Word: eponymous

Pronunciation: ə-PAH-nə-məs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition:

  1. (of a person) giving their name to something
  2. (of a thing) named after a particular person

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s a word that every writer should know, and most prolific ones probably do. I come across the word “eponymous” almost exclusively when reading Wikipedia articles, as I often read about stories titled after a person’s name. Interestingly, whether its definition is active or passive depends on if it’s used to describe a person or a thing, so be sure to pay close attention to that detail!

An “eponymous” person is someone whose name has been given to something. An “eponymous” thing, in contrast, is something named after a specific person. This word is the adjective form of “eponym”, meaning “a person after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named or thought to be named”. This noun comes from the Greek adjective epōnumos “given as a name”, which is comprised of the preposition epi “upon” and the noun onuma “name”.

“Eponymous” is what I consider to be one of those “specialist” words: limited to a particular use, but highly useful when the need for it arises. Therefore, as I said, it’s a word that’s especially important for writers; if not to use directly, then at least to understand. If you make a habit of naming the things in your stories after people, then “eponymous” is definitely the word for you! Have fun getting creative with your names!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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