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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Basic Biittner : my Eponymous ways (part two)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Due to the overwhelming response to my first column on the subject, I continue herein with a list of more eponyms, which are persons after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named - or thought to be named.

Mulligan, in its golf sense, is a relatively new word, but was in common use on golf courses by at least the 1940s. A mulligan is, of course, a "do-over." There are many, many stories about the birth of the golf term "mulligan" ... and it's quite possible that none of them are true.

The USGA Museum offers several possible explanations. In one, a fellow by the name of David Mulligan frequented St. Lambert Country Club in Montreal, Quebec, during the 1920s. Mulligan let it rip off the tee one day, wasn't happy with the results, re-teed, and hit again. According to the story, he called it a "correction shot," but his partners thought a better name was needed and dubbed it a "mulligan."

Perhaps because Mr. Mulligan was a prominent businessman - owning multiple hotels - the term was more likely to catch on. But that's only if you believe this version. Which, alas, does not have any hard evidence to support it. (The USGA Web Site actually provides two other alternate versions of the David Mulligan story - the origins of "mulligan" are so mysterious that the same story winds up with three different versions)

Another story cited by the USGA is of a John "Buddy" Mulligan, known for replaying poor shots at Essex Fells Country Clubs in N.J.

Another interesting theory is related by the Web site, StraightDope.com: "Another origin theory ties to the period when Irish-Americans were joining fancy country clubs and were derided as incompetent golfers. That would make the term basically an ethnic slur that caught on, like 'Indian summer' or 'Dutch treat.' "

The "Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" offers a more prosaic explanation. It postulates the word derives from saloons that, back in the day, would place a free bottle of booze on the bar for customers to dip into. That free bottle was called, according to the book, a Mulligan. The term was adapted to the golf course to denote a "freebie" to be used by golfers.

Lou Gehrig's Disease, of course, is the commonly-used name for ALS (Amotropic Lateral Sclerosis), the illness which led to the early death of the Yankee slugger. I've always thought that if I had to have disease named after me, I'd much rather have it be because I discovered the illness, rather than because I died from it - but maybe that's just me). Anyway, the following three illnesses are among many which were named after the person who first discovered or described it -

Alzheimer's Disease , a form of dementia, was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the sufferer's motor skills, speech, and other functions, and is named after English pharmacist James Parkinson, who made a detailed description of the disease in his essay: "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy" (1817).

Tourette's Syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by the presence of multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic; these tics characteristically wax and wane. The condition was named after Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (1859--1904), a French physician and neurologist, who published an account of nine patients with Tourette's in 1885.

The Barbie doll was named for the daughter of the doll's creator, Ruth Handler, and the Wendy's restaurant for the daughter of that chain's founder, Dave Thomas.

Braille , the

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner