Monday, January 31, 2005

Quixotic chauvinism

While writing this post, I had forgotten two words, one from the name of a fictional character (how could I have forgotten?) and one from an actual person. The first of course is "quixotic", from Cervantes' Don Quixote, and the other "chauvinism", which I'll let the OED describe:

F. chauvinisme, orig. ‘idolatrie napoléonienne’ La Rousse; from the surname of a veteran soldier of the First Republic and Empire, Nicolas Chauvin of Rochefort, whose demonstrative patriotism and loyalty were celebrated, and at length ridiculed, by his comrades. After the fall of Napoleon, applied in ridicule to old soldiers of the Empire, who professed a sort of idolatrous admiration for his person and acts. Especially popularized as the name of one of the characters in Cogniard's famous vaudeville, La Cocarde Tricolore, 1831 (‘je suis français, je suis Chauvin’); and now applied to any one smitten with an absurd patriotism, and enthusiasm for national glory and military ascendancy.


Update:I was thinking that no doubt there were more words that derived from French names and sure enough I remembered the classic combination of "sadism" (Marquis de Sade) and "masochism" (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch). Consult your local OED for more.

Update:Thinking about it more, "ism" words aren't quite as interesting as the others. One could continue with "calvinism", "onanism", and go on and on...

3 Comments:

Blogger Celestial said...

I thought onanism was from "one"? You know, love of one...if not, who is it named after please?

5:34 PM  
Blogger Celestial said...

Does Christian count?

5:35 PM  
Blogger Zevatron said...

From the
OED
(and Genesis 38:9):

"Onan, son of Judah, was ordered by his father to beget children with the wife of his brother who had died childless. He did not wish to beget children who would not belong to him, so he did not complete copulation but let his semen fall on the ground, for which God punished him with death. Although Onan's sin is taken by modern biblical scholars to have been failure to fulfil the obligation of levirate marriage (see Oxf. Compan. Bible (1993) s.v.), this passage has freq. been taken in the Christian (as in the Jewish) tradition to show divine condemnation of masturbation. The earliest formation on the name appears to be German onanitisch in onanitischer Sünde (Mengering Gewissensrüge (1642) 809), followed by Onania in the title of Onania, or the Heinous Sin of Self-pollution, and All its Frightful Consequences in Both Sexes, considered, published anonymously in London c1710, and subsequently appearing in numerous editions with supplements, etc., in the course of the 18th cent. Cf. French onanisme (1760)."

Christian? Well, that's just too easy. I guess I'm looking for words where the fact that they derive from names is not entirely obvious.

5:57 PM  

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