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My sentence goes something like this:

The Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described in an 1865 paper by Johnson, Andersson and Paulsen.

It is clear by context that this particular theorem was indeed discovered by Johnson, Andersson and Paulsen, so I would like to avoid repeating their names while still clarifying who first described the theorem. Is it correct in this context to say "the Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described by its eponymous authors", or is there a better way to say what I mean?

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Then is it necessary to name them? Can you just say "...was first described in 1865."? Otherwise, "by the authors of the same names" could work, but it certainly seems lazy in formal writing. Or, "The Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was named for/by/after the authors of the 1865 paper in which it was described." – nxx Feb 5 '14 at 0:44
Eponymous describes a work in terms of its author(s), not the author(s) in terms of the work - so it'd be "the eponymous theorem", not "the eponymous authors". – MT_Head Feb 5 '14 at 1:46
@MT_Head Eponymous has senses in both directions, and that referring to the person something is named for (in this case the author) is the earlier. – Jon Hanna Feb 5 '14 at 1:56
@JonHanna Well I never. – MT_Head Feb 5 '14 at 2:10
@MT_Head since that's the earliest attested use the OED has, it seems the two senses are precisely contemporary with each other, which is curious in a word. (Curious also that with that as a source the OED gives only the one sense). – Jon Hanna Feb 5 '14 at 2:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's valid to use the term eponymous, but it just sounds needlessly wordy - like you'd written the above sentence and then tried too hard to get rid of the repetition.

An approach that often works well is to give the author's full name. I'll use a different example from a different field, because I don't know the authors you are talking of:

The Dunning-Kruger effect was first tested in a series of experiments published in 1999 by David Dunning and Justin Kruger.

The repetition is still there, but it's softened, and the reader feels like they're being filled in on the reason for the name, rather than just having the same words repeated at them.

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I love your example... by the way, my favorite alternate name for Bitcoin is "Dunning-Krugerrand". – MT_Head Feb 5 '14 at 1:42
Thank you, I like your example and I agree with you. In my case however, I am just typing a small footnote and I think repetition is better than introducing three irrelevant mathematicians like that. But it's good to now know how to use eponymous correctly. – Sid Feb 5 '14 at 11:53
If it's a footnote, why not just depend upon people being able to see the authors listed in the citation, whether it's directly visible from "The Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described in [Johnson, Andersson & Paulsen 1865]", or by checking the reference on "The Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described in [Johnson 1865]", or by putting the footnote on a mention of the theorem, and having the footnote as "First described by Johnson, Andersson and Paulsen in 1865" where the repetition is softened by being split over the page? – Jon Hanna Feb 5 '14 at 11:57

If you do insist on using "eponymous", it should be thus:

Johnson, Andersson and Paulsen first described their eponymous theorem in an 1865 paper.

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The eponymously named Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described in an 1865 paper.

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I think the word 'named' is redundant here. – Slicedpan Feb 5 '14 at 10:16

I will first give a wrong way to write to drive home a style point:

The original eponymous Johnson-Andersson-Paulsen theorem was first described in a eponymous paper written by Johnson, Andersson and Paulsen in 1865.

The style point being, there's absolutely no need to be so repetitive. I would recommend:

Johnson, Andersson, and Paulsen first described their eponymous theory in an 1865 paper.

Or something of that sort where we keep the repetition to a minimum. Now, there may be a reason why we need to repeat and then we should do so. For instance, if your readers would not likely know the theorem prior to this sentence.

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