Who wears it better, Cardigan or Leotard?

Thanks to Bồ’s suggestion in the previous post on word origin, Đề was inspired to write more on interesting eponyms.


This word originates from the surname of a German physician, Franz Anton Mesmer. Born in Germany in 1733, Mesmer studied medicine and practiced hypnotize to cure patients. His career was associated with the theory of Animal Magnetism, from which the hypnosis technique was derived from. The term Mesmerism was first used by his pupil to indicate his practice of hypnotizing patients. The term now no longer limits its meaning to hypnosis, but it’s more about fascinating someone or holding them spellbound. 


Also comes from the surname of another scholar from the late 17th century, Luigi Galvani, but instead of putting people into motionless state as mesmerize does, galvanize is to shock people and urge them to do carry out some action. This scientist did an experiment in which he ran an electric current through a dead frog ( I wonder where he got such idea to play with). He noticed that electricity made the frog’s legs twitch. Today, Galvanize  has nothing to do with electricity, at least not literally.


Another person that made his name into an eponym is a 18th century French acrobat. This man, whose full name was Jules Leotard, developed the art of trapeze and was credited for popularizing the flexible one-piece body-tight gym wear that fits the safety and agility requirements of the sport. 


Fashionista or not, you might have one of this in your house, a sweater with buttons in the front. This piece of clothing was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army Major General. His fame for winning in war battle resulted in the popularity of this garment that were worn by British army. The term was first used to describe the knitted sleeveless vest, but now it refers to sweater which hangs open in the front, sometimes with buttons, sometimes not.


The story behind this word also relates to a military officer. The man whose name lives on not for his victory, but for his betrayal to his own country was Vidkun Quisling. During World War 2, he collaborated with Germany and became the insider that the Nazi needed to take over Norway. A quisling is a traitor or a collaborationist who works for enemy force against his side.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s