Social Question

zensky's avatar

Famous people whose name has become a verb?

Asked by zensky (13372points) September 29th, 2011

I imagine that had Google or Twitter been the surname of their respective creators – they would fit the bill.

I was thinking more along the lines of something I saw (heard) on a Law and Order SVU episode, wherein the suspect had “Winona’d” a department store.

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44 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Dr Charles Stent. Invented the stent and a now whole load of doctors spend a lot of time stenting stuff.

ucme's avatar

“Oi, wachoo wearing fella? Cor blimey guvnor, thems proper Tony Blair’s they are!”
Cockney rhyming slang, Tony Blair…flair, as in trousers.

morphail's avatar

Charles Boycott

Buttonstc's avatar

“His name is mud”

I recall an interview I saw with award winning journalist Roger Mudd speaking about Dr. Samuel Mudd, a physician who treated John Willke’s Booth for the broken leg he sustained in his escape after assassinating Lincoln.

Mudd was subsequently tried and convicted of conspiracy because he failed to report this to authorities in a timely manner. Evidently, he had met Booth a few times prior and Booth and some of his associates had been to Mudd’s farm (which was conveniently on the escape route).

There has been considerable historical confusion about his possible innocence in the case. It’s unclear whether he had any prior knowledge of the plot and at what point in time he did know.

Evidently there’s also minor dispute about whether this phrase is specifically related to him. But Roger Mudd (who is related tangentially) said that the lore remains regardless.

Interesting story all around nonetheless.

zensky's avatar

True – but not a verb. Unless “muddied his name” is connected to him and used thus. IDK.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They could pull a Clavin.

Pandora's avatar

Don’t you try to pull that freudian crap on me. I’m not falling for it this time.
Although, doesn’t it become an adjective rather than a verb most of the time?

zensky's avatar

Good examples, but not verbs. If you could say he freuded you – meaning to “shrink” you – then it would be a verb. Like cowboy up, or lawyer up. These are proper nouns that became verbs. But all examples are welcome and interesting. It’s apparently harder than I thought – which makes Ms. Ryder all the more infamous.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

How about Hoovering? The Brits’ vacuuming.

GladysMensch's avatar

I always use Helen Keller. Example:
The lights went out in the basement and I was Helen-Kellering all over the place.
My toddler never sits in his chair at meals. He just walks around the table Helen-Kellering from everyone’s plates.

whitenoise's avatar

In Dutch the word for making a phone call is “bellen”, after Alexander Bell, one of the people inventing the phone.

shrubbery's avatar

I Jackie Chan’d her ass.

smilingheart1's avatar

Charlie Sheen (not too shiny just now)

zensky's avatar

@whitenoise Good one. Historical.

morphail's avatar


“His name is mud” is probably not derived from the name of Samuel Mudd. The phrase is attested from 1823 in the OED, in a British publication, 42 years before Lincoln’s assassination.

1823    ‘J. Bee’ Slang 122   Mud, a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!’ ejaculated upon the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader in the Courier.

Buttonstc's avatar


That’s why I mentioned that it’s in dispute. But, regardless, the connection remains common lore still, especially in the US.

Common lore is not always strictly factual, but that oft has little to do with how widespread it’s popularity.

Obviously the usage you cite would prevail in the British Isles.

smilingheart1's avatar

Obama. (O BOMB A)

erichw1504's avatar

I totally just Lohan’d that line of coke.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hey you’re Boggarting that joint.
Inspired by erichw.

erichw1504's avatar

He justed Kanye’d the shit out of her speech!

erichw1504's avatar

I’m Charlie Sheening at life, man…

zensky's avatar

Gotta go with Rickrolling from those added so far. Lohan et al – a bit of a stretch, eh?

8Convulsions's avatar

My friend told me a story once of when him and his buddies went camping.

He said, “Yeah, my friend totally Steve Irwin’d a duck off the boat.”

It gave me a perfect mental picture. Haha.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

He really screwed up getting caught with that hooker… He really Sheen’d up! Or He really pulled a sheen! Or maneuvered a Charlie on behalf of a Heidi!


Poor Charlie.

Jeruba's avatar

There are tons of eponymous nouns but not so many eponymous verbs. Here are two:

bowdlerize (strip objectionable content out of literature)
mesmerize (hypnotize)

I’ve heard and seen lots of lame attempts to introduce eponyms, even here on fluther, but they seldom catch on and very rarely enter the language.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: So, to MIlo won’t fly?

Jeruba's avatar

Meaning “to be unspeakably adorable, exhibit matchless predatory prowess, and enslave doting human subjects”? You could try it.

Lowercase is required, though, I think: to milo. Will that do?

leopardgecko123's avatar

Chewbacca-from my sisters 10th grade class shirt: Chewing our way through high school.

Fred and George Weasley: In HP books, people were saying they might just “pull a Weasley” after that lesson.

archaeopteryx's avatar

Louise Pasteur ===> Pasteurize

zensky's avatar

^ Really good one! Pasteurize is a perfect example.

The newbie attempted to ask a question which was in txtspk, and even then full of typos – but he was sent to moderation, Jeruba’d it, and reposted it successfully.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: Casper Milquetoast thinks you’re correct re: the lower case.

Nouns are more common. (Pull a “weasely” being a case in point.)

The crapper
A sherlock

Jeruba's avatar

I guess my suggestions of bowdlerize and mesmerize technically don’t meet the requirement because the lasting fame of Dr. Bowdler and Dr. Mesmer seems to rest on the fact that their names have become verbs and not the other way around. The same with boycott and hoover. (Most of the other examples are nouns.)

Do we regard specialized local, slang, or personal use of a word as becoming a verb? I would have said that expression refers to entering the language, as attested by being recorded in a standard dictionary. In which case it would seem that bellen and pasteurize are the only true answers in this thread.

6rant6's avatar

William Russell Frisbie
Elbridge Gerry (Gerrymander)
Luigi Galvani (Galvanize)
Milo Impregnate
Joseph Ignace Guillotin
Roy Jacuzzi and Candido Jacuzzi
Capt. William Lynch
Franz Anton Mesme
Sandford Lockwood Cluett (Sandfordize)

whitenoise's avatar


Milo Impregnate?

gailcalled's avatar

^^A close relative of Higgs Boson.

Kayak8's avatar

@zensky Still getting over the “Jeruba’d” it with a winning answer!

Perhaps “He totally zen___ himself into a different name with the same familiar face” might fit similarly.

zensky's avatar

Not any more babes.

Strauss's avatar

Do fictional characters count? How about “to macgyver”, as in:

“When the tractor developed a radiator leak out in the field, farmer John macgyvered the repair with bailing wire, duct tape and the bubble gum he was chewing.”

SmartAZ's avatar

Philander Knox was involved in so many shady deals and sexual escapades that his name is now a verb to that effect. The validity of the sixteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution is still challenged because of him.

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