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Are there other literary examples where-in a character or subject eventually morphed into descriptive verb/genre?

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As an open-ended list question, this has the feel of something that ought to be community wiki. – user1579 Mar 8 '11 at 14:33
Very strange question to put a bounty on... how can you fairly give a single bounty when you are asking for many answers? Or should we take the question literally, and the first person to say "YES" gets it? :P – tenfour Mar 8 '11 at 14:37
Agree, should be community-wiki. – Robusto Mar 8 '11 at 15:11
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You're looking for cases in which "a character or subject eventually morphed into descriptive verb/genre". Other answerers have assumed you mean just a fictional character (and not a subject, by which, to be honest, I don't know what you mean), and I'll do the same. They've also not restricted to descriptive verbs and genres, suggesting milquetoast and quixotic, so I, too, won't so restrict.

Some they haven't mentioned are Achillean, aphrodisiac, argonaut, bacchanalia, Mickey Mouse, Falstaffian, Ichabod, Moses basket, Oedipus complex, oedipal, Electra complex, Timonism, and sword of Damocles.

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We seem to be talking about eponymous terms derived from fictional characters? Four of the most famous of those would have to be quixotic, faustian, gargantuan, and holmesian. Another may be chauvinism, but it's unclear whether Nicolas Chauvin was a real person.

Evidently pecksniffian had some currency at some point, but seems to have declined in popularity. Lamentably similar is panglossian.

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John Curtis Holmes? How did he die - he overcame himself? – user5531 Mar 3 '11 at 18:18
@ArthurRex: Sherlock Holmes. – chaos Mar 3 '11 at 18:19

"Spoonerism" - after the Rev. Spooner, who reputedly continually interchanged the first letters/sounds of words. "Today we'll learn how to build a turdy stable" - (a Sturdy Table).

Well, if we're limiting ourselves to fictitious persons (not that I see that in the question), I suppose "Bushism" is out. Too bad.

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Rev. Spooner was a real person. – chaos Mar 4 '11 at 5:46

One of my favorites is milquetoast, describing a timid, submissive person. It comes from the name of a cartoon character, Caspar Milquetoast, created by H. T. Webster in 1924.

There's also Faustian, to describe a bargain in which one trades their moral integrity for material gains.

Pandemonium came from Paradise Lost. We now associate it with mayhem and discord. Milton conceived of it as the name of the place where demons live.

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I believe mondegreen may be another example of a term derived from a fictional character. The caveat is that it's not derived from an actual fictional character, but instead from a character by the name of Lady Mondegreen that Sylvia Wright thought was in a poem due to the mishearing of the line "laid him on the green".

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I think the American version of 'malapropisms' is 'Archie Bunkerisms'.

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"Sati" was the name of a Hindu goddess, which turned into a term for a widow killing herself at her husband's funeral pyre.

If you have time to waste, TV Tropes' neologism page would have an example of works of literature creating new terms. It'd list not just neologisms based on character names, but other neologisms such as "thought police", however.

Edit: Not a single example - people haven't spent enough time on the web site!

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When referring to any imagery that is absurd, bizarre, impossible to construct, or self-referential, I like the home-grown term Esheresque (after M. C. Escher).

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Shouldn’t that be Escheresque, with a c? – tchrist Mar 17 '13 at 16:19

Don't forget Jeremiad or picaresque (from Picarillo de Tormes).

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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 17 '13 at 16:01

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