What is the newest durable eponym?
January 26, 2023 12:47 PM   Subscribe

My husband asked me this last night and I'm stumped. Please help me come up with more recently coined eponyms that have successfully caught on! We're not counting all eponyms--no diseases named after doctors or policies named after politicians, for example. More rules below the fold.

We're looking for eponyms that function like "sandwich" or "guillotine" or "leotard": things that are named after a person who created or popularized them and that have come to be generalizable nouns you can use to describe any object in that category (so Ponzi scheme counts, because you can say "that business model sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me", but Obamacare doesn't because there's just the one Affordable Care Act and nobody is calling single-payer healthcare in other countries Obamacare).

The most recent ones we've come up with are Jheri curl (1980s) and Zamboni (1950s).

Lou Gherig's Disease as a name for ALS is an edge case as it's named after a famous person who had it, not after a doctor who studied it. Edge cases welcome! Also words that aren't that recent but are surprisingly eponyms (shrapnel! who knew!), just for fun.
posted by cabbage raccoon to Writing & Language (75 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Would Gurney Flap qualify?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:53 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Would you take 'Sprewells' as a term for spinning rims?

That one dates to 2001.
posted by box at 12:53 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

'The Rachel' is significant enough to have a Wikipedia entry.
posted by box at 12:57 PM on January 26 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Streisand Effect.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:57 PM on January 26 [33 favorites]

posted by Dip Flash at 1:02 PM on January 26 [31 favorites]

Leatherman is a brand name, named for the inventor, Tim Leatherman in 1983. "Leatherman" has come to be a somewhat generic term for a multitool.

There's probably a lot of industry specific ones. For example, a "Hobbs" in aviation is the meter that tells you how long the airplane has been used for (how long the prop has been spinning, for example), which is named for its inventor, John Weston Hobbs. That one dates to WWII.

There's some names out there like Scaramucci and Santorum (do not google!) that have sort of humorously become words over the last few years but I don't know if that counts.

Edit: beaten to the punch by two minutes!
posted by bondcliff at 1:04 PM on January 26 [9 favorites]

I was going to say Jake Brakes (1957) but they are named after the company, not the inventor so not sure if they count.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:10 PM on January 26

Stan is an edge case.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:14 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]

Edge case (similar to The Rachel), the Thagomizer is named after Thag Simmons, a fictional character from the Far Side, but has gone from comic joke to official scientific term.

Rubik's Cube?
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:15 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]

Google? Not a person obviously but a proper noun used as a generic term for 'searching' - in this thread already!
posted by happyfrog at 1:17 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]

"Britney mic", for a headworn radio microphone.
posted by offog at 1:26 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Not new, but fun: the French drain is named after a man named Henry Flagg French.
posted by aabbbiee at 1:28 PM on January 26 [14 favorites]

Also on the aviation tip is the Norden bombsight and Jeppeson charts (although in the case of Jeppeson charts, I think they basically had an early monopoly on aeronautical charts). Though neither of these are especially new.
posted by adamrice at 1:28 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

The Bechdel test
posted by aabbbiee at 1:31 PM on January 26 [44 favorites]

Daisy Dukes might be too specific, but they are a term for very short denim cut-offs.

Also specific, in guitar playing, the Hendrix Chord is a commonly used name for the 7#9 chord.
posted by bondcliff at 1:32 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Similar vintage to Zamboni, but Nehru jacket seems like it would qualify.
posted by potrzebie at 1:37 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]

This is very niche, but in whitewater kayaking and canoeing, there's a kind of advanced paddle stroke called a "Duffek." I knew it by this name before I knew it was named after a person, Miloslav Duffek. Some people spell it dufek or duffek, with a lowercase first letter. Here's a little video about the stroke and how Duffek popularized it. It's a really powerful, fun stroke, but it would be super awkward to do as a beginner, and it's much more efficient than other stroke options for certain moves. It's a great stroke for paddling even non-competitively, and I don't know of other strokes that are named after a person.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:37 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

There’s “getting zucced”.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:38 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]

Wordle sort of, as it was named by its developer, Josh Wardle.
posted by SPrintF at 1:39 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

The Tim Tebow Cinematic Universe ("Tebowing"/the Tebow Rule/the Tim Tebow bills/laws/rules, re: homeschooled kids and sports)
Scaramucci (time)
Sabermetrics (from SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:41 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Karen. That has to be pretty recent, no? I wonder if there is a real original Karen or merely the Platonic ideal of someone called Karen, though.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 1:45 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

I feel like Dyson might be on the way to refer to any vacuum that actually does the job (I wasn't sure which of "vacuum that sucks" or "vacuum that doesn't suck" would make more sense so went with "does the job" instead) but I don't think it's there yet.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:47 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Would this count? Fridge - contraction of Frigidaire, a refrigerator manufacturer.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:48 PM on January 26

Response by poster: These are great, keep 'em coming!

(to clarify, we're not interested in words that come from company names e.g. fridge, Dyson, only ones that come from people names e.g. Streisand effect, Nehru jacket)
posted by cabbage raccoon at 2:07 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

The Apgar score was invented by Dr. Apgar to assess the condition of babies at birth. She assigned the letters: activity (tone), pulse, grimace, appearance, and respiration.
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:10 PM on January 26 [16 favorites]

The Rachel haircut
posted by Mchelly at 2:24 PM on January 26

The company Dyson is named after its founder James Dyson, the inventor of the vacuum that Dyson sells. Just like Zambonis are made by the Zamboni Company founded by Frank Zamboni.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:27 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

(Just saw that someone beat me to the Rachel, sorry about that. Before that there were the Dorothy Hamill and the Veronica Lake haircuts as well...)
posted by Mchelly at 2:30 PM on January 26

Bit niche but:
Hopkins Ratio n. the amount by which office space is diminished for female faculty members. Named for Nancy Hopkins who documented the discrepancy in MIT.
Even nicher:
Chisholm n. a billion3 = 1027 = the number of Prochlorococcus, the world’s most abundant organism, in the ocean. Named for Penny Chisholm their discoverer. Sometimes called a Chisllion to match billion, trillion . . .
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:33 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]

Maybe the Serena Slam (winning four Grand Slam tournaments in a row but not in the same season/calendar year), but I guess the durability will depend on whether the same career feat is celebrated as much when another athlete does it.

If you are willing to mine sports terms most of the ice skating jumps are named after people, and even the Ollie in skateboarding is eponymous. I don't know enough about snowboarding to know the terms but I wouldn't be surprised to know tricks are still being named after the people who come up with them.
posted by fedward at 2:35 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


"It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States minister to Mexico, who is credited with introducing the plant to the US in the 1820s."
posted by alicat at 2:37 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

most of the ice skating jumps are named after people

this is true of gymnastics moves.
posted by mmascolino at 2:38 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I love the magnificent justice of Judge Robert BORK's etymological legacy. His very name now means "broken, derailed, irretrievably messed up." So sweet to see the mighty fall.
posted by Corvid at 2:49 PM on January 26 [21 favorites]

Similar niche sport term, but a first name one - a Gaston in climbing.
posted by true at 2:50 PM on January 26

The Fosbury Flop is the modern (I guess still) way of doing the jump for the athletic event the High Jump.
posted by The_Vegetables at 3:00 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Hammer pants come to mind.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:04 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]

apgar, that form of mic used to be called the Madonna mic :-)
posted by scolbath at 3:05 PM on January 26

Best answer: Maybe this fits your ALS exception: The underriding bar at the rear of trucks/semi trailers is called a Mansfield bar after Jayne Mansfield who was killed by a collision with a trailer with a long unprotected trailer overhang.
posted by Mitheral at 3:05 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Several skateboarding tricks and specific tricks in video game speedrunning are named after the person who first found them, although convention is that the person who discovers it gets to name it and often they have a better name in mind.
posted by Merus at 3:08 PM on January 26

Point of clarification, Apgar score is named for her, but the criteria are a backtronym. See wikipedia
posted by DebetEsse at 3:21 PM on January 26

Best answer: It’s not particularly new, but German Chocolate Cake was named for Samuel German.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 3:24 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

Also not new, but fuchsias are named after the botanist Leonhardt Fuchs.
posted by corey flood at 3:30 PM on January 26

Depending on which derivation you believe, 'cap' and 'no cap' for 'gotta be kidding' and 'no kidding' are from Twitch.tv's 'kappa' and 'no kappa' which are references to an emote originally referencing a person (who used the reference to the Japanese water spirit as his handle).

And perhaps Kappa itself, without the extra layer.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:33 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

The Keyes Constant dates to 2004-5 or so.
posted by box at 3:35 PM on January 26

posted by amtho at 3:55 PM on January 26

Travis picking on guitar is alternating bass notes with your thumb while using other fingers to play treble notes.

posted by mikesch at 4:12 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Tommy John elbow surgery.
posted by carmicha at 4:13 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

A niche climbing term: there is a climbing move called a "Gaston" named after Gaston Rébuffat. Imagine pulling open a set of closing elevator doors, that's the gist of it.
posted by invokeuse at 4:38 PM on January 26

Best answer: That old, and ever present, Murphy's Law.
posted by charlesminus at 4:50 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]

Not recent but certainly durable: pasteurization.
posted by ojocaliente at 5:00 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Gray whales are only coincidentally that color. They're named after a guy.
posted by tangerine at 5:01 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mandela Effect, 2009.
posted by box at 5:52 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure I truly understand the distinctions here between what counts and what doesn't, but in geology the boundary between the crust (solid) and the mantle (plastic) is called the Moho...which is named after a guy, Andrjia Mohorovicic.

John McPhee goes on about Mohos in Annals of the Former World quite a lot.
posted by migrantology at 6:14 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Amber alert, AMBER is a backronym standing for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. It was created in reference to Amber Rene Hagerman, a girl who was abducted and later found murdered in 1996.
posted by theora55 at 6:26 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

The Halligan, although 1948 isn’t super recent.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:41 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Although the style itself was a rather brief craze circa 2011-2012, if you went out today rocking long hair with an buzz cut on one side you'd still be described as having Skrillex hair. There was even a song about it.
posted by automatronic at 7:37 PM on January 26

Best answer: To MacGyver something. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “after Angus MacGyver, protagonist of the U.S. television series MacGyver (1985-92), known for regularly improvising solutions to practical problems with limited tools and materials”.
posted by LiverOdor at 8:39 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]

mmascolino, my brain went "something something Simone Biles," and it turns out she's got at least four moves named for her
posted by dialMforMara at 8:58 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this counts, but there's Linux, which is a portmanteau of Linus (Torvalds) and UNIX.

Amusingly, iOS does not recognize Torvalds as a name.

For historical ones, Bloomers come from Amelia Bloomer. Depending who you ask, her surname derives either from flowers or iron working, which seems fitting.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:10 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Shepardize, Overton window, the real McCoy
hoover, braille, sideburns, nicotine, argyle, maverick, mausoleum, silhouette, mesmerize, namby-pamby
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:38 PM on January 26

Mountaineers and rock climbers use a technique for ascending ropes called ‘prusiking’ (the verb: to prusik), and they do so using a prusik, a knotted cord which tightens around the ropes when it’s loaded, but which slides easily up the rope when unweighted. The cord, the knot, the activity - and lots of variations on them, so alternative ways of tying the knot, and different ways of ascending ropes - all get referred to with a name that is often written ‘prussic’, or ‘prussick’, ‘prusicking’. It’s named after Karl Prusik, an Austrian alpinist, but it’s become a general term.
posted by Joeruckus at 1:39 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

Getting Madoffed.
posted by anderjen at 4:26 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

As a category, the names of Supreme Court decisions often become names for things. "Terry stop" is an example. "Chevron Deference" is another.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:13 AM on January 27

The Edgar haircut is named after major league baseball player Edgar Martinez. Further explanation here.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:26 AM on January 27

After SemiSalt's suggestion, "Miranda rights"
posted by JonJacky at 6:22 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]

How about a Rube Goldberg Machine?, named after the cartoonist, Rube Goldberg? Now the term can be used to mean any overly complicated set-up/situation.
posted by silverstatue at 6:32 AM on January 27

Best answer: It's less common now, I think, but I've seen "uzi" used as a generic term for a submachine gun or machine pistol, not necessarily the specific model designed by Uziel "Uzi" Gal.
posted by mhum at 8:40 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]

I learned a new one today. I'm not 100% sure it fits with your question since the name itself is used as an adjective, but the Gish gallop is a debating technique that consists of spouting a lot of rapid-fire statements without giving your opponent time to refute them. It's named after the debating style of creationist Duane Gish. It was coined in 1994.
posted by FencingGal at 10:00 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, in the same vein as uzi, there's the eponymous AK-47 aka Kalashnikov rifle, though I'm less certain if, when it's used more generically, whether it encompasses all assault rifles (e.g.: including AR-15s) or if it's really only meant to apply to the zillions of specific AK-47 variants.
posted by mhum at 10:33 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing the categories of things normally named this way are not what's desired (e.g. case law, guns, gymnastics/trick moves, medical devices and procedures, patents, scientific principles and phenomena).

Rather, epi-eponyms.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:46 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

posted by eponym at 8:21 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]

Kirby crackle, the dot-pattern technique for rendering powerful energy designed by the late Jack Kirby and still used by comics artists today.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 8:41 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Nachos (1941) are named after its inventor Ignacio Anaya ("Nacho" is a common nickname for "Ignacio").

Caesar salad (1924) is named after Caesar Cardini who might have invented the salad or at least owned and ran the restaurant where it was invented.

I think there are enough variations of these dishes (at least for nachos) for them to count as classes of dishes rather than specific dishes.
posted by mhum at 12:27 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

A potential edge case: "martini". I think we can agree that the term has been expanded to include a wide enough assortment of variations that it can be used to denote a class of cocktail (in addition to its classic recipe).

Now, what is a martini named after? While there's no definitive origin, there's a case to be made that it's named for the Martini brand of vermouth. And what's that named after? Obviously, the company that produces it, Martini & Rossi, which is of course named (in part) after Alessandro Martini.
posted by mhum at 5:15 PM on January 28

Tabata, from my workout today. In widespread use, generalized, and named after someone who is still alive.
posted by true at 3:40 PM on February 12

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