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• T •
Word Meaning Eponym
talbot
talbotype
The process of photographing on sensitized paper. Named for the owner of the patent, William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), British scientist, registered in 1841.
tam-o'-shanter A soft woollen bonnet with flat circular crown about twice the diameter of the head, originally worn by Scottish ploughmen but by the end of the 19th century, by young ladies, as well. The hero of the poem Tam o' Shanter (1791), by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796).
tantalize
tantalise
To allure with something that is withdrawn at the last moment, to torment in this way. Tantalus, mythical king of Phrygia who revealed secrets of the gods and was condemned to stand up to his chin in water, which dropped when he stooped to drink, with fruit hanging above him that rose when he reached to pick it.
tarmac A heavy-duty asphalt used for airport runways. Short for tar+macadam, the name of John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), the Scottish engineer who first proposed paving roads with crushed stone.
tartuffe A hypocrite who feigns religious piety. Tartuffe, the protagonist in a play of the same name by Moliére.
Tasmania An island off the southeastern coast of Australia, famous for its aboriginal Tasmania devil. Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603-59), Dutch navigator, who first explored the island, naming it Van Dieman's Land in 1642; it was remaned in his honor in 1853.
tattersall A pattern popular in men's shirts made up of squares usually on a yellowish background. Richard Tattersall (1724-95), English horse auctioneer who founded the first bloodstock equine auction house in the world.
tawdry Gaudy, tasteless. From tawdry lace, a corruption of Saint Audrey's lace which could only be purchased as Saint Audrey's Fair, in Ely, England. The fair was named after Saint Audrey (Saint Etheldreda), queen of Northumbria, who died in 679.
teddy Short for teddy bear, a soft, stuffed toy in the shape of a bear. Named for Teddy, the nickname of President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), once depicted in a famous cartoon sparing the life of a bear cub.
tesla A measure of a unit of magnetic flux density equal to one weber per square meter. Nikola Tesla (1857-1943), Croatian-born electrical inventor responsible for developing AC (alternating current) used in homes and buildings throughout the world today.
tetrazzini Made with noodles in a cream sauce of mushrooms, almonds, and cheese. Luisa Tetrazzini (1874-1940), Italian opera singer who loved the stuff.
theremin An electronic musical instrument played by moving the hands about its two antennas. Lev Teremin (1896-1993), the Russian engineer who invented it.
thespian Related to actors or acting. Thespis, 6th century Greek poet credited as the originator of Greek tragedy.
Thursday The fifth day of the week, between Wednesday and Friday. Thor, Norse god of thunder.
timothy A European perennial grain (Phleum pratense) widely grown for hay in the United States. Possibly named for Timothy Hanson, the American farmer who brought the grain from Europe and introduced it in the US.
titan A person outstanding in his or her field of endeavor. The Titans, 12 primeval gigantic gods and goddesses in Greek mythology.
titanic Huge, gigantic. The Titans, 12 primeval gigantic gods and goddesses in Greek mythology.
titchy (UK children's slang) Tiny, teeny, wee. Harry Relph (1867-1928), a small British actor whose stage name was "Little Titch".
titian Brownish orange. Titian (circa 1487-1576), an Italian painter known for his use of this color in his paintings.
tommy gun An .45 calibre submachine gun. A corruption of the Thompson submachine gun, named after John Taliaferro Thompson (1860-1940), the chief engineer of the Remington Arms Company who invented the weapon.
tontine A retirement annuity in which the payout to individual members increases with the death of each member, the last member receiving the remaining principal. Lorenzo Tonti (1620-95), the Neopolitan banker who developed the idea.
Tony An award given to members of the US theater. A shortening of "The Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre", named for the American actress Antoinette Perry (1888-1946) by the American Theatre Wing, an organization promoting theater.
torr A unit of pressure equal to 133.3 pascals. Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647), Italian physicist and mathematician.
trilby A felt hat with two creases in the front of the crown. Trilby, novel by the British writer George du Maurier (1834-96) because the character wore such a hat in the London production based on the novel.
trojan Short for Trojan horse A computer virus hidden in an otherwise useful application. The city of Troy, according to Homer's Odyssy and in Virgils' Aeneid, was defeated when its attackers gave the city a large wooden horse as an ostensible peace offering. At night, though, Greek warriors hidden in the horse came out and opened the gates of the city.
troland A unit of visual stimulation to the retina. Leonard T. Troland (1889-1932), American, a Harvard biochemist who put forward one of the earliest theories describing a chemical origin for life on Earth and who had two retinas himself.
trudgen Now called the front crawl: A swimming stroke with a double overarm movement and a scissors kick. John Arthur Trudgen (1860-1940), the British swimmer who copied it from South American Indians.
tsar The former king of Russia. An Old Slavic variation of Caesar. (See also czar and kaiser.)
Tuesday The third day of the week, between Monday and Wednesday. Tyr, the Anglo-Saxon god of war and the sky.
typhon A steam-operated horn. Typhon, a monster with 100 heads and one of the whirlwinds in Greek mythology.
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• U •
Word Meaning Eponym
uzi A compact Israeli 9mm submachine gun, the weapon of choice of drug smugglers. After Uziel "Uzi" Gal, born Gotthard Glass (1923-2003) in Germany, an Israeli army officer and weapons designer.
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