Theme – Eponyms
1. silhouette (sil-oo-ET)
noun: The outline of someone or something, filled in with a solid color.
verb tr.: To show in a silhouette.
After French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette (1709-1767). It’s unclear how Silhouette’s name became associated with this art form. Perhaps it was alluding to his austerity measures during the Seven Years’ War, as a silhouette was a cheap way to making a portrait instead of a painting. It’s also said that he was fond of hanging these kinds of portraits in his office. Earliest documented use: 1798.
“It’s just a silhouette. Many of us have met shadows of people and not the people.”
noun: A man notorious for his many love affairs; a seducer.
“I’m not a Casanova. I have too much respect for women and relationships to have frivolous affairs.”
3. Xanthippe or Xantippe (zan-THIP-ee, -TIP-)
noun: A nagging, ill-tempered woman.
After Xanthippe, wife of Socrates (c. 5 century BCE) who has been portrayed as a nagging, quarrelsome woman. The name Xanthippe is from xanthos (yellow) + hippos (horse).
Socrates is said to have advised, “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” It’s not known what Socrates thought would happen if the roles were reversed. Also, there’s the question of which came first: philosophizing or being ill-tempered. Would being married to a philosopher turn a woman into a shrew?
Mistress Foster is a grasping shrew, a Xanthippe, who bosses her husband about.”
4. shrapnel (SHRAP-nel)
noun: Fragments of an exploded bomb, shell, mine, etc.
After Henry Shrapnel (1761-1842), English army officer. He invented an artillery shell containing metal balls, which exploded in the air near the target. Earliest documented use: 1806.
“It’s true that Hagel harbors a healthy skepticism about deploying American troops. That’s because he also harbors shrapnel in his chest from Vietnam and appreciates the human costs when Pentagon officials move pins on maps.”
5. Don Juan (don wahn)
noun: An obsessive womanizer.
After Don Juan, a legendary 14th century Spanish nobleman, who devoted his life to seducing women. The story of Don Juan has been portrayed by many including Moliere, Mozart, Byron, and Shaw.
“Oscar had always been a Don Juan … but now that we were nearly 50, there was something desperate about his mania for conquests.”