Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Fame

Some people are just so famous their name is used as a noun. Or even a verb. So while the origin of some words is thousands of years old, from some dusty little Latin or Greek book of signs, some words came to be after a person did something so amazing that there just wasn't a word to describe what he'd done. Hello new word! Right now, I'm trying to do something like that so my name can be written inside Oxford's Dictionary. Except since I'm just the average, normal person, I've yet to accomplish something legendary. I bring you a couple of people who were immpressive enough to have words named after them.
  1. Sandwich.  Obviously, the guy behind this loved to eat. He was also quite smart about it. He was an avid gambler, this Earl of Sandwich, and so instead of getting up to eat, he would have his food brought to him - usually a cold piece of meat or something similar - between two pieces of bread, so as to not get grease on is cards. So all he did was eat and gamble. I hate this guy already.
  2. Silhouette. Basically, a stuck up French woman, Etienne de Silhouette, was the minister of money and stuff, and raised the taxes for other stuck up French women. Mutual hate between the two stuck-up parties led to the word "silhouette" meaning anything cheap - a knockoff. Stuck-up, snotty women and their knockoffs. The stuck up women paying the taxes no longer had enough money to take photographs (this was before the camera, right about the time camera were being discovered), and so they had their portrait cut out on a piece of paper. A knockoff for the snotty French women. Somehow, the word silhouette stuck to the cut-outs.
  3. Leotard. Back to the French again. Jules Leotard was an acrobat. He wore a leotard. End of story. 
  4. All the other words have stupid or boring stories behind them. Some guy discovered something revolutionary, blah, blah, blah.  
  5. Gerrymander. Not the most common word, but the man behind this one did something so horrible that his name was used as a verb. Funny story. To gerrymander means to divide a region or state with the intention of messing up the votes, to give a political party the advantage. Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts divided the voting districts unlawfully (but since he was governer, it wasn't really unlawful), and one of them resembled a salamander. Gerry + Salamander = gerrymander. 

Must have taken them quite a bit of imagination and a really good artists to make a salamander out of that.

*This idea was from They have some really cool ideas over there.