Some people reach that ultimate accolade of having something named after them and making it into the dictionary. Some you would have heard of; Rudolf Diesel managed to get a type of engine and a fuel named after him. The opera singer Dame Nellie Melba had a dessert and a type of toast named in her honour and the Douglas Fir is named after the Scottish botanist, David Douglas.

Lots of people have managed to get places on the planet named after them, Everest, Hudson Bay and Bolivia are three examples, but some of the stranger eponyms that appear in here, mesmerise, Apgar, dunce and praline are some of the few covered in this fascinating little book. There are the weird and wonderful too, a dish that has cultured almost countless numbers of cells was developed and named after the Julius R. Petri, a germ bacteriologist, the greengage and boysenberry are named after people too and the Scoville will blow your mind.

I had read two of her previous books, The Book Lovers’ Miscellany and A Library Miscellany, so was really looking forward to this one. Whilst this isn’t about books, it is about the English language, which is another of my favourite things to read about. There are 150 different eponyms and it is a perfect little book for those who also have a passion for words and their origins. The research is meticulous and because of that, the book is full of tiny details and anecdotes that make it an entertaining read. If there was one tiny flaw, I would have liked more of it to read.

Paul Cheney 4/3

The Real McCoy and 149 Other Eponyms by Claire Cock-Starkey
The Bodleian Library 9781851244980 hbk Oct 2018