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Sep 26, 2011
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
boswell
quisling
schlemiel
augean
celadon

James Boswell with Samuel Johnson of
James Boswell with Samuel Johnson
(detail from "A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynolds's")
Art: D. George Thompson after James William Edmund Doyle

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Eponyms are little capsules of history. They capture a bundle of stories in just a word or two. These are terms derived from the names of people, from ep- (upon) + -onym (name). They summarize their characters and the qualities that made them stand out.

In the five eponyms we explore this week, we'll meet people, real and fictional, from a diverse world that includes a biographer, an army major, a Biblical figure, a mythological king, and a loving shepherd.

Boswell

PRONUNCIATION:
(BOZ-wel)

MEANING:
noun: A biographer, especially one who records in detail the life of another and who obtains information through close observation of the subject.

ETYMOLOGY:
After James Boswell (1740-1795), Scottish lawyer, diarist, and author, who was a companion and biographer of the lexicographer Samuel Johnson. He wrote the biography "Life of Samuel Johnson". Earliest documented use: 1858.

USAGE:
"There has been a cooling of relations between Mr. Buffett and Ms. Schroeder, his Boswell, who spent five years researching and writing his biography."
Leslie Wayne; Buffett Cancels Event With Biographer; The New York Times; Feb 3, 2009.

"Thierry Guetta is both their Boswell and their stalker, filming, filming, filming, always."
Michael Phillips; Movie Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop; Chicago Tribune; Apr 29, 2010.

See more usage examples of Boswell in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

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