MY YEAR OF NEW WORDS, Part 8 – EPONYMS

July is the month added by Julius Caesar (and August, naturally, by Augustus Caesar), which is why September, October, November and December and not the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth month, as they should be based on their Indo-European roots. July is an eponym, a word made form a name, and a number of the year’s non-words are eponymous: Googelian (the impending total control of data by a supposedly benevolent infoverlord), begoogled (lost for long stretches of time sifting through marginally relevant search results), McNap (to catch five-minutes of sleep in a fast-food restaurant parking lot while on a long drive), bainstaking (extracting short-term profit through layoffs, factory closings, and planned bankruptcies), febreesia (a sweet scent that you first think is fresh flowers, then realize is air freshener), birch (to walk by someone and pretend you don’t see him/her) and splaterno, (an institutional stain that won’t be easily removed), Augdust (superheated, dry summer weather carrying dirt and debris on hot winds), punxatognostication, of course, and miksyezpit (to play a prank on someone). Miksyezpit is based on the comic book villain Mr. Mxyzptlk, whose name is pronounced mĭks•yĕz′•pĭt•lĭk.

Most of my non-word eponyms use the word as part of a blend, but of course, there are particular suffixes that specialize in making eponyms: –ian (or an or yan) as in Googelian or Orwellian or Darwinian, –ist (Marxist, Buddhist), –ite (Luddite, after Ned Ludd, or Trotskyite), –esque (Lincolnesque, Oprahesque), -(n)omics, -mentum (add a politician’s name here).

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology was released by Oxford University Press in June of 2014.
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