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Word Meaning Eponym
laconic Sparing of words, made up of few words, terse. For the region of Lakonia (Latin Laconia) in southern Greece whose capital was Sparta and whose inhabitants were famous for their spartan, laconic speech. Philip of Macedon once threatened the Lakonians, "If I enter Lakonia, I will raze Sparta to the ground." The Spartans' laconic reply was, "If."
lambert A unit of illumination equal to the brightness of a perfectly diffusing surface that reflects one lumen per square centimeter. Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777), a German mathematician who first proved that pi (the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter) is an irrational number.
landau A four-wheeled convertible carriage with a top that may be let down or folded back or a sedan with a short convertible back. Landau, Germany, where the first landaus were made.
langley A measure of radiation equal to one gram calorie per square centimeter of irradiated surface. Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906), an American astronomer, physicist, inventor of the bolometer and a pioneer in aviation.
leotard Tights worn for dancing. Jules Léotard (circa 1839-1870), French acrobatic performer who inspired the 1867 song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze".
lesbian A female homosexual. The island of Lesbos, where Sappho, a Greek woman poet presumed to be homosexual, lived from 612 BC to 570 BC.
Levis Tight-fitting blue jeans made by the now defunct Levi Strauss & Co. Levi Strauss (1830-1902), a Bavarian immigrant and clothing merchant, who bought the patent for riveting denim clothes to make the seams stronger from the inventor, Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, and sold them in San Francisco to prospectors during the Gold Rush.
lewisite An oily, colorless to violet-brown liquid used in highly toxic gas weapons during World War I. Winford Lee Lewis (1878-1943), American chemist.
lobelia A plant bearing variously colored flowers with a bilabiate (two-lipped) corolla. Matthias de Lobel (1538-1616), a Flemish physician to William the Silent, Prince of Orange, before moving to England and becoming James I's physician and botanist.
loganberry 1. A red-fruited trailing bramble native from Oregon to Baja California. 2. A hybrid of the blackberry and raspberry. James Harvey Logan (1841-1928), an American judge from Santa Cruz, California who crossed plants of the Aughinbaugh blackberry and Red Antwerp raspberry to create the second loganberry.
lucullan Luxurious, opulent, extravagant Lucius Licinius Lucullus (118-56 BC), Roman general and consul known more for the luxury of his retirement than his service.
luddite An opponent of progress. Ned Ludd, an English laborer who was supposed to have destroyed weaving machinery around 1779 after being replaced by it.
lynch To hang someone in a mob frenzy without a trial. William Lynch, the author of "Lynch's Law", an agreement with the Virginia General Assembly in 1782 that allowed Lynch to capture and punish criminals in Pittsylvania County without trial due to the lack of courts in that county.
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