My in-laws had just returned last week from Barcelona, where my wife’s sister lives, and at the dinner table the conversation turned to art, architecture and the like. My father-in-law, after discussing the work of Antoni Gaudi (e.g. Sagrada Familia, Park Guell), pronounced “did you know that the word ‘gaudy’ comes from his name?” Just the sort of moment that pedants like me live for. Not able to resist, I immediately challenged, and oddly enough, the adrenalin must have tripped the old Latin switch in my brain. I recalled the old term ‘gaudeamus igitur’, an old university song (the melody can be heard in Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture") which meant something like ‘let us rejoice’.
I found ‘gaudeo’, rejoice, in my latin/english, and then the reference in OED to gaudy:
[ad. L. gaudium joy. In some senses the word may represent L. gaud ‘rejoice thou’, as used in hymns or liturgies; and there may also be mixture of OF. gaudie n. of action f. gaudir to rejoice, make merry.]
It appears in both Chaucer (Knight’s Tale) and in Shakespeare ("Let’s have one other gaudy night” - Antony to Cleopatra) a number of times.
Anyhow, this got me to thinking about the number of cases in which a name has become a commonly-used word. Off the top of my head, I have maverick and quisling to describe a person, and wellington and mae west to describe objects. These are all nouns, but can anyone come up with an adjective (or a verb, for that matter), as my in-law thought he had? I don’t think that words like rubenesque or kafkaesque can be counted (and no Haigisms accepted -haha).
For verbs, the first one to leap to mind is “boycott”. ("Fisk", “bork” and “bobbitt” have not yet demonstrated their staying power, IMHO, although I think “bork” has made it into some dictionaries.) If you accept suffix-modifed forms there’s bowdlerize, galvanize, and undoubtedly many others.
OTTOMH I can’t think of any epononymous adjectives that lack an obvious adjectival suffix, such as -esque, -(i)an, etc. I’m also excluding specialized attributive uses like Wellington boots, macadam roads and Napoleon brandy.
Edit: “draconian”, though it has such a suffix, is not, I think, generally recognized as referring to a specific person and is not capitalized; it therefore comes very close to qualifying for what I think you’re asking for. I.e., its primary denotation is not simply “like Draco”.
2nd edit: Wikipedia’s list of eponyms includes “maudlin”, derived from Mary Magdalene.
3rd edit to fix apostrophe
“did you know that the word ‘gaudy’ comes from his name?”
Why are people so eager to believe this sort of thing? I’ve been making minor fixes to the wretched Wikipedia article on Alexandria (Egypt), not having the heart or the time to try a major revamp, and I discovered that the entry for the neighborhood Bulkeley (given in the Arabized form Bolkly, like all the local names, even though they’re almost all European in origin—I added the original European forms as variants, not wanting to offend any sensibilities) made the absurd statement that it was named after Paul Klee, who’d visited there briefly. I deleted it, then found someone had replaced it when I revisited. I deleted it again, leaving a stiffly worded note on the talk page, with a link to a map from 1900 (long before his visit) showing the name. Let this be a reminder to everyone not to trust etymologies you find on the internet!
Nice, but wouldn’t you say they’re in a class with “Rubenesque” or “Shavian”, despite being written without capitals? Even “draconian” seems a bit dubious to me. I think “pantaloon” might qualify, though.
To be picky, Bork (with capital) is in the OED ("To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way"); I’d say it won’t have tenure until it’s commonly lower-cased.
Let this be a reminder to everyone not to trust etymologies you find on the internet
I’d endorse this heartily, except that I doubt that anyone here needs reminding, and those who do — hoi polloi, sadly — are unlikely to see this or heed it if they do.
(But why is it so annoying? Why, when someone tells me in a pub that ‘gringo’ comes from what Mexicans said to American soldiers in green uniforms — ‘Green, go!’ — which you’d think nobody would think remotely plausible, and isn’t particularly amusing, do I have difficulty suppressing the urge to scream?)
I’ll admit that I’ve reached middle age without noticing that ‘Rubenesque’ should be ‘Rubensesque’. Now that it’s been pointed out to me, it annoys me intensely. I’m trying to get over this, though.