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Jul 25, 2022
This week’s theme
Words derived after names

This week’s words
John Henry
mollycoddle
Jones
patsy
jasper

John Henry
Andy Warhol’s John Henry on a Campbell’s Soup can, c. 1970
Photo: Wright

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

I once came across a fellow named Modern Man. Real story. That was his official name. That’s how he was listed on his driver’s license and passport. It was probably a bit of a challenge to have customer support or 911 not hang up.

You have to admire the boldness and courage it takes to officially rename oneself like this. The rest of us carry on with whatever name our parents slapped on us when we were born. Here’s to rebels and nonconformists!

This week we’ll see five words that have origins in popular names. We’ll cover first names, diminutive names, last names, and full names.

Is there a story behind your name? Do you have an unusual name? Share on our website or email us at words@wordsmith.org. As always, include your location (city, state).

Here are some tidbits about my name.

John Henry

PRONUNCIATION:
(jon HEN-ree)

MEANING:
noun: A person’s signature.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the name John Henry, from confusion with John Hancock. Hancock’s signature was the most prominent on the United States Declaration of Independence and his name became a synonym for a signature. Earliest documented use: 1914.

USAGE:
“The clerk insisted: ‘You have to sign this or you can’t use it here.’
So, Steve scribbled his John Henry on the card.”
D.F. Oliveria; Stereotype at the Plate; Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington); Mar 18, 2006.

See more usage examples of John Henry in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (25 Jul 1902-1983)

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