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Apr 6, 2020
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Mae West
Adonic
vandal
nimrodize
Chadband

Mae West
Mae West in the film Night After Night

Mae West
Astronaut Richard A. Mastracchio depends on his Mae West during an emergency bailout exercise
Photo: NASA

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”

As it happens, Ben did both. He wrote things worth reading (we still quote him) and he did things worth writing (Wikipedia summarizes him as a writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat).

But there’s a third and a fourth way too. If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, coin a word or have a word coined after you. He has the word benjamin (a $100 bill) coined after him. Also Franklin’s rod (lightning-conductor) and Franklin stove (a cast-iron stove).

A word coined after a person is known as an eponym, from Greek ep- (after) + -onym (name). Become an eponym and you live forever in the language. In this week’s A.Word.A.Day we feature words coined after people, from history, fiction, mythology, and more.

Mae West

PRONUNCIATION:
(may WEST)

MEANING:
noun: An inflatable life jacket.

ETYMOLOGY:
After actress, singer, and playwright Mae West (1893-1980), from the apparent resemblance of an inflated vest to her large bust. Earliest documented use: 1940.

USAGE:
“Although she never did learn to swim, she donned her Mae West and loved to fish.”
Laura Rouse; The Poughkeepsie Journal (New York); Jul 15, 2014.

See more usage examples of Mae West in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Conscience is a dog that does not stop us from passing but that we cannot prevent from barking. -Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (6 Apr 1741-1794)

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