Eponyms

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a real, fictional, mythical or spurious character or person. Most eponyms originate from a person's surname: boycott, for instance, from the Irish landlord Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott; dahlia, from the Swedish botanist Anders Dahl; the sousaphone, from the American bandmaster John Philip Sousa; and volt, from the Italian physicist Count Alessandro Volta. Many eponymous words come from literary, biblical or mythological sources: malapropism, from Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan's The Rivals; Dickensian, from the English writer Charles Dickens; as old as Methuselah, from the age of the Old Testament patriarch; and aphrodisiac, from the Greek goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite.

There are thousands of eponyms in everyday use in English today and study of them yields a fascinating insight into the rich heritage of the world's most popular language and its development. Here are some more examples of names that have been immortalised in such a way.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


~ A ~

Aaron's beard/rodAaron, brother of Moses
abeliaClark Abel (1780-1826), British botanist
adamsiteRoger Adams (1889-1971), American chemist
Addison's DiseaseThomas Addison (1795-1860), English physician
Albright's SyndromeFuller Albright (1900-69), American physician
aldrinKurt Alder (1902-58), American chemist
alexandrineAlexander the Great (356-323BC), king of Macedonia
alexandriteAlexander I of Russia (1777-1825)
algorithmal-Khowarizmi (c.800-850), Arab mathematician
Alport's SyndromeArthur Cecil Alport (1880-1959), South African physician
Alzheimer's DiseaseAlois Alzheimer (1864-1915), German neuropathologist and psychiatrist
AmericaAmerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), Italian explorer
AmishJakob Ammam, 17th century Swiss Mennonite bishop
ammoniaAmmon, Egyptian god
ampereAndré Marié Ampére (1775-1836), French phyicist
Anderson shelterJohn Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley (1882-1958), British politician
ångströmAnders Jonas Ångström (1814-74), Swedish physicist and astronomer
aphrodisiacAphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty
apple charlottePrincess Charlotte (1796-1817), daughter of King George IV of England
Appleton layerSir Edward Appleton ( 1892-1963), British physicist
arachnidArachne, girl in Greek mythology turned into a spider by Athena
Archimedes' screwArchimedes (c.287-c.212BC), Greek mathematician and scientist
Argyll-Robertson pupilDouglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson (1837-1909), Scottish ophthalmologist
asphaltLeopold von Asphalt (1802-80), Bavarian landowner
assassinAssassins, a secret fanatical sect of Muslims in 11th century Persia
atlasAtlas, Titan in Greek mythology
aubrietiaClaude Aubnet (1665-1742), French painter
AugustAugustus Caesar (63 BC - AD 14), Roman emperor
axelAxel Paulsen (1856-1938), Norwegian figure skater

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~ B ~

Babcock testStephen Moulton Babcock (1843-1931), American agricultural chemist
bacchanaliaBacchus, Roman name of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus
bacitracinMargaret Tracy (c.1936-), child in whose tissues it was found
BaedekerKarl Baedeker (1801-59), German printer
Baffin Bay/IslandWilliam Baffin (c.1584-1622), English navigator
Bailey bridgeSir Donald Bailey (1901-85), English engineer
BakeliteLeo Hendrik Baekeland (1863-1944), American chemist
banksiaSir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), British botanist and scientist
bantingWilliam Banting (1797-1878), English undertaker
Bartter's SyndromeFrederic Crosby Bartter (1914-83), American physician
Bartlett pearEnoch Bartlett (1779-1860), American merchant
Baskerville typeJohn Baskerville (1706-75), English printer
baudJean M. E. Baudot (1845-1903), French inventor
Baumé scaleAntoine Baumé (1728-1804), French chemist
Beau BrummelGeorge Bryan Brummel (1778-1840), English socialite
Beaufort scaleSir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857), English surveyor and navy admiral
béchamel sauceMarquis Louis de Béchamel (d.1703), steward of Louis XIV of France
becquerelAntoine-Henri Becquerel (1852-1908), French physicist
Beef StroganoffCount Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganoff (1772-1817), Russian diplomat
begoniaMichel Bégon (1638-1710), French patron saint of science
belAlexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Scottish-born American scientist
Belisha beacon1st Baron (Isaac) Leslie Hore-Belisha (1893-1957), British politician
Bell's PalsySir Charles Bell (1774-1842), Scottish anatomist, surgeon and physiologist
BenedictineSt Benedict (c.480-c.547), French monk
Beranek scaleLeo R. Beranek (b. 1914), American acoustical engineer
Bessemer processSir Henry Bessemer (1813-98), British engineer
bignoniaAbbé Jean-Paul Bignon (1662-1743), French court librarian
bigotNathaniel Bigot (1575-1660), English Puritan teacher
Binet-Simon scaleAlfred Binet (1857-1911) and Théodore Simon (1873-1961), French psychologists
biotiteJean Baptiste Biot (1774-1862), French physicist
BiroLászló Jozsef Biró (1900-85), Hungarian inventor
Black MariaMaria Lee, early 19th century American boarding-house keeper
bluetoothHarald Blatand (translated as 'Bluetooth' in English) (c. 910-987), Viking king
blimpColonel Blimp, cartoon character by Sir David Low (1891-1963), New Zealand cartoonist
blondelAndré Eugène Blondel (1863-1938), French physicist
Bloody MaryQueen Mary I of England (1516-58)
bloomersAmelia Jenkins Bloomer (1818-94), American feminist
blurbMiss Belinda Blurb, picture by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), American humorist and illustrator
Bo Diddley beatBo Diddley (born Ellas Bates; 1928), American musician
bobbySir Robert Peel (1788-1850), British statesman and founder of London police force
boffinMr Boffin, character in the novel Our Mutual Friend (1864-5), by Charles Dickens (1812-70), English novelist
Bohr magnetonNiels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962), Danish physicist
BoliviaSimón Bolívar (1783-1830), South American soldier and statesman
Boolean logicGeorge Boole (1815-64), English mathematician
bougainvillaeaLouis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French explorer
bowdleriseThomas Bowdler (1734-1825), British doctor
bowie knifeJames Bowie (1799-1836), American soldier and adventurer
boycottCharles C. Boycott (1832-1897), Irish land agent
Boyle's lawRobert Boyle (1627-91), British physicist and chemist
boysenberryRudolph Boysen (d.1950), American botanist
braggadocioBraggadocchio, character in the poem The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (c.1552-99), English poet
BrailleLouis Braille (1809-52), French teacher, writer and musician
Bramley appleMatthew Bramley, 19th century English butcher
brewsterSir David Brewster (1781-1868), Scottish physicist
Brix scaleAdolf F. W. Brix (d. 1870), Austrian scientist
Broca's AphasiaPierre Paul Broca (1824-80), French pathologist, neurosurgeon and anthropologist
bromeliadOlaf Bromelius (1639-1705), Swedish botanist
broughamLord Henry Peter Brougham (1778-1868), British statesman
Browning rifleJohn Moses Browning (1834-1926), American firearm designer
Bubnoff unitSerge von Bubnoff (1888-1957), Russian geologist
Buddhism; BuddhistBuddha, title taken by Prince Gautama Siddharta (c.563-c.483BC), Hindu religious teacher
buddleiaAdam Buddle (c.1660-1715), English rector and botanist
buhlworkA. C. Boule (1642-1732), French cabinet-maker
bunkum, bunkBuncombe County, N Carolina, USA, named after Colonel Edward Buncombe, 19th century Revolutionary War hero
Bunsen burnerRobert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-99), German chemist
Buridan's assJean Buridan (c.1295-1356), French philosopher
burkeWilliam Burke, 19th century Irish smotherer
Burkitt's LymphomaDenis Parsons Burkitt (1911-93), British surgeon
Burnham scaleHarry Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham (1862-1933), English statesman
busbyDr Richard Busby (1606-95), English headmaster
ByronicGeorge Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), English poet

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~ C ~

Cadmean victoryCadmus, mythological Greek prince, the legendary founder of Thebes
Caesarean sectionGaius Julius Caesar, Roman emperor
Caesar saladCaesar Cardini, Mexican restaurateur
calamineAs entry for Cadmean victory
CalvinismJohn Calvin (1509-64), French theologian
camelliaGeorge Josef Kamel (1661-1706), Moravian Jesuit missionary
cannibalCanibales, Spanish name given by Christopher Columbus to the Caribs, the American Indian people of the Lesser Antilles & northern South America
cardiganJames Thomas Brudnell, 7th Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868), British cavalry officer
CasanovaGiovanni Jacopo Casanova (1725-98), Italian adventurer
CassandraCassandra, daughter of Priam, legendary Greek king of Troy
Catherine wheelSt Catherine of Alexandria, Christian martyr
Cattell scaleJames McKeen Cattell (1860-1944), American psychologist
cattleyaWilliam Cattley (d.1832), English botanist and horticultural patron
CelsiusAnders Celsius (1701-44), Swedish astronomer and scientist
cerealCeres, Roman goddess of grain and agriculture
Charles's lawJacques Alexandre César Charles (1746-1823), French scientist
charlotte russePrincess Charlotte (1796-1817), daughter of King George IV of England
chateaubriandFrançois René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), French writer and statesman
chauvinismNicolas Chauvin, French soldier in Napoleon's army
ChippendaleThomas Chippendale (c.1718-79), English cabinet-maker and furniture disigner
churrigueresqueJosé Churriguera (1650-1725), Spanish architect and sculptor
ciceroneMarcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC), Roman orator and statesman
cinchonaCountess Ana de Chinchón (1576-1641), Spanish vicereine of Peru
clarenceKing William IV of England (1765-1837) (formerly Duke of Clarence)
clasiusRudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius (1822-88), German mathematical physicist
clerihewEdmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), English writer
Colt pistolSamuel Colt (1814-62), American engineer
comstockeryAnthony Comstock (1844-1915), American moral crusader
ConfucianismConfucius (551-479BC), Chinese philosopher
cordobaFrancisco Fernandez de Córdoba (c.1475-1526), Spanish soldier and explorer
CouéismEmil Coué (1857-1926), French psychologist and chemist
coulombCharles Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806), French physicist
cravatHrvat , 17th century French name for a native of Croatia
cretinCrestin, Swiss name of a people who lived in the Swiss Alps
Creutzfeldt-Jakob DiseaseHans Gerhard Creutzfeldt (1885-1964) and Alfons Maria Jakob (1884-1931), German neurologists
Crohn's DiseaseBurrill Bernard Crohn (1884-1983), American gastroenterologist
Cruft'sCharles Cruft (1852-1938), British dog breeder and showman
Cuisenaire rodsEmil-Georges Cuisenaire (c.1891-1976), Belgian educationalist
curiePierre (1859-1906) and Marie Curie (1867-1934), French scientists
Curzon lineGeorge Nathaniel, 1st Marquis Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925), British politician
Cushing's diseaseHarvey Williams Cushing (1869-1939), American neurosurgeon
CyrillicSt Cyril (826-69) and St Methodius (c.815-85), Greek translators

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~ D ~

daguerrotypeLouis Jaques Mandé Daguerre (1789-1851), French painter and pioneering photographer
dahliaAnders Dahl (1751-1789), Swedish botanist
daltonism/Dalton's lawJohn Dalton (1766-1844), English chemist
Dandie Dinmont terrierDandie Dinmont, character in Guy Mannering (1815) by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
DanteanDante Alighieri (1265-1321), Italian poet
Darby and JoanJohn Darby (d.1730, English printer, and his wife Joan
DarwinianCharles Darwin (1809-82), English naturalist
Davis CupDwight Filley Davis (1879-1945), American statesman and sportsman
Davy lampSir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), British chemist
debeyPeter Joseph Wilhelm Debey (1884-1966), German scientist
decibelAlexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Scottish-born American scientist
DerbyEdward Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby (1752-1834)
derrickGoodman Derrick, 17th century English hangman
derringerHenry Deringer (1786-1868), American gunsmith
deutziaJean Deutz (c.1743-c.1784), Dutch patron of botany
Dewar flaskSir James Dewar (1842-1923), Scottish chemist and physicist
Dewey Decimal SystemMelvil Dewey (1851-1931), American librarian
DickensianCharles Dickens (1812-70), English novelist
diddleJeremy Diddler, character in Raising the Wind by dramatist James Kenney (1780-1849)
dieselRudolf Diesel (1858-1913), German mechanical engineer
DionysianDionysus, Greek god of wine, fruitfulness and vegetation
DioscoreaDioscorides Pedanius (c.Ad40-c.90), Greek physician
Doberman PinscherLudwig Dobermann, 19th century German dog breeder
doggerelMatthew Doggerel (1330-1405), English poet
doilyMr Doyley (first name unknown), 17th century London draper
dolomiteDeodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801), French geologist
Doppler effectChristian Johann Doppler (1803-53), Austrian physicist
Douglas firDavid Douglas (1798-1834), Scottish botanist
Douglas scaleSir Henry P. Douglas (1876-1939), English meteorologist
Dow-Jones indexCharles Henry Dow (1851-1902) and Edward D. Jones (1856-1920), American financial statisticians
Downing StreetSir George Downing (1623-84), English statesman
Down's syndromeJohn Langdon-Down (1828-96), English physician
draconianDraco, 7th century BC Athenian law-giver
dunceJohn Duns Scotus (c.1265-1308), Scottish theologian

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~ E ~

Eggs BenedictCommodore E. C. Benedict (1834-1920), American banker and yachtsman
Eiffel TowerAlexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), French engineer
einstein, einsteiniumAlbert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born American physicist
Eisenmenger's ComplexVictor Eisenmenger (1864-1932), Austrian physician
Electra complexElectra, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology
Elgin MarblesThomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (1766-1841), British ambassador
ElizabethanQueen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603)
éminence griseÉminence gris, nickname of Père Joseph (François le Clerc du Tremblay 1577-1638), French friar and diplomat
Eotvos unitRoland, Baron von Eötvös (1848-1919), Hungarian physicist
epicure; EpicureanEpicurus (341-270BC), Greek philosopher
ErastianismThomas Erastus (1524-83), Swiss theologian
erlangAgner Krarup Erlang (1878-1929), Dutch scientist
eroticEros, Greek god of love
eschscholtziaJohann Friedrich von Eschscholtz (1793-1834), Russian-born German naturalist
EsperantoDr Esperanto, pseudonym of Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof (1859-1917), Polish doctor and linguist
Euclidean geometryEuclid, 3rd century BC Greek mathematician
euhemerismEhhemerus, 4th century Sicilian Greek philosopher
euphorbiaEuphorbus, 1st century AD Greek physician
euphuismEuphues, character in the prose romance in two parts Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and his England (1580) by English writer John Lyly (c.1554-1606)
Eustachian tubeBartolommeo Eustachio (1524-74), Greek philosopher

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~ F ~

FahrenheitGabriel Daniel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), German scientist
Falkland IslandsLucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland (c.1610-43), English secretary of state
Fallopian tubeGabriel Fallopius (1523-62), Italian anatomist
Fanconi's SyndromeGuido Fanconi (1892-1979), Swiss paediatrician
farad, faradayMichael Faraday (1791-1867), British chemist and physicist
faun; faunaFaunus, Roman god of pastures and forests
fermi, fermiumEnrico Fermi (1901-54), Italian-born American physicist
Ferris wheelGeorge Washington Gale Ferris (1859-96), American engineer
Fibonacci NumbersLeonardo Pisano Fibonacci (1170-1250), Italian mathematician
filbertSaint Philibert (d.684), Frankish abbot whose feast day (22 Aug) marks the ripening season of the nuts
floraFlora, Roman goddess of flowers, youth and spring
Fokker airplaneAnthony Herman Gerard Fokker (1890-1939), Dutch-born aircraft designer and manufacturer
Forel scaleFrançois-Alphonse Forel (1841-1912), Swiss physiologist and anatomist
forsythiaWilliam Forsyth (1737-1804), British botanist
Fosbury FlopDick Fosbury (b1947), American athlete
frangipaniMarquis Frangipani, 16th century Italian nobleman
Fraunhofer linesJoseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826), German physicist and optician
freesiaFriedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (d.1876), German physician
fresnelAugustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827), French physicist
Freudian slipSigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychiatrist
FridayFrig (or Frigga), Norse goddess of married love
fuchsiaLeonard Fuchs (1501-66), German botanist and physician
Fujita scaleTetsuya Theodore Fujita (1920-98), American meteorologist

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~ G ~

gadolinite, gadoliniumJohann Gadolin (1760-1852), Finnish chemist
gal, GalileanGalileo (1564-1642), Italian astronomer
galenicalGalen (AD129-199), Greek physician
Gallup pollGeorge Horace Gallup (1901-84), American statistician
galvaniseLuigi Galvani (1739-98), Italian physiologist
gampMrs Sarah Gamp, nurse in the novel Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
gardeniaAlexander Garden (1730-91), Scottish-American botanist
gargantuanGargantua, gigantic king in the novel Gargantua by French satirist Francois Rabelais (c.1494-1553)
garibaldi biscuitGiuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), Italian patriot and soldier
Gatling gunRichard Jordan Gatling (1818-1903), American inventor
Gaullism; GaullistCharles (André Joseph Marie) de Gaulle (1890-1970), French General and President
gaussKarl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), German mathematician
Gay-Lussac's lawJoseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850), French scientist
Geiger counterHans Geiger (1882-1945), German physicist
gentianGentius, 2nd century-BC king of Illyria
georgetteMadame Georgette de la Plante, late 19th century French dressmaker
GeorgiaKing George II of England, (1683-1760)
GeorgianReigns of Kings George I to George IV of England (1714-1830)
gerrymanderElbridge Gerry (1744-1814), American politician
GideonsGideon, Old Testament judge
gilbertWilliam Gilbert (1544-1603), English scientist
Gilbert's SyndromeNicolas Augustin Gilbert (1858-1927), French physician
GilbertianSir William Schwenk Gilbert (1836-1911), English comic dramatist
Gladstone bagWilliam Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), British statesman and prime minister
Goethian; goethiteJohann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German poet, writer, scholar and scientist
golliwogGolliwog, animated doll in children's books by Bertha Upton (d.1912), American writer
GongorismLuis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627), Spanish priest and lyric poet
Gordon Bennett!Gordon Bennet (1841-1918), American newspaper proprietor
Gordon setterAlexander Gordon (1743-1827), Scottish nobleman
GothicThe Goths, a Germanic people who originated in Scandinavia
Graafian follicleRegnier de Graaf (1641-73), Dutch physician and anatomist
gradgrindThomas Gradgrind, character in novel Hard Times (1854) by Charles Dickens
graham bread/cracker/flourSylvester Graham (1794-1851), American dietary reformer
grangeriseJames Granger (1723-76), English writer and clergyman
Granny Smith appleMaria Ann Smith (d 1870), Australian gardener
Graves' diseaseRobert James Graves (1796-1853), Irish physician
grayLouis Harold Gray (1905-65), English physicist and radiologist
greengageSir William Gage (1777-1864), English botanist
Gregorian calendarPope Gregory XIII (born Ugo Buoncampagno; 1502-1585)
Gregorian chantPope Gregory I (c.AD540-604)
Gresham's lawSir Thomas Gresham (c.1519-79), English financier
Grimm's lawJakob Ludwig Karl Grimm (1785-1863), German philologist
grog, groggyOld Grog, nickname of Sir Edward Vernon (1684-1757), British admiral
guillemotGuillemot, affectionate form of Guillaume, the French version of the English name William
guillotineJoseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814, French physician
gunGunhildr, Old Norse female name
Gunter's chain; gunter rigEdmund Gunter (1581-1626), English mathematician and astronomer
guppyRobert J. L. Guppy (1836-1916), Trinidad born British scientist
Guttman scaleLouis Guttman (1916-87), American psychologist and mathematician
guyGuy Fawkes (1570-1606), English conspirator

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~ H ~

Hadrian's WallHadrian (AD76-138), Roman emperor
Halley's cometEdmund Halley (1656-1742), British astronomer
HansardLuke Hansard (1752-1828), English printer
hansom cabJoseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-82), English architect
hartreeDouglas Rayner Hartree (1897-1958), English mathematician and physicist
havelockSir Henry Havelock (1795-1857), British general
Heath RobinsonWilliam Heath Robinson (1872-1944), English artist
Heaviside layerOliver Heaviside (1850-1925), British physicist
hectorHector, Greek legendary character
hefner candleFriedrich Franz von Hefner-Alteneck (1845-1904), German engineer
Heimlich ManoeuvreDr Henry Heimlich (b1920), American physician
henryJoseph Henry (1797-1878), American physicist
HepplewhiteGeorge Hepplewhite (d.1786), English cabinet-maker
herculeanHercules, Greek demigod
hermaphroditeHermaphroditos, Greek mythical son of Hermes and Aphrodite
hermeticHermes Trismegistus, Greek name of Egyptian god of learning
hertzHeinrich Rudolph Hertz (1857-94), German physicist
Hilary termSt Hilary of Poitiers (c.315-c.367)
Hindenburg linePaul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (1847-1934), German general
Hippocratic oathHippocrates (c.460-c.377BC), Greek physician
Ho Chi Minh CityHo Chi Minh (original name Nguyen That Thanh; 1890-69), Vietnamese statesman
Hobson's choiceThomas Hobson (1544-1631), English liveryman
Hodgkin's diseaseThomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), English physician
hooliganPatrick Hooligan, Irish criminal active in London in the 1890s
HooverWilliam Henry Hoover (1849-1932), American businessman
Huntingdon's choreaGeorge S. Huntingdon (1851-1916), American neurologist
hyacinthHyacinthus, attractive youth in Greek mythology
hygieneHygeia, Greek goddess of health
hypnosisHypnos, Greek god of sleep

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~ I ~

IrisIris, Greek goddess of the rainbow

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~ J ~

jackanapesJack Napes, nickname of William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk (d. 1450), English nobleman
Jack Russell terrierJohn (Jack) Russell (1795-1883), English clergyman
Jacquard loomJoseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834), French weaver and inventor
JacuzziCandido Jacuzzi (1903-86), Italian/US inventor and businessman
janskyKarl C. Jansky (1905-50), Czech-born American radio engineer
JanuaryJanus, Roman god of doors, thresholds and bridges
JCBInitials of Joseph Cyril Bamford (b.1916), English manufacturer
Jekyll and HydeMain character in novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94)
jeremiadJeremiah, Old Testament prophet
jeroboamJeroboam, first king of the northern kingdom of Israel
jerry canJerry, the word for a German or German soldier
JezebelJezebel, biblical figure, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre and Sidon
JonahJonah, Hebrew prophet
jorumJoram, character in Old Testament (II Samuel 8:10)
jouleJames Prescott Joule (1818-89), English physicist
jovialJove, an older name for Jupiter, supreme god of Roman mythology
JudasJudas Iscariot, Christ's betrayer
juggernautJagannath, Lord of the World, title of Hindu god Vishnu
Julian calendarJulius Caesar, 44BC Roman emperor
JulyAs entry for Julian calendar
jumboJumbo, 6½ ton African elephant exhibited at London Zoo from 1865 to 1882
June; JunoesqueJuno, Roman goddess of the moon, women and marriage

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~ K ~

KafkaesqueFranz Kafka (1883-1924), Austro-Hungarian, then Czech writer
kayserHeinrich Gustav Johannes Kayser (1853-1940), German physicist
kelvinWilliam Thomson Kelvin, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824-1907), Scottish physicist
Klein bottleFelix Klein (1849-1925), German mathematician
klieg lightJohn H. (1869-1959) and Anton T. Kleigl (1872-1927), American lighting experts
knickerbockersDietrich Knickerbocker, pseudonym of Washington Irving (1783-1859), American author
Köchel numberLudwig von Köchel (1800-77), Austrian botanist and cataloguer

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~ L ~

Lamaze MethodFernand Lamaze (1890-1957), French obstetrician
lambertJohann Heinrich Lambert (1728-77), German scientist
langleySamuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906), American astronomer
lawrenciumErnest Orlando Lawrence (1901-58), American physicist
Leninism; LeningradVladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924), Russian statesman
leotardJules Léotard (1842-70), French acrobat
lesbianSappho of Lesbos (c. 600 BC), Greek poetess
LevisLevi Strauss (1830-1902), Bavarian immigrant to the USA and clothing merchant
lewisiteWinford Lee Lewis (1878-1943), American chemist
LinnaeanCarolus Linnaeus (1707-78; original name Carl von Linné), Swedish botanist
lobeliaMatthias de Lobel (1538-1616), Flemish botanist and physician
Lobster NewburgBen Wenberg, West Indies ship captain
loganberryJames Harvey Logan (1841-1928), American judge
Lonsdale beltHugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale (1857-1944), English sportsman
LucullanLucius Licinus Lucullus (c.110-57BC), Roman general
LudditeNed Ludd, 18th century English labourer
lynchWilliam Lynch (1742-1820), American plantation owner and vigilante

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~ M ~

macadamJohn Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), Scottish engineer
macadamia nutJohn Macadam (1827-65), Australian scientist
Mach numberErnst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher
MachiavellianNiccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), Italian political theorist
mackintoshCharles Mackintosh (1760-1843), Scottish chemist
madeleineMadeleine Paulmier, 19th century French pastrycook
Mae WestMae West (1892-1980), American actress
Maginot lineAndré Maginot (1877-1932), French WWII minister of war
magnoliaPierre Magnol (1638-1715), French botanist
malapropismMrs Malaprop, character in play The Rivals by Irish dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)
Malpighian corpuscle/layerMarcello Malpighi (1628-94), Italian physiologist
MalthusianThomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), English economist
mansard roofFrançois Mansart (1598-1666), French classical architect
MaoismMao Tse-tung (Chinese, Mao Zedong; 1893-1976), Chinese revolutionary
marcelMarcel Grateau (1852-1936), French hairdresser
MarchMars, Roman god of war
marigoldVirgin Mary, mother of Jesus
marmaladeJoao Marmalado (1450-1510), Portugal
martinSt Martin, 4th-century Bishop of Tours
martinetJean Martinet, French army officer during the reign of Louis XIV
MarxismKarl Marx (1818-83), German political philosopher
masochismLeopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-95), Austrian novelist
maudlinMary Magdalen, who wept at the empty tomb after the resurrection of Jesus
MauserPeter Paul von Mauser (1838-1914) and brother Wilhelm (1834-82), German firearms inventors
mausoleumKing Mausolus, ruler of Caria in ancient Greece
maverickSamuel Augustus Maverick (1803-70), American pioneer
Maxim gunSir Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840-1916), US-born British inventor
maxwellJames Clerk Maxwell (1831-79), Scottish physicist
MayMaia, Roman goddess of spring and fertility
Melba toastDame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), Australian soprano
mendeleviumDmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev (1834-1907), Russian chemist
Mendel's lawsGregor Johann Mendel (1822-84), Austrian botanist
MennoniteMenno Simons (1492-1559), Dutch religious reformer
mentorMentor, Odysseus's loyal friend in Homer's Odyssey
Mercalli scaleGiuseppe Mercalli (1850-1914), Italian volcanologist
Mercator projectionGerardus Mercator (original name Gerhard Kremer; 1512-94), Flemish geographer
mesmeriseFranz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Austrian physician and hypnotist
MesserschmittWilly Messerschmitt (1898-1978), German aircraft designer
methuselahMethuselah, Old Testament patriarch (Genesis 5:27)
Mickey FinnMickey Finn, Chicago saloon-keeper at the end of the 19th century
mintJuno, Roman goddess known by the title Moneta, 'the admonisher'
mithridatismMithridates VI, called the Great (c.132-63BC), king of Pontus
Möbius stripAugust Ferdinand Möbius (1780-1868), German mathematician
mogulMogul, a member of the Muslim dynasty of rulers in 16th -17th century India
Mohs scaleFriedrich Mohs (1773-1839), German minerologist
mollyComte Nicolas-François Mollien (1758-1850), French statesman
Molotov cocktailVyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (1890-1986), Soviet statesman
MontbretiaA. F. E. Coquebert de Montbret (1780-1801), French botanist
Montessori methodMaria Montessori (1870-1952), Italian physician
Montezuma's revengeMontezuma II (1480-1520), ruler of the Aztec Empire of Mexico
Moog synthesiserRobert Arthur Moog (b.1934), American physicist, engineer and electrician
MoonieSun Myung Moon (original name Yong Myung Moon; b.1920), Korean industrialist
morganThomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945), American physiologist
morphineMorpheus, Greek god of dreams
Morrison shelterHerbert Stanley Morrison (1888-1965), British statesman
Morse codeSamuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), American artist and inventor
Mount EverestSir George Everest (1790-1866), English surveyor-general of India
Mrs MopMrs Mopp, character in the BBC radio programme ITMA during WWII

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~ N ~

namby-pambyNickname of Ambrose Philips (1674-1749), English poet
NapoleonicNapoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), French emperor
Napierian, Napier's BonesJohn Napier (1550-1647), Scottish mathematician
narcissismNarcissus, beautiful young man of Greek mythology
nebuchadnezzarNebuchadnezzar, Old Testament king of Babylon
negusColonel Francis Negus (d.1732), English soldier
nemesisNemesis, Greek goddess of retribution
nestorNestor, king of Pylos in Greek legend
newtonSir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), British physicist and mathematician
nicotineJean Nicot (1530-1600), French diplomat
Nissen hutLieutenant Colonel Peter Norman Nissen (1871-1930), British mining engineer
Nobel prize, nobeliumAlfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-96), Swedish chemist, manufacturer and philanthropist
nosey parkerMatthew Parker (1504-75), Anglican churchman

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~ O ~

Ockham's razorWilliam of Ockham (c.1285-1349), English philosopher and Franciscan
Oedipus complexOedipus, character in Greek mythology
oerstedH. C. Oersted (1777-1851), Danish physicist
ohmGeorg Simon Ohm (1787-1854), German physicist
onanismOnan, biblical character
OrangemanWilliam III (1650-1702), Protestant king of England
orreryCharles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731)
OrwellianGeorge Orwell (real name, Eric Arthur Blair; 1903-50), English novelist
OscarOscar Pierce, American wheat and fruit grower
Otto engineNikolaus August Otto (1832-91), German engineer
ottomanOthman, original name of Osman I (1259-1326), sultan of Turkey

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~ P ~

paean, peonyApollo (title, Paion), god of healing and physician of the gods in Greek mythology
PalladianAndrea Palladio (1508-80), Italian architect
palladiumWooden statue of the Greek goddess Pallas Athene
panderPandarus, character in poem Filostrato by the Italian Giovanni Boccaccio
Pandora's boxPandora ('all gifts'), in Greek mythology, the first woman
panicPan, Greek god of woods, shepherds and flocks
pantaloon/pantsSan Pantaleone, 4th century Venetian physician and saint
Pap test (or smear)George Nicholas Papanicolaou (1883-1962), Greek-born American anatomist
Pareto principleVilfredo Frederico Pareto (1848-1923), Italian economist and sociologist
Parkinson's diseaseJames Parkinson (1755-1824), British physician
Parkinson's lawCyril Northcote Parkinson (b.1909), English historian and author
pascalBlaise Pascal (1623-1662), French mathematician
pasteuriseLouise Pasteur (1822-95), French chemist and bacteriologist
Pauling scaleLinus Carl Pauling (1901-94), American physical chemist
pavlovaAnna Pavlova (1885-1931), Russian ballerina
PavlovianIvan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), Russian physiologist
Peach MelbaDame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), Australian soprano
pecksniffianSeth Pecksniff, character in novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) by Charles Dickens
PennsylvaniaSir William Penn (1621-70), British admiral
Peter principleDr Laurence J. Peter (b.1919), Canadian educator
petershamCharles Stanhope, Viscount Petersham, 4th Earl of Harrington (1780-1851), English army officer
Petrarchan sonnetPetrarch (Italian name, Francesco Petrarca; 1304-74), Italian poet
Petri dishJulius Petri (1852-1921), German bacteriologist
pinchbeckChristopher Pinchbeck (c.1670-1732), English watchmaker
Planck's constantMax K. E. L. Planck (1858-1947), German physicist
platonicPlato (c.427-347BC), Greek philosopher
Plinean eruptionPliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus) (c. A.D.23-A.D.79), Roman naturalist
Plimsoll line, plimsollSamuel Plimsoll (1824-98), English shipping reform leader
poinsettiaNoel Roberts Poinsett (1779-151), American diplomat
poiseJ. L. M. Poiseuille (1799-1869), French physician
pompadourJeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise De Pompadour (1721-64), French aristocrat
ponceletJean Victor Pocelet (1788-1867), French mathematician
Ponzi SchemeCarlo Ponzi (1882-1949), Italian-born American swindler
pralineCésar de Choiseul, Count Plessis-Praslin (1598-1675), French field marshal
Pre-RaphaeliteRaphael (original name Raffaello Santi; 1483-1520), Italian painter
ProcrusteanProcrustes, robber in Greek mythology
PrometheanPrometheus, demigod in Greek mythology
proteanProteus, sea god in Greek mythology
Pulitzer prizeJoseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), Hungarian-born US newspaper publisher
PullmanGeorge Mortimer Pullman (1831-97), American inventor
pyrrhic victoryPyrrhus (c.318-272 BC), king of Epirus
Pythagoras's theoremPythagoras (c569-c575BC), Greek philosopher and mathematician
pythonPython, monstrous serpent in Greek mythology

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~ Q ~

quassiaGraman Quassi, 18th century Surinam negro slave
Queensberry rulesJohn Sholto Douglas, 8th Marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900)
quislingVidkun Abraham Quisling (1887-1945), Norwegian politician
QuixoticDon Quixote, hero of novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)

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~ R ~

RabelaisianFrançois Rabelais (1483-1553), French writer
RachmanismPeter (Perec) Rachman (1920-62), Polish-born British landlord
RafflesiaSir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), British colonial administrator
raglanFitzroy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan (1788-1855), British field marshal
Rankine scaleWilliam John Macquorn Rankine (1820-72), Scottish civil engineer
RastafarianHaile Selassie (1892-1975), Emperor of Ethiopia 1930, title Ras Tafari
rayl, rayleighJohn William Strutt, 3rd Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919), British physicist
Raynaud's diseaseMaurice Raynaud (1834-81), French physician
Réaumur scaleRéne Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (1683-1757), French scientist
rehoboamRehoboam, Old Testament son of Solomon, king of Israel & Judah
ReutersBaron Paul Julius von Reuter (original name Israel Beer Josaphat; 1816-99), German newsman
Reynolds number, reynOsborne Reynolds (1842-1912), English physicist
rhesus monkey, Rh factorRhesus, king of Thrace, in Greek mythology
riccettsiaHoward T. Ricketts (1871-1910), American pathologist
Richter scaleCharles Richter (1900-85), American seismologist
Ringelmann scaleMaximilien Ringelmann (1861-1931), German agricultural engineer
ritzyCésar Ritz (1850-1918), Swiss hotelier
rodomontadeRodomont, Saracen king of Algiers in Ariosto's Orlando Innamorato & Orlando Furioso
Rolls-RoyceCharles Stewart Rolls (1877-1910) and Sir Frederick Henry Royce (1836-1933), English car manufacturers
roentgen/röntgenWilhelm Konrad Röntgen (1845-1923), German physicist
Rorschach testHermann Rorschach (1884-1922), Swiss psychiatrist
RubenesquePeter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Flemish painter
Rubik's cubeErnö Rubik (b.1944), Hungarian designer, sculptor and architect
RudbeckiaOlof Rudbeck (1630-1702), Swedish botanist
rutherfordErnest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford (1871-1937), British physicist
rydbergJohannes Robert Rydberg (1854-1919), Swedish physicist

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~ S ~

sabinWallace Clement Sabine (1868-1919), American physicist
Sabin vaccineAlbert Bruce Sabin (b.1906), Polish-born American microbiologist
sadismCount Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814), French soldier and writer
St Bernard dogSt Bernard of Menthon (923-1008) Italian churchman
Salisbury SteakJames J. Salisbury, 19th century English physician
Salk vaccineJonas Edward Salk (b.1914), American microbiologist
salmonellaDaniel Elmer Salmon (1850-1914), American veterinary surgeon
Sam Browne beltSir Samuel J. Browne (1824-1901), British army officer
samarskiteColonel M. von Samarski, Russian mine official
sandwichJohn Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-92), English diplomat
SanforiseSandford Lockwood Cluett (1840-1968), American inventor
SaturdaySaturn, Roman god of agriculture
savarinAntheline Brillat-Savarin (d. 1826), French politician and gourmet
savartFélix Savart (1791-1841), French physicist
saxhorn, saxophoneAdolphe Sax (1814-94), Belgian musical-instrument maker
sequoiaSequoya (c.1770-1843), American Indian
ShakespeareanWilliam Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatist and poet
ShavianGeorge Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish dramatist and socialist
shrapnelHenry Shrapnel (1761-1842), English artillery officer
sideburnsAmbrose Everett Burnside (1824-81), American general
siemensErnst Werner von Siemens (1816-92), German electrical engineer
sievertR. M. Sievert (1896-1966), Swedish physicist
silhouetteÉtienne de Silhouette (1709-67), French politician
silly-billyWilliam IV (1765-1837), English king
simonySimon Magus, 1st century astrologer from Samaria
slaveSclavus, Medieval Latin word for 'a Slav', a member of the Slavonic people of central Europe
smithsonite; Smithsonian InstitutionJames Smithson (original name James Lewes Macie; 1765-1829), English chemist
Snellen scaleHermann Snellen (1834-1908), Dutch ophthalmologist
Socratic method/ironySocrates (c.470-399BC), Greek philosopher
sophist; sophistry; sophismThe sophists, 5th & 4th century BC Greek itinerant teachers
soubiseCharles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise (1715-87), French nobleman
sousaphoneJohn Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), American composer and bandleader
spanielEspaigneul, Old French word meaning 'Spanish'
spencerGeorge John Spencer, 2nd Earl of Spencer (1758-1834), English politician
Spenserian stanza/sonnetEdmund Spenser (c.1552-99), English poet
SpodeJosiah Spode (1754-1827), British potter
spoonerismReverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), English churchman
StalinismJoseph Stalin (original name Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili; 1879-1953), Soviet leader
stentorianStentor, herald in Greek mythology
stetsonJohn Bauerson Stetson (1830-1906), American hat-maker
stoicThe Stoics, a school of ancient Greek philosophers
stokesGeorge G. Stokes (1819-1903)
stonewallStonewall Jackson, nickname of Thomas Jonathan Jackson (1824-63), American general
SvedbergTheodor S. Svedberg (1884-1971), Swedish chemist
SvengaliCharacter in Trilby, novel by English artist and writer George du Maurier (1834-96)
sverdrupHarald Ulrich Sverdrup (1888-1957), Norwegian meteorologist and oceanographer
SwedenborgianEmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), Swedish philosopher and mystic
SwiftianJonathan Swift (1667-1745), Anglo-Irish clergyman, poet and satirist
syphilisSyphilis, character in the poem Syphilis seve Morbus Gallicus by Girolamo Fracastro (1483-1553)

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~ T ~

talbot, talbotypeWilliam Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77), British scientist
tam o' shanterHero of poem Tam o' Shanter (1791), by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-96)
tantaliseTantalus, mythical king of Phrygia
tarmac(short for 'tarmacadam') John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), Scottish engineer
TasmaniaAbel Janszoon Tasman (1603-59), Dutch navigator
tattersallRichard Tattersall (1724-95), English horseman
tawdrySt Audrey (Ethelrida; d.679), Queen of Northumbria, patron saint of Ely
teddy bearTheodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), American president
Teddy boyEdward VII (1841-1910), English king
teslaNikola Tesla (1857-1943), Croatian-born American electrician and inventor
tetrazziniLuisa Tetrazzini (1874-1940), Italian opera singer
ThatcherismMargaret Hilda Thatcher (b.1925), British politician and prime minister
thereminLev Theremin (1896-1993), Russian engineer
thespianThespis, 6th century Greek poet
ThursdayThor, Norse god of thunder
timothyTimothy Hanson, American famer through whom it first came into use as a fodder grass
titan; titanicThe Titans, 12 primeval gigantic gods and goddesses in Greek mythology
titchyHarry Relph (1867-1928), English actor, stage name Little Titch
TitianTitian (c.1487-1576), Italian painter
Tommy gunJohn Taliaferro Thompson (1860-1940), American army general
tontineLorenzo Tonti (1620-95), Neopolitan banker
TonyAntoinette Perry (1888-1946), American actress
torr, TorricellianEvangelista Torricelli (1608-47), Italian physicist and mathematician
tradescantiaJohn Tradescant (c.1570-1638), English traveller and gardener
trilbyTrilby, novel by English artist and writer George du Maurier (1834-96)
trolandLeonard T. Troland (1889-1932), American biochemist
TrotskyismLeon Trotsky (original name Lev Davidovich Bronstein; 1879-1940), Russian revolutionary
trudgenJohn Arthur Trudgen (1860-1940), English swimmer
TuesdayTiw (or Tyr), Anglo-Saxon god of war and the sky

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U

UziUziel Gal (1923-2002), Israeli inventor

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~ V ~

valentineValentine, 3rd century Christian martyr
Van Allen beltsJames Alfred Van Allen (b.1914), American physicist
vandalThe Vandals, Germanic people that overran Gaul, Spain, North Africa and Rome in the 5th century
venerealVenus, Roman goddess of love
Venn diagramJohn Venn (1834-1923), English mathematician and logician
vernierPierre Vernier (1580-1637), French mathematician
Very light/pistolEdward W. Very (1847-1910), American naval officer
vesta; vestalVesta, Roman goddess of the hearth
VictorianQueen Victoria of England (1819-1901)
volcano, vulcaniseVulcan, Roman god of fire and metalworking
voltCount Alessandron Volta (1745-1827), Italian physicist

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~ W ~

WagnerianWilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-83), German composer
Wankel engineFelix Wankel (b.1902), German engineer
WashingtonGeorge Washington (1732-99), American statesman and US president
Wassermann testAugust von Wassermann (1866-1925), German bacteriologist
WattJames Watt (1736-1819), Scottish engineer and inventor
Watteau back/hatAntoine Watteau (1684-1721), French painter
weberWilhelm Eduard Weber (1804-91), German physicist
Wechsler scaleDavid Wechsler (1896-1981), American psychologist
WedgwoodJosiah Wedgwood (1730-95), English potter
WednesdayWoden, god of wisdom, culture and war
wellington bootArthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), British soldier and statesman
Wendy houseWendy, girl in the play Peter Pan by Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937)
Wentworth scaleC. K. Wentworth (1891-1969), American geologist
WesleyanJohn Wesley (1703-91), English preacher
Whightman CupHazel Hotchkiss Wightman (1886-1974), American tennis player
Winchester rifleOliver Fisher Winchester (1810-80), American manufacturer
wisteriaCaspar Wistar (1761-1818), American anatomist

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~ Y ~

Yale lockLinus Yale (1821-68), American locksmith
yarboroughCharles Anderson Worsley, 2nd Earl of Yarborough (d.1897), English nobleman

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~ Z ~

zanyZanni, traditional masked clown in the Italian commedia dell'arte
ZeppelinCount Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), German general and aeronautical pioneer
zinniaJohann Gottfried Zinn (1727-59), German botanist and anatomist
ZoroastrianismZoroaster (c.660-583), Persian prophet
ZwinglianUlrich Zwingli (1484-1531), Swiss theologian

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