James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1863), who became the seventh Earl of Cardigan upon his father’s death, and for whom the cardigan sweater was named because he was frequently seen wearing that collarless sweater with buttons down the front, was the sole heir to a fortune and a famous English name. Brudenell was vain and overbearing, unfit for any profession but the military because of his uncontrollable temper. He therefore purchased for £40,000 a lieutenant colonelcy in the 11th Light Dragoons.
Cardigan was a foolish and harsh officer, subject to unreasonable fits of rage. He was such a strict disciplinarian that he imposed rules for all kinds of conduct and, martinet that he was, demanded rigid field drills. He often punished his soldiers with imprisonment and once had a soldier
flogged in front of the soldier’s regiment. In his first two years as a commissioned officer, he made 700 arrests and held 105 courts-martial.
He was, as one might imagine, thoroughly despised by his troops and the English people. He had to avoid stones thrown at him when he attended theater in London and needed police protection just to walk on the streets. He was hissed wherever he went.
Cardigan’s life in 1854 took a new turn, and a disastrous one. The Crimean War erupted, and Cardigan immediately applied to serve under Lord Raglan, the commander in chief. Because of his prestigious name, Cardigan was appointed major-general. He was unable to function in this high position not only because he had no previous active military field service, but also because he had an extreme dislike for his superior officer, Lord Lucan, who happened to be his brother-in-law.
Cardigan made extravagant arrangements for his post, which included making the soldiers’ uniforms more attractive and having a renowned cutler sharpen the brigade’s swords. But when the brigade sailed for Scutari, Cardigan did not sail with it. Instead he went to Paris to pay a social call on Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie.
Cardigan did little to keep his men in fighting condition. He was wrapped up in his hatred of Lord Lucan. His spirits, however, took a turn for the better when his yacht, the Dryad, arrived in Balaclava, a seaport on the Crimean Peninsula, with his French cook on board. Understandably an officer living on an elegant yacht while his men slept in mud and ate army chow would upset the most hardened soldier. This it did. The men were enraged.
Historians have agreed that Cardigan was bumble-headed and not militarily equipped to be a commander. On October 25, 1854, the Battle of Balaclava began. In the middle of the battle, Lord Lucan issued an imprecise order: «Attack anything and everything that shall come within reach of you». Cardigan was not sure what to do. Then down came Lord Raglan’s directive to send the Light Brigade through the length of the valley, an order that superseded Lucan’s.
Cardigan, who was never accused of cowardice (in fact he had great personal courage), with sword flashing and in his brilliant cherry and royal blue uniform, led his troops in that famous charge. Cardigan himself was unscathed, although he left two-thirds of his cavalry dead in the battlefield.
Cardigan’s tragic assignment can be laid at the doorstep of military incompetence and faulty communication. The brave soldiers under his command marched ahead unflinchingly, as Lord Alfred Tennyson so poignantly relates in his famous elegy «The Charge of the Light Brigade».
Forward, the light Brigade!
Was there a man dismayed? ... Someone had blundered
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die ...
Into the jaws of death,
Into the mouth of hell,
Rode the Six Hundred.


Some people believe that the word cant is eponymous for Andrew Cant (1590-1663), a Presbyterian minister in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Reverend’s speech was hard to understand because of the dialect he used. The Spectator observed in 1711 that he talked «in the pulpit in such a dialect that it’s said he was understood by none but his own congregation, and not by all of them».
Cant was a staunch supporter of the Royalist cause. Once when he spoke before a group of officers dedicated to Cromwell, the officers advanced with swords drawn, whereupon the intrepid minister opened his breast and said, «Here is the man who uttered those sentiments», urging them to strike him if they dared. Though he seemed to be a zealous leader of the Scottish Covenanters, supporting the reformation of religion, he was known as a bigot and a hypocrite. Cant and his brother believed in persecuting religious opponents ferociously while praying at the same time.
The name has stuck for all ravings of this kind in the name of religion. The term has also come to be applied to the whining speech of beggars, who were known as the canting crew. Cant has also become equated with jargon, which today means the special vocabulary shared by members of a trade or profession.


Everyone likes candy. It’s hard to believe that a person would not enjoy a piece of chocolate after a meal. Candy is a food that supplies quick energy. Admiral Byrd took about a hundred pounds per man with the exploring party to the South Pole. During World War II, soldiers were given small amounts of candy in their field rations.
But how candy came to be an important food among the people of the world is in dispute. The children of Israel ate manna, a wafer with honey, during their forty years of wandering. Ancient Egyptians and Romans ate sweets after large banquets. According to some authorities, a Venetian, in 1470, learned how to refine sugar imported from the Orient. The use of this sugar for making expensive sweets was the beginning of the candy industry. Apothecaries in England coated their pills with this sugar, and, as time went on, their shops became the forerunner of the modern candy store.
Authors of eponymous stories attribute the founding of the candy industry to another source. Prince Charles Phillipe de Conde, grand- nephew of Louis XIII, King of France, during the late 1600s loved sugary treats. His passionate fondness for sweets directed his toddling steps to
the royal kitchen for such confections. When the royal chef realized that the Prince was not eating healthful foods and that his health could be damaged, he hit on a brilliant idea of glazing meat, vegetables, and fruit with sugar. The chef’s idea worked. The King one day sampled the glazed food, smacked his lips and pronounced it delicious, and ordered that this sweet coating be named for the youngest member of the Conde family. Later, as the public came to eat this glazed food without the filling, just the coatings of the Prince’s sweet treats, it adopted the name candy.
Despite the many stories concerning the naming of this confection, word sleuths say that the word candy has come from Sanskrit Kharidakah.


A Calamity Jane is a woman who constantly complains of her troubles or one who brings trouble with her. Martha Jane Canary (1852-1903) was born in Princeton, New Jersey. Her parents moved to Virginia, where they separated and left their daughter to drift on her own. That she drifted is apparent from the many places where she spent time, usually dressed like a man and with a gun by her side. Eventually she found herself in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where she spent the rest of her years.
Many unverifiable stories have been circulated about her. For example, it is claimed that she was a prostitute in Kansas, that Wild Bill Hickock was her lover, and that she acted as a scout for General Custer. That she acted like a man, befitting her attire, has been attested. She was a bullwacker and an Indian fighter.
Calamity Jane was a superior marksman with both rifle and revolver. She was dubbed with her lugubrious name when she warned that anyone who offended her would be inviting «calamity». Some reference books refer to her surname as Burke, the name of one of her husbands. But then again, she had twelve of them. Her unusual marksmanship and her many forays into the nuptial field, however, could not save her from financial disaster. Although her nickname enriched the English language, financial richness did not accompany her to her end.
William Morris reported that an admirer of Calamity Jane paid her the ultimate frontiersman’s tribute: «She’d look like hell in a halo».


This great soldier and statesman is responsible for many words in English and many expressions that have become commonplace. Caesar (100-44 B.C.) was named Gaius Julius at birth. He later assumed the cognomen Caesar, which became synonymous with «emperor», a title with the connotation of «leader» that spread in usage to other lands. It was adopted by Ivan the Terrible in 1547 in the form czar. The German emperor also called himself caesar but spelled it Kaiser. Caeser's adopted son, who succeeded him as ruler, took the name Augustus Caesar. There were, including Julius, twelve Caesars.
Caesar, a punster might say, although not historically correct, became important at birth. A new method of giving birth was named after him. Rather than being born through the birth canal, Caesar was born when the walls of his mother’s womb were cut, a procedure that has ever since been called a caesarian section.
Young Julius became prominent in Roman politics. Following the cursus honorum (rungs of the political ladder), he reached the pinnacle when named consul in the year 59 B.C. Caesar then turned to military affairs, conquering Gaul in numerous campaigns from 58 to 50. In 49 the Senate ordered him to disband his army; instead he crossed the Rubicon River into Italy, thus initiating the Roman Civil War (49-45). It was at this time he declared «Afez iacta est» (the die is cast). At war’s end he acquired the title dictator, but many in Rome opposed him. On March 15, 44 B.C. (the Ides of March), he was assassinated in the senate house (known as the Curia), falling at the base of the statue of Pompey, where he uttered those immortal words, «Et tu, Brute?» first recorded by the Roman historian Suetonius (69-122) in The Lives of the Caesars, and borrowed later by Shakespeare. Shakespeare and other Elizabethan writers were largely responsible for the impression that Caesar was murdered in the Capitol.
The expression «Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion» followed the unveiling of a certain Clodius, a man who dressed in female garb and attended an affair for women. Caesar’s second wife, Pompeia, was the hostess, and although Caesar didn’t think his wife was guilty of infidelity, he nonetheless divorced her. Though the affair has given us the basis for the foregoing expression, no one knows what Caesar actually said.
Possibly the best-known of his expressions was the terse message he sent to Rome after his defeat of Pharnaces at Zela in 47 B.C.: «Veni, vidi, vici» («I came, I saw, I conquered»).
Many places have been named for the great emperor, particularly Caesaria, a seaport in Israel dating back to ancient times.
Caesar salad was not named for the Roman statesman. It was the creation, in 1924, of Italian-American chef Caesar Cardini. Chef Cardini operated restaurants in Tijuana.


Technically, this essay does not belong in the book because the subject does not consist of a proper noun used as an ordinary word. The proper noun is Burnside; the ordinary word, sideburns. Clearly sideburns is not a derivative. Let’s clarify the mixup.
Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881) went from being an apprentice tailor in Liberty, Indiana, to a Union general and ultimately commander of the Army of the Potomac. He was a dreamer of bizarre schemes to win the Civil War.
No one would disagree that Burnside looked the part of a general, what with his striking figure, his bushy side whiskers, and smooth chin. His greatest pleasure was to lead a parade and maneuver his Rhode Island volunteers, for he was always warmly applauded. Astride a horse, and with whiskers flowing and the bands playing, he was the dashing general that people expected to see. This was the spectacle of Burnside at his best.
Militarily, Burnside was a different kind of spectacle. At the battle of Fredericksburg, Burnside instigated a surprise strike by crossing the river. More than 100,000 Union soldiers were killed. This debacle was followed by others, including a plan to tunnel under the enemy lines. Kindhearted historians report simply that Burnside had his ups and downs. Abraham Lincoln said that he was the only man he knew who could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Burnside was bumble-headed and undoubtedly the least distinguished general in the Union Army. He committed so many military errors that the war would have been lost had he not been replaced before resigning his commission.
But Burnside lived on, not because of his surname but because he had cultivated side whiskers, a luxuriant growth of muttonchop whiskers called burnsides. Men, particularly young men, liked the look. Burnsides became a popular fad. However, because of a semantic shift the name for side whiskers was sensibly turned around to sideburns, a logical generic term because such whiskers grow on the sides of the face. The continuation of hair down the side of a man’s face is still called sideburns, making Burnside’s name, anagrammatically speaking, one of the best eponymous words.
Being bumble-headed doesn’t prevent a person from rising to high office. Burnside, with his winning personality and imposing presence, was
elected governor of Rhode Island three times and then served as a United States senator for two terms. The people of Rhode Island were more compassionate than Burnside’s first wife-to-be. When the minister asked whether she would take this man as her husband, she took a quick look at him, shrieked a resounding «No», and ran out of the church.


Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-1899) was a professor of chemistry at the University of Heidelberg for thirty-seven years. He is credited with having invented the Bunsen burner, but other scientists helped in its design. Together with Gustave Kirchhoff, Bunsen also developed the spectroscope, which enables scientists to engage in spectrum analysis. Utilizing spectrum analysis, these men discovered the chemical elements cesium and rubidium. Bunsen in addition invented the calorimeter and the car-bon-zinc electric cell, which is called a Bunsen cell.
The Bunsen burner, from a design by Michael Faraday, has been the burner in science laboratories ever since its invention. It is a gas burner consisting of a metal tube on a stand and a long rubber hose that connects the metal tube to a gas jet. Two openings at the bottom of the tube control the amount of air that mixes with the gas before burning so that it produces a flame without smoke. This principle has been applied to the common gas stove.
Bunsen has been further honored by having a nickel monoxide named for him — bunsenite.


It is hard to believe that a person could put so much into one life as Buffalo Bill did. William Frederick Cody (1846-1917) was born in Scott County, Iowa, and orphaned when eleven years old. His first job was in Kansas as a mounted messenger, and before he was twenty he excelled as a wrangler, hunter, plainsman, and Indian fighter. After serving in the Civil War, he worked for the U.S. Army as a civilian scout and messenger. For the next two years he hunted buffalo for the Union Pacific Railroad; he reportedly slew 42,800 head.
No one knows for certain how he came to be dubbed Buffalo Bill, but after being engaged in an eight-hour shooting match with another scout, he was regarded as the champion buffalo killer.
Cody was involved in sixteen Indian fights, including the scalping of the Cheyenne warrior Yellow Hair, all done at the behest of the U.S. Hfth Cavalry, which was assigned the task of wiping out Indian resistance to the coming of the white man.
Cody organized his first Wild West exhibition in 1883. It was a spectacular show with much shooting and riding by cowboys. Annie Oakley, the champion marksman, became a highlight. And Sitting Bull, the American Dakota Indian leader, was an outstanding attraction. But as happens to many celebrities who were once legends in the entertainment field, Buffalo Bill developed mounting financial problems that reduced him to poverty level. Gone were his glorious shooting days. Gone were Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull. And gone was the life Buffalo Bill had known. Bill Cody, alias Buffalo Bill, died in relative obscurity.


Buddha was the title given to a young man named Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Buddha was born about 563 B.C. at Kapilavastu, a town in northern India; when he grew to manhood, he developed a great desire to help his people and to save them from mental and physical problems. To this end, he gave up his palace and his inheritance to search for the truth and to bring peace to India. After seven years of searching, the truth came to his mind as he sat under a sacred fig tree, called a pipal or bo tree. This was at Buddh Gaya, India, from which the name Buddha was taken.
Buddha taught that the secret of life was brotherly love and that selfishness causes the world’s woes, which can be eradicated only by the system known as the «Eightfold Paths — right beliefs, right ideals, right words, right deeds, right way of earning a living, right efforts, right thinking, and right meditations». He believed that hatred will never stop until it comes under the power of love. The well-trained mind holds a kindly attitude toward those around, above, or below it. And the love of one’s enemies is the crowning jewel of Buddhist life. The Buddhist goal is
Nirvana, a condition of the mind of complete love and peace. A man may hope for Nirvana only if he has perfect self-control, unselfishness, knowledge, enlightenment, and a kindly attitude. He must also reject all anger, passion, fear, and sin.
Buddhism is a worldwide religion, but it is practiced primarily in India, Indochina, China, and Japan.


Some automobile manufacturers make a model they call a brougham. It’s usually a distinguished, more expensive model. At one time broughams were built with no roof over the chauffeur’s section. It was quite a snazzy-looking car, even though the chauffeur had a problem when it rained.
The car style derived from a carriage style. The horse-drawn brougham was one of the most popular styles during the days before the gasoline- fired motor. It consisted of a four-wheel carriage — a closed, low-slung cab for two passengers — drawn by one horse, with the driver’s seat high above the wheels. It was named in honor of Henry Peter Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), a leading legal reformer in the nineteenth century. Brougham, born in Scotland, was a versatile and brilliant man — a noted lawyer, orator, politician, writer, and a remarkable wit. He was most remembered for his defense of Queen Caroline against the charge of her husband, the regent and later King George IV, that she was guilty of adultery.
Some people say that the four-wheeled carriage with an open driver’s seat got its name because Brougham was frequently seen in this «garden chair on wheels», often in the company of Disraeli or Gladstone. As they drove by, the townspeople would say, «There goes Brougham». It didn’t take long before the vehicle itself was called a brougham after its distinguished occupant.
The brougham became a public service vehicle and was London’s most popular means of transport until eclipsed by the hansom cab.