Difference between Namesake and Eponym

Key Difference: While, both terms have something to do with the naming one thing after another, the difference actually lies in what each term refers to. The term namesake refers to the one who receives the name, whereas the term eponym refers to thing that gave the name.

The terms Namesake and Eponym create a lot of confusion. They are commonly confused and mistakenly used interchangeably. This is mainly due to the fact that both terms have something do with naming something after another.

However, there is actually a difference in the way the terms are used. While, both terms have something to do with the naming one thing after another, the difference actually lies in what each term refers to. The term namesake refers to the one who receives the name, whereas the term eponym refers to thing that gave the name. The terms in fact can actually be used to refer to a person, place, thing, etc., as long as namesake refers to the one who is named after the eponym.

Let’s consider an example: The city of Columbus, Ohio is named after Christopher Columbus, who actually founded the continents. Hence, in this scenario, the city is the namesake, whereas the explorer is the eponym. However, if in this case, a child is named after the city of Columbus, perhaps because it holds some significance for his parents, then the city would be the eponym, whereas the child, namesake.

In order to remember the difference, one can keep in mind that ‘namesake’ can stand for the shortened form of “named for the sake of”, which will help one remember that the namesake is actually the receiver of the name, whereas the eponym is the giver of the name.

Comparison between Namesake and Eponym:

 

Namesake

Eponym

Definition

One that has the same name as another; especially:  one who is named after another or for whom another is named

One for whom or which something is or is believed to be named

A name (as of a drug or a disease) based on or derived from an eponym

Description

When a person or thing is named after something else, mostly a way to honor them, then that person or thing is said to the namesake.

When something is named after you, as a way to honor you. When something lends their name to something else, then they become the eponym.

Characteristics

Named after something

Something named after them

Examples

  • The Elizabethan Age is the namesake of Elizabeth I.
  • The Victorian Age is the namesake of Queen Victoria.
  • The Tudor Dynasty is the namesake of Henry VII of England.
  • The teddy bear is the namesake of President Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Little Maggie is the namesake of Aunt Margaret.
  • The planet, Jupiter, is the namesake of the Roman god.
  • Elizabeth I was the eponym of the Elizabethan Age.
  • Queen Victoria was the eponym of the Victorian Age.
  • Henry VII of England was the eponym of the Tudor Dynasty.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt was the eponym of the teddy bear.
  • Aunt Margaret was the eponym for little Maggie.
  • Jupiter, the Roman god, is the eponym of the planet.

Image Courtesy: hsgsb.exblog.jp, neatorama.com

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