Eponym - Denim & Jeans

A discussion of word histories and origins.
bnjtokyo
Lexiterian
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:16 pm

Eponym - Denim & Jeans

Postby bnjtokyo » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:23 pm

According to the definition of eponym provided elsewhere on this site
https://www.alphadictionary.com/article ... index.html
an eponym is a "common noun derived from a proper noun."
I recently learned that "denim" is etymologically derived from "serge de Nimes" and came into use in American English in about 1850. However, the list of eponyms listed on the above page does not include "denim." Is this an oversight? Or is "denim" not an eponym? If it is not, why not? Is it subject to the commonization caveat that excludes words like "aspirin" and "escalator"?

And speaking of "denim," what about "jean(s)"? The list of eponyms does not include it but I have heard it derives from "Genoa," and the Online Etymology Dictionary provides the following derivation:
"twilled cotton cloth," mid-15c., Geayne, short for Gene fustian, from Middle French jean fustian "fustian (a type of twilled cotton cloth) of Genoa," the Italian city, from Old French Jannes "Genoa," from Latin Genua (see Genoa)."
https://www.etymonline.com/word/jean#etymonline_v_1685
If "jean/jeans" is not an eponym, why not?

brogine
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:41 pm

Re: Eponym - Denim & Jeans

Postby brogine » Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:17 am

Traditionally, the ‘eponym’ is the person. See OED. However, things change. But they’ll have a hard time pulling this old stick out of the mud.
Has anyone ever entertained the idea that people with a math and/or science background are more particular about precise meanings (comprise, reticent) and resistant to change through time?

bnjtokyo
Lexiterian
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:16 pm

Re: Eponym - Denim & Jeans

Postby bnjtokyo » Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:21 am

I am relying on the definition of "eponym" provided with the list of Eponyms on this site:
"An eponym as we will use the term here is an ordinary common noun derived from a proper noun, the name of a person or PLACE [emphasis added]."
https://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/eponyms/
Of the 13 words listed under "A," two, "afghan" and "argyle," are derived from places.
Of the 39 words listed under "B," four are clearly not derived from personal names. And one I am not including among the four is "braggadocio" which is explained as what might be considered to be a inverted eponym: "Braggadocchio, the personification of vainglory in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (circa1552-1599)." It suggests Spenser had a definition or bundle of traits and mannerism that he wished to use in his poem so he created a character to personify them.

brogine
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:41 pm

Re: Eponym - Denim & Jeans

Postby brogine » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:40 pm

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I do understand you, but traditionalist me . . . I do follow the OED somewhat slavishly.

As another example of my finicky nature, I shun referring to shorthand like say, NAACP, as an ‘acronym’, as opposed to ‘initialism’, although ‘acronym’ is almost always used this way.

One of the things I’ve always loved about English is its specificity. That math gene . . . .

Addendum tediosum: though far less common, it seems ‘initialism’ is quite a bit older than ‘acronym’.


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