use, and is used by us today.

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Silhouette

Silhouette

Interestingly, the person whose name is associated with fashion, style and clothing was actually associated with money. Etienne de Silhouette, albeit not for long, less than a year, but stayed as the controller of finance for the French king Louis XV. The official had a difficult task – to solve the problem of the country’s budget deficit. The silhouette decided to take drastic measures, which caused a storm of indignation from the nobility. The financier urged to abandon unnecessary spending, as a result his stinginess gave rise to the expression à la Silhouette, which was associated with cheap and low-quality things “from Silhouette”.

At the same time, shadow profiles cut from black paper became popular. Such portraits not only carried a certain style, they were also an inexpensive alternative to classical portraits – few could afford them. Those who contemptuously considered it cheap, called such creations à la Silhouette (“silhouette”). It is interesting that the financier himself was engaged in similar creativity – as an entertainment, he circled the silhouettes of his guests on the wall.

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Sequoia

These trees are rightfully considered to be almost the largest on Earth. They reach a height of 110 meters. And the name was given to them by the leader of the Cherokee Indian tribe, who also invented the syllabic alphabet. The tree species was discovered by Scottish botanist David Don. In 1824 he gave the red tree the name – evergreen taxodium (Taxodium sempervirens). But in 1847, the Austrian botanist Stefan Endlicher invented a new name for the giant – sequoia, apparently in honor of the Sequoia (aka George Hess) – the leader of the Cherokee Indian tribe. Sequoia is the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary and the founder of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper in the Cherokee language.

George Hess (Sequoia)

George Hess (Sequoia)

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Paparazzi

Paparazzi

This name is regularly referred to as annoying photographers who constantly harass celebrities in the hope of capturing something spicy. Naturally, the stars themselves are absolutely not happy with such attention and do not give consent to the shooting. And the word appeared in everyday life in 1960 with the release of the tragicomedy “La Dolce Vita” directed by Federico Fellini. In this film, the friend of the protagonist is the photographer Paparazzo, from whose name the new word came about.

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Rhinestones

Many women of fashion use these pieces of glass, which look very much like precious stones. And the fashion for such jewelry appeared in the Middle Ages. True, the decoration received its modern name at the end of the 18th century. Then the glassmaker and jeweler from Alsace, Georg Strass, was able to obtain potassium glass with a high lead content. This material is perfect for creating jewelry that imitates expensive purebred diamonds with high quality.

Georg Strass

Georg Strass

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Pilates

Pilates is especially fashionable these days. And this fitness technique was invented by the German-American specialist Josef Pilates. The system was created by him at the beginning of the 20th century to help people with physical injuries to rehabilitate as soon as possible.

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates

Joseph himself grew up very painful from childhood, suffering rickets, asthma and rheumatism. All these adversities prompted him to take care of health and strengthen his body. By the age of 14, Pilates was in good shape, and after a while he even became a professional athlete: he was engaged in boxing, bodybuilding. After emigrating to the United States, he opened a school for a healthy lifestyle, in which he talked about his own system of physical exercises to eliminate muscle imbalances, improve posture, coordination and balance.

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Praline

This sweet name belongs to a paste consisting of ground nuts (they can be hazelnuts or almonds), as well as vanilla, sugar and cream. This confectionery mixture is commonly used in the production of sweets. And the unknown chef of the Duke Cesar du Plessis-Pralen Choiseul came up with a delicious pasta. This French ambassador lived in the Spanish Netherlands for a long time. It was the duke who first tasted the new sweet dessert, which was named after the nobleman many years later.

César du Plessis-Pralen Choiseul

César du Plessis-Pralen Choiseul

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Sandwich

Card games have been a favorite pastime of many English aristocrats for many years, this is a kind of tradition. John Montague, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who lived back in the 18th century, especially singled out cribbage for himself. For card games, the nobleman could sit for hours, but in order not to be distracted by eating and satisfying his hunger right during the game, the Englishman had two slices of bread with a piece of meat between them. This made it possible to satisfy the appetite, but at the same time not to get your hands dirty by touching the meat. And if earlier such a food combination was called simply a sandwich, then over time it was nicknamed a sandwich, in honor of the gambling, but at the same time loving to eat, count.

John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich

John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich

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Maecenas

Nowadays, this phenomenon is an integral part of charity. This is the name of wealthy people who help cultural figures with money. These can be writers, poets, artists, whose work, for some reason, is not appreciated by society or the state. The help of a private person allows you to continue to create and open up new horizons. And the word itself comes from the name of a wealthy Roman, Gaius Cilnius Maecenas. He was a confidant of Emperor Octavian Augustus himself. Under his patronage, Maecenas allocated considerable sums to support creative people, of whom there were always many in Rome.

Tiepolo Giovanni Battista.

Tiepolo Giovanni Battista. “The patron presents the liberal arts to Emperor Augustus”

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Trousers

In the 16th century, there were still very few permanent theaters – actors wandered, giving performances in different cities, often in squares and fairs. In Italian performances, some of the characters were consistent, as they were loved everywhere. These heroes performed in masks and costumes, but almost the most popular was the wealthy Venetian merchant Pantalone. He was recognized by the audience immediately, due to the “trademark” long red pants. Over the years, these clothes began to be called pantaloons.

merchant Pantalone

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Attic

This word owes its origin to the French architect François Mansard, who lived in the 17th century. I must say that he was not the first to come up with the idea of ​​arranging living quarters in high rooftops.

Francois Mansart

Francois Mansart

But Mansart became famous for the fact that it was he who focused on turning attics into apartments. And such projects gave rise to the appearance of windows on the roofs, which also began to be practiced by a bold architect. And attics became popular in Paris, as this housing was not taxed – the authorities collected money from property owners depending on the number of floors.

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Breeches

This is the name of a special cut of trousers, tight-fitting shins, widening at the hips and tucked into boots. The clothes are named in honor of the French general Gaston Gallifet, who supplied his cavalry with it at the end of the 19th century. They say that such an unusual shape was invented by the general to hide either his injury or crooked legs – for riders this was a common thing. Later, breeches began to be used in other armies. These trousers quickly became popular with women. Interestingly, the French themselves call this garment much simpler – culotte bouffante or “slouchy trousers”.

Gaston Alexander Auguste de Gallifet

Gaston Alexander Auguste de Gallifet

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Jacuzzi

The word is clearly associated with some Italian surname, but at the same time there are obvious mistakes in its pronunciation. In the original, we are talking about Jacuzzi, which sounds like “yakuzzi”. At the beginning of the last century, seven Italian brothers moved to America. One of the Yakuzzi opened his own company, at first it was engaged in the production of aircraft, and then – hydraulic pumps for agriculture. Over time, Candido Yakuzzi invented a device that became the prototype for a hot tub. His brothers improved the invention, and the surname of an enterprising family became a common noun in many languages, including Russian.

Candido Yakuzzi

Candido Yakuzzi

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Saxophone

The wind instrument was created by the Belgian craftsman Adolphe Sachs in 1842. The inventor, who at that time already had several patents, was looking for new ways to fill the musical space. This is how the “mouthpiece ophicleid” was born. The name of the instrument was difficult to remember. Sachs’s friend, composer Hector Berlioz, describing the invention in his article called it simply “saxophone”. Everyone immediately liked this simple word and became popular.

Adolf Sachs

Adolf Sachs

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Libel

Pasquin statue

Pasquin statue

In Rome, on one of the streets, you can find an antique statue dating back to the 3rd century. It is so worn out that it is already not clear to whom it was dedicated. The statue was found in the 16th century and installed near the place of residence of the shoemaker Pasquino. Anyone who wished had the opportunity to attach to the silent marble figure their own satirical proclamation, ridiculing any person or group of people. So these messages were called “libels”.

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Whatman

Thick high-quality white paper got its name already in the Soviet era. In fact, there was an abbreviation of the name “Whatman paper” or Whatman paper. That was the name of the product of James Whatman’s paper mill. In all fairness, it’s worth noting that it’s correct to pronounce his name like Watman.

James Whatman

James Whatman

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Masochism

This term became popular after the publication of the works of the Austrian Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895). In his novels “The Divorced Woman” and “Venus in Furs”, he very picturesquely described how despotic women mock weak men.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

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Beef stroganoff

This word has a mixed Russian-French origin. Count Alexander Stroganov had a French chef, as was fashionable. He came up with a new dish. It got its name in the French manner – bœuf Stroganoff or Stroganoff beef.

Count Alexander Stroganov

Count Alexander Stroganov

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Блютус

Довольно часто упоминают дословный перевод названия этой технологии – «синий зуб». Вот только непонятно, как это все связано с беспроводной передачей данных. На самом деле свое название она получила в честь короля викингов Харальда I Синезубого (Harald Blåtand). Он сумел объединить Данию и Норвегию. Именно в этом регионе в итоге и была разработана столь популярная ныне технология. Знаменитый воин обожал чернику, из-за чего его зубы стали сине-черными. Так и появилось у короля прозвище «Синезубый» или же Bluetooth.

Харальд Синезубый

Харальд Синезубый. Фреска из собора Роскилле (XVI век)

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Хулиган

Хулиган

Ирландцы славятся своим бурным нравом, но одна семья сумела выделиться даже в этом сомнительном критерии. Главным зачинщиком в ней был Патрик Хулиган. Его постоянно упоминали в многочисленных полицейских сводках и газетных статьях. Так слово Хулиган стало нарицательным. Ирландская семья вошла в историю, но отнюдь не самым лучшим образом.

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Шарлатан

Некогда жил во Франции врач Шарль Латан. Он проводил своим пациентам бессмысленные операции, но обещая при этом избавление от недуга. Получив оплату за свои услуги, доктор сбегал. Считается, что именно так и появилось слово «шарлатан», означающее обычного мошенника.

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Лодырь

Лейб-медиком Александра I был немецкий доктор Юстус Христиан Лодер (в России называли Христиан Иванович Лодер). Он немало сделал для медицинского просвещения в России, а в 1828 году открыл на Остоженке заведение искусственных минеральных вод. Пациентам рекомендовали прогуливаться по улице на протяжении трех часов. Но простолюдинам это казалось пустой барской забавой, появилось народное выражение «ходить лодырем». А самих людей, праздношатающихся и ничем не занимающихся, со временем стали называть лодырями, в честь владельца заведения.

Юстус Христиан Лодер

Юстус Христиан Лодер

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Галиматья

Почему-то французский доктор Галли Матье уверовал в целительную силу смеха. Врач считал, что шутки и анекдоты способны оздоровить его пациентов. Но весь этот информационный поток прозвали галиматьей.

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