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A.Word.A.Day--uriah heep

Pronunciation RealAudio

Uriah Heep (ur-AYAH heep) noun

A hypocritically humble person.

[After Uriah Heep, a character in Charles Dickens's David Copperfield.]

"This affair shows the accounting profession all too often to be in bed with the oldest profession. Accounting standards have been frequently prostituted by the new Uriah Heeps: these are executives in ever-merging firms afraid to challenge their clients' phony numbers and secret self-dealing because they might lose fees in the lucrative consulting business they run on the side."
William Safire; Where's Scandal in Enron?; The New York Times; Jan 14, 2002.

There are thousands and thousands of them. In medicine, botany, chemistry, athletics, and other walks (and runs) of life. We use them all the time without even realizing it. They come with a whole story about themselves. They are words derived from people, real and fictional, from history and from mythology. They are known as eponyms and this week we'll meet five of these people and the words they gave us after their names.


A brother is a friend given by nature. -Gabriel Legouve, poet (1807-1903)

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