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Eponymous – Meaning and Examples of Use

The word eponymous is an adjective. It refers to the person, place, or thing that something else is named for. Eponymous can also refer to a thing that is named after something else.

Humans love to give our names to things. For example, we often name things after the people who were involved in their formulation or discovery. Take the Bohr radius, for example, which was named after Niels Bohr. In addition, we name things that we founded or established after ourselves, like how the Ford Motor Company was named for its founder, Henry Ford. Throughout hundreds of years of history, it’s been common to paste a person’s name over a place or thing’s existing name. For instance, Lake Victoria had had several local names before it was established as Lake Victoria. Within this name-giving concept, eponyms play an important role. Eponymous is a frequently-used adjective when speaking about giving one’s name to something.

What Is the Definition of Eponymous?

If you’re wondering what eponymous means, you should note that it’s closely related to the meaning of eponym, which is its parent noun. So what is an eponym? It’s the person, place, or thing that something is named after. One example is the Achilles tendon, for which Achilles is the eponym. Lake Victoria’s eponym is Queen Victoria. The eponym of America is Amerigo Vespucci. 

The word eponym has roots in the Greek language. It was derived from the word epōnumoswhich is a combination of the prefix epi, which means “upon,” and the word onoma, which means “name.”

Therefore, eponymous, as the adjective derived from eponym, carries the same meaning. It simply describes someone whose name was given to something else. For example, when talking about the movie John Carter, you could say that its eponymous character travels to the planet Mars. This is just one of the ways to use the word eponymous.

Using Eponymous

The confusing thing about the words eponym and eponymous is that they can be used the other way around as well. Lake Victoria can become Queen Victoria’s eponym because the word eponym can mean a thing that is named after someone. Meanwhile, you can say that John Carter, in the eponymous movie, travels to Mars.

The word namesake, whose meaning is almost the same as eponym, has a similar issue. But in most cases, it’s pretty simple to understand who was named after what. For instance, we know that the band the Beatles wasn’t named after its self-titled album; that was the other way around. Similarly, Niels Bohr wasn’t named after the Bohr radius. But in situations where things aren’t so clear, the best way to avoid confusion is to simply use a word other than eponymous.

Eponymous in a Sentence

  • Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Pulitzer found success as she grew her eponymous line from a small side business into a well-known national brand.
  • The film centers on Thomas Middleditch as the eponymous character.
  • The new line is an offshoot of the designer’s eponymous range.
  • Adam Sandler plays the role of the eponymous lead character; he is a talent manager working in Los Angeles who falls for a client.

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By Jessica Allen

Jessica is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish.

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