I often hear people say, for example:

Uh oh.. he's done a Bob

(Bob being the name of a person who does such acts, the act being anything)

Is there a word for that? What would you call that?

  • 10
    It's called 'a serious public relations problem'
    – rabbit
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:56
  • 4
    Wait. Is the act that Bob does, by chance, bobbing? Jul 16, 2015 at 15:26
  • 8
    It's called a "ᔕᖺᘎᕊ".
    – pilcrow
    Jul 16, 2015 at 17:16
  • 1
    Verbing. Citation: gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2013/01/28 Edit: whoops, misread the question
    – Kevin
    Jul 16, 2015 at 17:20
  • 1
    "Stop being a Bob" isn't using your name to describe an act, it's using your name to describe someone who does things Bob would do. As opposed to "Uh oh, he's done a Bob" which would be describing an act. Jul 17, 2015 at 12:04

6 Answers 6


I'm not aware of a word or phrase that precisely describes this device. It would be quite fun if there is one!

In any case, it is one example of employing a metaphor.

: a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar

: an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else


  • 5
    Ya know, it is a metaphorical usage, AND if combined with the eponymous answers e.g., eponymous metaphor, I think it would precisely meet the OP's needs.
    – user98990
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:19
  • I'm going to accept this one because I agree with @LittleEva - this seems the best to me :) Jul 16, 2015 at 15:41

Call it "eponymous," describing the giving of someone's name to something. Originally, the adjective described the person who's name is used, but it is now used to also describe the thing so named. Go here.

  • 5
    If I were in the habit of telling people to stop being a Bob, I might introduce the Bob that inspired the term as the eponymous Bob. But I don't think you can invert that relationship, and call "being a Bob" an eponymous insult. That said, eponymous is not a word I use often. Do you know of a time when eponymous has been used that way? Jul 16, 2015 at 15:16
  • 1
    GIYF. Try looking for "eponymous album," which has become a term for "self-titled," applying the word to the thing named and the person for whom it was named.
    – deadrat
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:21
  • Thanks for the example. Eponymous is exactly the right term. This should be the accepted answer. Jul 16, 2015 at 16:00

Eponym: a word based on or derived from a person's name
Eg: Bob's your uncle

  • 1
    +1 I don't think it quite fits the OP's situation - eponym seems to be related to, e.g. Dickensian meaning "like from a Dickens' novel" than the OP's situation of "to pull a Homer". I think it's a very similar meaning though. Also, you'd be better with a link to a definition of eponym than one defining Bob's your uncle.
    – AndyT
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:27
  • 4
    You totally Britta'd this answer. Jul 16, 2015 at 18:32
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit I've gone Full Boyle for you after that comment.
    – user53089
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:41
  • @LegoStormtroopr: Heh, never seen it but lol anyway Jul 17, 2015 at 9:42

It sounds like a specific form of personification, one definition being

Artistic representation of an abstract quality or idea as a person.

American Heritage Dictionary

The term incarnation also might apply

a person or thing that typifies or represents some quality, idea, etc ⇒ the weasel is the incarnation of ferocity


  • +1, but I'm going to accept Jim's answer because it seems most fitting to me. Thanks anyways! Jul 16, 2015 at 15:42
  • I'm more inclined to call this "eponymous personification" than "eponymous metaphor". There is a similar phenomenon also: ordinal linguistic personification
    – ermanen
    Jul 16, 2015 at 15:59

Maybe something like:

  • count nounification of a name
  • name metonymy
  • eponymic metonymy
  • or, as a previous poster suggested, eponymous or eponymic metaphor

The problem with eponym simpliciter is, in my opinion, that it connotes the use has been lexicalized or standardized to some extent.

Interestingly enough, in contemporary philosophy of language and syntax, such examples as you gave involving the use of a name as a count noun rather than a proper noun have led many syntacticians to postulate that names are marked in the mental lexicon as count nouns and that when they occur in positions apparently lacking determiners or other modifiers (i.e. their usual positions), such elements are actually there covertly. I am thinking of the work of Ora Matushansky and Delia Fara.

  • I think a metonymy fits perfectly well the concept: you are amalgaming a behavior to an object (a person). Name metonymy or eponymic metonymy seems very good ways to describe that.
    – gaborous
    Jul 16, 2015 at 16:55

Based on the other answers, I'd say that when someone uses your name to describe an act, they are eponymizing the act with your name.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post.
    – deadrat
    Jul 17, 2015 at 20:52
  • @deadrat: Rephrased to sound more like an answer.
    – einpoklum
    Jul 17, 2015 at 21:04

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