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Word Meaning Eponym
gal A measurement of acceleration equal to one centimeter per second per second. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an Italian scientist who invented the telescope and made several discoveries that led to a theory of gravity.
galenical Made of herbal or vegetable matter; a herbal medicinal preparation. Claudius Galenus; (129-216 BCE) of Pergamum, a prominent ancient Greek scientist and physician to 5 Roman emperors, whose theories dominated medical science for over 1300 years.
galvanize, galvanise 1. To charge with electric current. 2. To coat iron or steel with zinc by charging it with electricity. 3. To arouse a crowd or group to concerted action. Luigi Galvani (1739-1798), an Italian physiologist noted for his discovery that the muscles in a frog's legs contracted in an electric field.
gamp A large, baggy umbrella. After the umbrella of Mrs. Sarah Gamp, a character in the novel Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.
gardenia A shrub, native to China, that has glossy evergreen leaves and large, white, very fragrant flowers. Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a minor botanist born in Scotland but who spent most of his life in Charleston, South Carolina.
gargantuan Huge, enormous, gigantic. François Rabelais (1483-1553), French author of satirical attacks on medieval scholasticism and superstition, especially Pantagruel (1532) and Gargantua (1534).
garibaldi A loose high-necked blouse with long sleeves; styled after the red flannel shirts worn by Garibaldi's soldiers. Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), an Italian patriot and soldier of the Risorgimento who led many of the military campaigns that brought about the formation of a unified Italy.
gat [Criminal argot] A pistol, short for Gatling gun, a gun with several barrels arranged in a circle that could shoot many rounds at one loading. Richard Jordan Gatling (1818-1903), American inventor from North Carolina.
gauss A unit of magnetic flux density equal to 1 maxwell per square centimeter. Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), a German mathematician and scientist who contributed significantly to number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, magnetism, astronomy, and optics.
gentian A European plant with brightly colored flowers or the drink made from its roots. According to the Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder, named for Gentius, King of Illyria (180-168 BCE), who first discovered is restorative properties.
georgette A gauzy, silk-like material with a crêpe surface. Madame Georgette de la Plante, late 19th century French fashion designer (originally a trademark).
Georgia A southeastern US state just north of Florida. King George II of England (1683-1760).
Georgian Of or resembling the style of architecture characteristic of the reigns of the first four Georges in British history. Kings George I to George IV of England (1714-1830).
gerrymander To create a political voting district so as to include as many members of the majority party as possible. Created by American artist Gilbert Stuart after Massachusetts governer Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), American politician who drew up voting districts to give his party an advantage.
gilbert An electromagnetic unit of magnetomotive force. William Gilbert (1544-1603), English physician and scientist who first studied the properties of magnetic iron ore and invented the term 'electricity'.
Geronimo! An interjection of exultation uttered on the brink of a dangerous or courageous action. Gerónimo is the Spanish form Jerome given by European settlers to the Chiricahua Apache leader, Goyathlay (1829-1909) "the one who yawns", a Native American who resisted forced removal of his people to reservations.
Gladstone wine, bag, carriage 1. A cheap French wine. 2. A suitcase with a rigid frame and flexible sides. 3. A roomy pleasure carriage. William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), Four-times Liberal prime minister of Great Britain, and a dominant political figureof the Victorian era; a passionate supporter of home rule for Ireland.
gradgrind A cold-minded person interested only in facts; a bean-counter. Thomas Gradgrind, character in the novel Hard Times (1854) by Charles Dickens.
graham bread/cracker/flour Unbolted wheaten flour, and bread or biscuit prepared from this. Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), an American dietary reformer.
gray A measure of ionizing radiation equal to one joule per kilogram. Louis Harold Gray (1905-1965), a British radiobiologist.
grangerize To illustrate a text with pictures from other books. James Granger (1723-76), a British writer and clergyman, who published in 1769 a Biographical History of England with blank leaves for illustrations. The filling up of a 'Granger' became so popular that other books were published similarly.
greengage A sweet greenish-yellow variety of plum. A compound of green + gage after Sir William Gage (1777-1864), English botanist.
grog, groggy Rum or other liquor diluted with water. Short for grogram, after Sir Edward Vernon (1684-1757), British admiral known as 'Old Groggy' for wearing a grogram cloak. Later the word was clipped and the meaning transferred to the diluted drink he served his sailors.
guillemot A seabird. Guillemot, affectionate form of Guillaume, the French version of the English name William though no particular William seems involved in this naming.
guillotine A French device for neatly slicing the heads off people. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (1738-1814, the French physician (!) who invented it.
guppy A small fresh-water fish popular in fish bowls. R. J. Lechmere Guppy (1836-1916), a Trinidadian clergyman who supplied the first specimens to the British Museum.
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