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A friend of mine is keen on taking the glory (or adverse publicity!) when something goes wrong on a job he's working on and he likes to give it his name, e.g., "this is turning into a right Simpson of a job […]."

So I suppose my question is two fold:

  • What do you call it when somebody does this?
  • What is the grammatical description for the name when used in this context?
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In other words, the question is about using a proper name instead of an adjective, as saying "you are an Alfred," instead of "you are an ingenuous." (The example is abstract; nobody says "Alfred" to mean an ingenous person.) –  kiamlaluno Jun 29 '11 at 16:45
    
This is a Charlie Brown of a business –  Thursagen Jun 29 '11 at 22:39
    
Several Mickey Mouse banks were based in Iceland. –  FumbleFingers Jan 6 '12 at 1:51

1 Answer 1

The term for this concept is eponym. From TheFreeDictionary:

ep·o·nym (p-nm) n.
1. A word or name derived from the name of a person. The words atlas, bowdlerize, and Turing machine are eponyms.
2. A person whose name is or is thought to be the source of the name of something.

I don't know if there's a verb that describes this process. Probably "making an eponym" would be the closest.

Edit: @JSBangs deftly suggests eponymize in the comments below, and that sounds good to me.

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By analogy with other words formed with -nym, the verb should probably be eponymize. –  JSBձոգչ Jun 29 '11 at 14:42
    
@JSBangs: Good thought. –  Robusto Jun 29 '11 at 14:43
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Possibly. He's not directly 'naming' anything though, it's more of a phrase...he's saying something like "doing a Lord Lucan" to describe disappearing. –  Michelle Jun 29 '11 at 14:50
    
There's a whopping big list of 'em over at Wikipedia. –  Hugo Nov 1 '11 at 20:13
    
Here are at least a couple of dozen instances of eponymised, though I must admit several suggest confusion with epitomised –  FumbleFingers Jan 6 '12 at 1:47

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