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I am looking for a term meaning "a name used as an embodiment of a concept".

For example, Quisling, which originally referred to a specific person, has taken on the meaning of "traitor." A Mary Sue is a flawless self insert. A Casanova or Don Juan is an overabundant lover. In TV tropes speak, a Scrappy is a generally loathed character, but the term itself came from Scrappy Doo. (These are all my approximations of the definitions, obviously.)

Is there a name for this type of word? I don't think it's quite metonomy or synecdoche. However, I'm not sure.

Thanks!

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  • Another example: Captain William Lynch. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 19:57
  • Well, it probably started out as a metaphor.
    – jxh
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 20:22
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    Eponym. It can be either the name of the person, or the name of the thing named for the person. And to make things even more confusing, we have a word for when you are only pretending the name of the thing came from a person - eponymy.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 22:14
  • @PhilSweet +1. Add a suitable link, and I'd be happy to upvote that as an answer as well.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 1:45

2 Answers 2

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Eponym
It can be either the name of the person, or the name of the thing named for the person. And to make things even more confusing, we have a word for when you are only pretending the name of the thing came from a person - eponymy.

1 : one for whom or which something is or is believed to be named
2 : a name (as of a drug or a disease) based on or derived from an eponym

"Eponym." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.

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One possibility might be personification (definitions 2 or 4 at the link). It is representing a quality or characteristic–or combination thereof–as a person.

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