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Word Meaning Eponym
daguerreotype An early form of photography much like tintype. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1789-1851), French painter and pioneering photographer.
dahlia A large colorful, thickly petalled flower. Named by Carl Peter Thunberg after his close personal friend, Anders Dahl (1751-1789), an obscure Swedish botanist.
decibel A measure of the difference between two acoustic levels equal to 10 times the common logarithm of the ratio between the two levels; 1/10 of a bel. Latin deci- "ten" + the surname of Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-born American scientist who invented the telephone.
degauss To make nonmagnetic; take away the magnetic properties (of), as to degauss a TV screen. Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), a German mathematician and scientist who contributed significantly to number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, magnetism, astronomy, and optics.
derby 1. A race, especially a horse race for 3-year-olds. 2. A stiff felt hat with a round crown and narrow brim. Both named after Edward Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834), founder of the English Derby.
derrick A tall, slender structure over an oil well used for hoisting pipes and lowering them into the well holes. Goodman Derick, a 17th century English hangman. The word originally referred to a gallows.
derringer A small pistol easily concealed in the sleeve or in a lady's purse. Henry Deringer (1786-1868), the American gunsmith who invented it.
diesel A type of motor engine that runs on heating oil rather than gasoline or petrol. Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913), the German mechanical engineer who invented it.
dionysian Orgiastic, relating to drunken orgies; wildly emotional, irrational. Dionysus, Greek god of wine, fruitfulness and vegetation (see also bacchanalia).
doily A small place mat or decorative coverlet, usually crocheted. Mr. Doyley (first name unknown), probably a 17th century draper and dry-goods dealer on the Strand in London.
draconian Harsh, unfairly demanding. Draco, a 7th century BCE Athenian law-giver known for his harsh laws and enforcement.
dunce Nincompoop, stupid person. John Duns Scotus (circa 1265-1308), the Scottish theologian whose writings and philosophy were ridiculed by many during his lifetime.
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