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Eponymous London Shopkeepers

" found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight to appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers..." The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith,

Confirmed: Mr. Doyley (whose first name, sadly, is unknown) ran a drapery shop on the Strand "a little West of Catherine Street" during the reign of Queen Anne. By the 17th century, his name appeared in "doily-napkin", and ultimately "doily".

Confirmed: Edward Lloyd ran a popular coffeehouse on Tower Street in the late 17th century. The insurance underwriters who gathered there to conduct business later formed a consortium and named it "Lloyd's of London" in honour of this coffeehouse.

Confirmed: George "Beau" Brummell's grandfather, William Brummell, ran a lodging house on Bury Street. "Beau Brummell" can be used to describe a dandy, fop, or arrogant socialite. The adjective "Brummellian" appears in the OED2.

Confirmed: Dick Whittington, who was a London milner, left us the term "Whittington chimes".

Arguable: While not a merchant, bailiff Joseph Dun was frequently employed by 16th century London merchants to collect bad debts. By the 17th century, his name was being used as a verb meaning to collect an amount owed.

Arguable: The last proper job Cesar Ritz held before opening his own establishment was at the Hotel Savoy on the Strand. His first "shop", however, was in Paris.

Doubtful: A story goes that Davy Jones ran a 16th century London pub and was engaged in the practice of "Shanghai". His "locker" was used to transport his captives to the waiting ships. Contributor Phil adds: "...Partridge suggests that Davy Jones (and variants), meaning the spirit of the sea, appeared ca1750. He quotes Weekley's suggestion that it is a corruption of Jonah, with Davy added by Welsh sailors..."

Disqualified: Tradition has it that the phrase "mad as a hatter" first referred to a wealthy London hatter, Robert Crab, who ran a hat shop near Cambridge Circus. Afflicted by prolonged exposure to mercury, he became psychotic. "Mad as a hatter" does not contain an eponym.

Disqualified: Thomas Crapper ran a plumbing firm at 120 King's Road. Even though he may have helped popularize the "water closet", flush toilets appeared in London at least fifty years before his birth. The word "crap" comes from the Dutch "krappe" and entered the English language in the 15th century.


Patriarchs As Bottle Sizes

 Referring to the various sizes of Champagne bottles, a "Jeroboam" contains four (although some references say ten) normal bottles of Champagne. The rest are:

Rehoboam variously 6 bottles or 6 quarts
Methuselah 8 bottles
Salmanazar 12 bottles
Balthazar 16 bottles
Nebuchadnezzar 20 bottles


Lemon sole
The word "lemon" here comes from the French "limande", meaning rough skin.


Cripplegate and Crutched Friars

"Cripplegate" may have taken its name from cripples who frequented the area, but a more plausible explanation is that it comes from "Crepel", which meant "a low arch" or "a covered passageway". Tradition has it that the corruption of the name became complete when reports of miracle cures (associated with King Edmund) in the area began to circulate.

The "Crutched" in "Crutched Friars" refers to the cross (as in "crux") worn by the Friars of the Holy Cross, who had a house in the area.

Phil comments: "I have read that the name comes from the ME "crouch" meaning a cross, rather than from the Latin. The Imperial Dictonary of 1850 describes the order as "Crouched-Friars". It also includes a then extant verb "to crouch" meaning to bless or sign with the cross which seems to have existed completely independently of the sense "to bend". Similarly the "crouchback" nickname of Richard III may refer to having a cross emblazoned on his back rather than a deformity. "Cross" (from the same origin) was evidently imported by Irish monks and replaced "crouch" for some reason."


Slang Names for British Currency

A "bob" was one shilling. Although the currency unit was lost in 1971, the phrase, "that will cost you a few bob" is still used. Some of the slang for the 10s coin was transfered to 50p coin, as in "cows". Other slang terms are listed in the table below.

£1 Quid (etymology uncertain)
£3 Carpet
£5 Lady (from Godiva)
£6 Sick squid
£8 Garden
£9 Feel, Mother
£10 Tenner
£20 Score, and from this, Apple
£25 Pony
£50  Bullseye
£500 Monkey
£1,000 Grand, also Quid
£2,000 Archer
£1,000,000 Quid (yes, again)

"Dosh", "Tosh" (etymologies uncertain), and "Readies" are slang for cash.


Literary characters who became allusions!

Shakespeare's "Shylock" can be used to allude to a creditor or usurer. Also "Romeo" can refer to a love-sick adolescent.

Tellez's "Don Juan" now alludes to a suave lover. Similarly, Rowe's "Lothario" can describe someone who thinks they are an eloquent seductor or fashionable rake.

Sir Walter Scott's "Lochinvar" alludes to an eloper or long lost lover.

"Jekyll and Hyde", from Robert L. Stevenson's story, can be used as an allusion to the dark or evil side of someone's personality.

"Scrooge", created by Charles Dickens, can be used to refer to a miser or spoilsport. Also "Fagin" can be used to refer to a thief or pickpocket. To call someone "Uriah Heep" (from "David Copperfield") implies that they are a hypocrite.

"Billy Bunter", from the stories of Charles Hamilton, is used to refer to fatness or gluttony.

Eleanor Porter's "Pollyanna" describes a sentimental optimist.

"Jeeves", created by P. G. Wodehouse, is used to represent a perfect butler or servant.

The name "Scheherazade" from the Arabian Nights now alludes to any prolific story teller.

The slave girl "Topsy", created by Harriet Beecher Stowe, refers to a person or situation that evolved without noticeable involvement or control. Also "Uncle Tom".

"James Bond", from the series of novels by Ian Fleming, has been used to describe a sophisticated adventurer. Also "James Bondish".

"Rambo", the hero in David Morrell's "First Blood", now alludes to violent machismo.

A "Fauntleroy", taken from Frances Hodgson Burnett's "Little Lord Fauntleroy", describes an effeminate clothing style characterised by velvet and lace.

J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan" describes an immature adult.

"Lolita", by Vladimir Nabokov can be used to describe a precocious, sexually aware teenager.

"Svengali", the hero of George Du Maurier's novel "Trilby", refers to someone who exercises control over another.




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