vintage, nostalgia and memories


April 1, 2017

13 Things You Didn't Know Were Named After People

Have you ever wondered where names of things or words we regularly use came from? There are so many products and words we use on a regular basis that we don’t even realize were named after a real person. Here are 13 things you had no idea were named after people (some of them actually did not even invent them):

1. Bowler Hat


In 1849, the bowler hat (a.k.a. derby hat) was created by Thomas and William Bowler. This was so the high top hats of the Earl of Derby’s gamekeepers would not be hit by branches while on horseback. This was also said to be a compromise between social classes’ top hat and flat cap. Famous owners include: Hardy and Laurel, as well as Dick Van Dyke (inherited Stan Laurel’s bowler hat in 1965).


2. Mesmerize


During the 18th Century in Vienna, Dr. Franz Mesmer became controversial because of his animal magnetism (‘hypnosis’) healing to his patients. He had to move to Paris for this reason. However, by the king’s order, he was investigated by a scientific task force including Ben Franklin and Joseph Guillotin, the inventor of guillotine. Again condemned, he left Paris but continued his practice until his death in 1815.


3. Maverick


In the 19th Century, Samuel Agustus Maverick did not want to brand his cattle. He coined the term “maverick” for anyone who is unbranded and roams free. Historians thought this was a ploy so he could own any unbranded calf in the area.


4. Bakelite


Can you imagine makeup cases, telephones, tool handles, radios and crib toys to be made of other materials? This unique early plastic was introduced to us in the 1930s, but was actually invented as early as 1907 by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian chemist in the U.S.


5. Macadamia Nut


Though named after John Macadam, macadamia nuts were discovered in Australia in 1828 by an English explorer, Allan Cunningham. Moreover, it was given the name and scientific attributes by Ferdinand Mueller, a fellow scholar and personal friend of Macadam.


6. Nachos


This American junk food routinely eaten since the 1960s originated way back 1943. Since he cannot find his chef, Ignacio Anaya (manager of the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico) had to immediately come up with something to offer to his tourist diners. He prepared his “nachos especial” using chips with cheese topped with tapas and jalapeƱos.


7. Diesel


Rudolf Diesel invented a diesel engine that could travel more efficiently than any other engines in the 1890s. These universal diesel engine was commonly used in military and industries. Diesel died while sailing to Germany in 1913. He either jumped or was thrown overboard and his body was recovered after 10 days. Some people believed that he prevented himself from signing a contract of diesel engines with the Germans, so they won’t take advantage. It is still debatable up to this day if it was a murder or a suicide.


8. Mason Jars


The popular jars that we all love is patented by John Landis Mason in 1858. These jars change the way we eat food. We can use them for preserving our summer harvest and even drink tea or coffee from them. Without the Mason jar, our lives would surely not be the same.


9. Gerrymandering


The outlined shape of a dragon in the form of a map pertains to a cartoon in the Boston Gazette in 1812. This awkward location that creates unusual shapes is suitable for voters in certain districts for political advancement. The term ‘Gerrymandering’ was derived from Gerry, Elbridge as their governor of Massachusetts at that time and salamander from an outline of a newly-defined district map.


10. Saxophone


Adolphe Sax was a luckless man. He reportedly fell down from a flight of stairs, swallowed a needle, and fell into an oven when he was a child. He invented the saxophone in 1840, unfortunately, he was unsuccessful with the instrument. Luckily, a century later, the sax jammed on with the jazz musicians.


11. Nicotine


This New World plant famous all over the world was named after Jean Nicot de Villemain, a French ambassador who learned about tobacco on his trip Portugal. When he went home, he brought snuff, leaves and seed with him and presented it to the royal court of France in the 1560s. The plant became a hit and so Jean Nicot was commemorated by having the plant named after him – nicotine. Only in succeeding centuries did nicotine was come to mean chemical inside the tobacco plant.


12. Bloomers


These was named after Amelia Bloomer, a women’s rights supporter. She did not make the garments but her efforts embodied her appearance of women, which makes the name ‘Bloomers’ a highly charged statement that represents struggle to such movement.


13. Ferris Wheel


The ferries wheel was America’s answer to Paris’ Eiffel Tower. It debuted during the 1893 Columbia Exposition and, unsurprisingly, wowed the crowds. It was made by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. who wanted a spectacular display that until now we are still enjoying.


(via Dusty Old Thing)

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