I am aware of great debate over whether a name, in general, is a word in any language. For purposes of this question, let's take the negative side of this debate. For certain, I would never claim that my nom de plume of "cobaltduck" could be considered a word. Nor do I claim that something like "Jason" or "Carl" is a word.
What about a name when applied to an eponymous invention? There are many objects and ideas out there named after the inventor. Let's consider just a couple examples:
- The Ferris wheel, invented by American engineer George Washington Gale Ferris.
- The Diesel engine, invented by German engineer Rudolph Christian Karl Diesel.
- The Wankel engine, invented by German engineer Felix Heinrich Wankel.
- The Heimlich maneuver, developed by American surgeon Henry Judah Heimlich.
- And giving credit where due- inspired by a question by user Sadiq- the Schottky diode, invented by German physicist Walter H. Schottky.
Can any of ferris, diesel, wankel, heimlich, or schottky be called a word? If so, when and why?
I can see an argument for at least one definitely functioning stand-alone:
Today in health class we learned how to do the heimlich.
Look! Alice is choking. Quick, somebody give her the heimlich.
And another is a maybe:
I'm thinking of buying a pickup, and can't decide whether to get a diesel.
I need to fill this rig up with diesel. (referring to the fuel)
But another just doesn't work at all without the second part:
Did you hear about Alice? She went to the fair and got stuck on the ferris.
The others are also less certain, i.e. I don't know enough about the vernacular to know whether a motorcycle builder would ponder, "Should we put a wankel or a v-twin on this baby?" or one electrical technician would ask another, "Can you hand me that schottky over there?"
To summarize: When, if ever, is the name portion of a name-object phrase describing something and its inventor, considered a word?