Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Blogger Peg Herring on Names into Words

I welcome Peg Herring today as my guest blogger. Be sure to read ALL the Ps! There are prizes to be had.
Peg Herring

Thanks to Kaye for a chance to stop at her blog on my Crawl! Yesterday’s post about figurative language is at

The Post - Names Into Words

I once saw a skit where Jesus met up with a guy named Sean, who had what is sometimes called a “colorful” vocabulary. Jesus asks the man, “How would you like it if every time I hit my thumb with a hammer or got cut off on the freeway, I said, ‘Sean Jamison!’”. I don’t remember the man’s response, but it made me think about names, which belong to us but often are not under our control.

Whether the honorees like it or not, names often become words, and the fifty-cent term for those words is “eponyms”. Amelia Bloomer wore a shocking (at the time) garment similar to men’s trousers, and the press dubbed it “bloomers”. An English estate manager was shunned by his Irish tenants, and the practice became known by his name, Boycott. Charles Lynch illegally imprisoned Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, and his name became a term for illegally punishing, (later hanging) suspected violators of the law.

Recently, there has been an attempt to “clean up” Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN. The term for that is bowdlerization, from a Thomas Bowdler, who, in the 1800s, did the same for Shakespeare. I would guess that the final result with this new attempt will be the same as the original bowdlerization, but we do remember old Tom’s name and use it for such crackpot attempts.

Product names also creep into the language and are used generically, like Kleenex, Band-aid, and Coke. Efforts have been made by the holders of those brand names to substitute “tissue”, “bandage”, and “soda”, but it’s an uphill battle.

Doctors’ names are often used for diseases they discover, define, or treat. It’s a dubious honor; possibly not appreciated by descendants of men like Alzheimer, Crohn, or Hodgkins. If you are looking for such recognition, you can get a star named after you at the International Star Registry. That seems to me better than a disease, but don’t expect it to make you a household name.

Words have to come from somewhere, and names came from somewhere, too. In the Middle Ages, Europeans began associating surnames with families. They generally came from four sources: place of birth (Hamburger, Pillsbury), father’s first name (Johnson, MacGregor), occupation (Miller, Fenstermaker), or a trait associated with the person or family (Doolittle, Reid). When we use names to designate a product or an action, the word returns to whence it came, a nice circle of usage that might make the namesake proud, like “silhouette”, or should make him ashamed, like “quisling”.

The Poser: Name three mystery protagonists who have unusual names.

The Prizes-Weekly prizes (your choice of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY in e- or print format) drawn from the names of those who comment on the blogs as we go. Comment once/day, but the first commenter each day gets entered twice in Saturday’s drawing!

The Pathway: The next entry and the answers/comments to the Poser will be at

The Pitch: THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, First in The Dead Detective Mysteries, paranormal mystery. Tori Van Camp wakes in a stateroom on a cruise ship with no memory of booking a cruise, but she does have a vivid recollection of being shot in the chest. Determined to find out what happened and why, Tori enlists the help of an odd detective named Seamus. Together they embark on an investigation like nothing she’s ever experienced. Death is all around her, and unless they act quickly, two people she cares about are prime candidates for murder. Read more about this book and the author at or buy the book at

The Perpetrator: Peg Herring writes historical and contemporary mysteries. She loves everything about publishing, even editing (most days). Peg’s historical series, The Simon and Elizabeth Mysteries, debuted in 2010 to wonderful reviews. The second in the series will be available in November from Five Star.
Peg’s Blog Crawl-February, 2011
January 31-Post schedule of Blog Crawl, explain prizes, etc.
Feb. 1 Peg Herring-Why Do We Say That? Part I  
Feb. 2 Chris Verstraete-Slowing Readers—Bad Policy
Feb. 3 Melissa Bradley-He Said, She Panted  
Feb. 4 Marilyn Meredith-The Dreaded Adverb
Feb. 5 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 1
Feb 6 Weekend—
Feb. 7 Rhonda Dossett-The Ones Spell Check Won’t Catch  
Feb 8 Nancy Cohen-Metaphors
Feb. 9 Kaye George-Names Into Words
Feb 10 Lisa Haselton-Losing the Spice 
Feb 11. Chris Redding-Inventing Words 
Feb 12. Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 2
Feb.13. Lelia Taylor Syntax and Sentence Structure
Feb.14 Jenny Milchman-Why Do We Say That? Part II 
Feb.15. Pat Brown-Dialogue and What It Reveals and
Feb. 16 Debbi Mack-Portmanteau Words
Feb. 17 Peg Brantley-The Possessive Problem http://www.suspensenovelist.blogspot
Feb 18 Bo Parker-Read It Aloud
Feb 19 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 3
Feb. 20 Weekend
Feb. 21 Jeff Marks-And What About Contractions? 
Feb 22 Geraldine Evans-Idioms
Feb. 23 Maryann Miller-Eccentric Phrases 
Feb. 25 –Peg Herring Open Topic
Feb. 26 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 4
Feb. 27 Weekend
Feb. 29 Stacy Juba-Why Do We Say That? Part III

March 1-Final Drawing for Prizes from All Entries

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