Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Famous and Forgotten

There are many ways to have your name remembered generations after your death.  They include winning or losing a battle, founding a city, and leading your country.  The ideal would be, of course, to have those future generations remember exactly what your achievements were, but you cannot always have everything.

The English language does have words which are named after actual people.  Some of these words are so common that the person himself (no women in this list, but I am willing and happy to add one if you know of any woman words) has been mostly or completely forgotten.  Take Mr. Leotard, whose practical garment is worn by millions of dancers around the world.  Sadly, nobody even gives even a thought.  The following list shows eleven terms in English of not-so-famous people:

1.  Mesmerize
Mr. Mezmere
French personality who "hypnotized" his hosts
2.  Leotards
Mr. Leotard
Circus performer who needed garment that did not hinder him
3.  Quisling
Mr. Quisling
Norwegian leader who cooperated with the Nazis
4.  Crap
Sir Thomas Crapper
Inventor of flush toilet
5.  Real McCoy
Mr. McCoy
Prohibition era smuggler of (real) rum from Jamaica
6.  John Hancock
John Hancock
Signer of declaration of independence with a large signature
7.  Sandwich
Lunch food
Earl of Sandwich
Apparently, a noble who had trouble keeping staff
8.  Decibel
Sound measure
Alexander Graham Bell
Pioneer in the study of sound
9.  Pasteurize
Milk treatment
Louis Pasteur
Discovered source of milk contamination and how to prevent it
10. Cup of Joe
Admiral Joe
Banned alcohol for British sailors
11. Grog
Rum drink
Admiral Grog
Added water to the rum rations to British sailors

To paraphrase Shakespeare, is it better to have been remembered and then forgotten or not to have been remembered at all? 

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