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Boycott, Barbie, Leotard And Dunce: How Did These Namesakes Become Part Of Our Language? (PHOTOS)

10/05/2010 07:31 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Most of us dream of a noteworthy legacy -- our 15 minutes of fame spread on to eternity. (Un)luckily for some, the English language is chock-full of eponyms -- proper names that have slipped into general usage as other forms of speech.

My new book "Tawdry Knickers and Other Unfortunate Ways to be Remembered" reveals the dark side of immortality -- a curiously related historical collection of nasty reprobates and unwitting victims of circumstance (90 of them), all of whom have had their names imported into our language in a way that might not have made them happy. The book includes our titular twosome: tawdry (poor, virginal St. Audrey) and knickers (New York blueblood Harmen Knickerbocker) as well as notorious namesakes that we wear (leotard), protest (boycott), and gargle (Listerine). These were all people whose names became a part of our lexicon and most of them weren't happy about it.

To buy the book or read more, visit www.tawdryknickers.com. Otherwise, enjoy the sneak peek.

Tawdry Knickers

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