[ ep-uh-nim ]
/ ˈɛp ə nɪm /
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a person, real or imaginary, from whom a place or thing takes or is said to take its name: Brut, the supposed grandson of Aeneas, is the eponym of the Britons.
a word based on or derived from a person's name.
any ancient official whose name was used to designate his year of office.
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Origin of eponym

First recorded in 1840–50; back formation from eponymous


ep·o·nym·ic [ep-uh-nim-ik], /ˌɛp əˈnɪm ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does eponym mean?

An eponym is a word based on the name of a real or imaginary person.

The names of many places are eponyms. For example, the U.S. state of Pennsylvania is named after the father of the state’s founder, William Penn.

In medicine, the names of many diseases, procedures, and other things are eponyms. They are often based on the person who first described them or researched them. Examples of medical eponyms include Alzheimer’s disease (named for German neurologist Alois Alzheimer) and the Heimlich maneuver (named for U.S. physician H. J. Heimlich).

Some eponyms are adjectives. Some are based on real people, such as Shakespearean, Freudian, and Kafkaesque, while others are based on imaginary characters, such as Faustian and quixotic.

The word eponym can also refer to the person whom something is named after. Walt Disney is the eponym for The Walt Disney Company.

The adjective eponymous is used to describe someone who has given their name to something or has had something named after them, as in I met the eponymous owner of Sally’s Restaurant at the farmer’s market yesterday. 

Eponymous can also be used to describe things (restaurants, books, movies, etc.) that are named after a person.

It is also often used to describe works of art that are named after their creator or lead fictional character, as in In Robinson Crusoe, the eponymous lead character lives alone on a deserted island for 28 years. 

Example: The word Morrisonian is an eponym based on the name of author Toni Morrison.

Where does eponym come from?

The first records of the word eponym come from the 1840s. It’s a back formation of the adjective eponymous, meaning that eponymous came first and was altered to make the noun eponym. It comes from the Greek word epṓnymos, which means “giving name.” Ep- means “over” or “after,” the Greek -onym means “name.” The same ending is used in words like pseudonym and anonym.

Eponym is most commonly used to refer to a word that’s based on a name. Many times, it’s obvious that a word is an eponym, especially when it’s an adjective like Shakespearean. However, there are many words that many people don’t realize are based on names, such as boycott and shrapnel.

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What are some other forms related to eponym?

What are some synonyms for eponym?

What are some words that share a root or word element with eponym

What are some words that often get used in discussing eponym?

How is eponym used in real life?

Eponym can be used in all kinds of contexts. Eponyms are often words based on well-known people who were pioneers in their field.


Try using eponym!

Is eponym used correctly in the following sentence?

Enzo Ferrari was the eponym for the luxury car company that bears his name.

How to use eponym in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for eponym

/ (ˈɛpəˌnɪm) /

a name, esp a place name, derived from the name of a real or mythical person, as for example Constantinople from Constantine I
the name of the person from which such a name is derivedin the Middle Ages, "Brutus" was thought to be the eponym of "Britain"

Derived forms of eponym

eponymic, adjective

Word Origin for eponym

C19: from Greek epōnumos giving a significant name
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for eponym

[ ĕpə-nĭm′ ]

A name of a drug, structure, or disease based on or derived from the name of a person.

Other words from eponym

ep′o•nymic adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.