Science is full of examples, from Hippocrates, the Greek medic born around 460 BC, who gave his name to the Hippocratic Oath still used by doctors today, to Robert Brown, the 19th century botanist who discovered Brownian motion.
In cases where most people know something of the life or work of the person in question, their adjective often takes on a broader meaning. Although Darwinian often simply means ‘as described or discovered by Charles Darwin’, it is also used more generally to describe a fierce competitive situation (in business, for example), in which the losers will be eliminated.
Similarly, if we describe something as Freudian (from Sigmund Freud), we are often alluding to something that inadvertently reveals someone’s true thoughts, as in the phrase Freudian slip. Continue reading “Byronic, Orwellian and Darwinian: adjectives from names.”