Words derived from the names of people


First published in June 2009

Word Definition
abelia any of several hardy evergreen shrubs of the honeysuckle family. [Clarke Abel, 1780-1826, British botanist]
abigaila a lady’s maid. [Abigail, a character in Beaumont & Fletcher's 'The Scornful Lady']
akelathe adult leader of a group, or pack, of Cub Scouts. [Akela, a character in Kipling's 'The Jungle Book']
banksiaan evergreen, flowering shrub, native to Australia. [Sir Joseph Banks, English naturalist]
bogartto hog a thing; take more than one's share. [Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), American film actor]
canfielda card game, a kind of patience. [RA Canfield (1855-1914), US gambler]
crispina poetic name for a shoemaker. [Crispin of Soissons, the patron saint of shoemakers, martyred 25 October 287]
daedalcunningly made; ingenious. [Daedalus, Athenian inventor in Gk myth]
faginone who instructs others in crime. [Fagin, character in Charles Dickens' 'Oliver Twist']
favonianmild; benign. [Favonius, the west wind personified in myth]
fresnela unit of optical frequency. [AJ Fresnel (1788–1827), French physicist]
gahnitea zinc spinel. [JG Gahn (1745–1818), Swedish chemist]
gibusa collapsible top hat. [From the French maker's name]
grinchsomeone who ruins others' enjoyment. [From the Grinch, a character in 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (1957) by Dr. Seuss, pseudonym of Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991)]
guyota flat-topped underwater mountain. [AH Guyot (1807–84), Swiss-born American geologist]
hanumana long-tailed sacred monkey of India. [Hanuman, an Indian monkey-god]
hauynea blue mineral, in composition like nosean, with calcium. [René J Haüy (1743–1822), French mineralogist]
hobdayto cure a breathing impediment (in a horse) by surgical operation. [Sir Frederick Hobday (1869–1939), British veterinary surgeon]
hoylea rule book. [Edmond Hoyle (1672?-1769), British writer on games]
hotspura hot-headed, impetuous man. [Hotspur, in Shakespeare's Henry V]
jehuone who drives furiously. [Jehu, king of Israel, known for his wild chariot driving]
jemimaan elastic-sided boot. [From the female name Jemima].
judasa one-way peep-hole in a door. [Judas Iscariot, biblical traitor]
kelvinthe SI unit of temperature. [William Thompson, first Baron Kelvin, British physicist (1824–1907)]
kira blackcurrant drink. [Canon Felix Kir (1876-1968), mayor of Dijon, who is said to have invented the drink]
kunzitea lilac-coloured variety of spodumene, used as a gemstone. [GF Kunz (1856–1932), US gemologist]
laliqueornamental glassware, esp with bas-relief decoration of figures, flowers, etc. [René Lalique (died 1945), French designer of jewellery and glassware]
leislera small black bat. [19c zoologist TP Leisler]
lindanea powerful insecticide. [T. van der Linden, 20th century Dutch chemist]
lutza kind of jump in figure skating. [Alois Lutz, Austrian figure skater (1898–1918)]