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Who Are You Wearing?

An 'eponym' is a name for something derived from a person's proper name. Pennsylvania is named for William Penn, for example. John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, lent his title to the lunchtime meal. Here are stories of how some other eponyms came to be. How many do you know?

1. Historians attribute the first ornamental napkin to a London linen draper in the early 18th century. His thin woolen fabric was attractive and inexpensive. He sold it originally as summer wear. His product thrived. Hostesses began cutting the cloth into pieces and placing it under glassware and finger bowls. When it sold as clothing in 1712, the inventor's name clung to it: D- - - - - petticoats and suits. What was his invention (spelled almost the same as the maker's last name)?

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2. Even England's Duke of Wellington, then a national hero, was refused admission to a club because of his loose-fitting breeches. The name of the item of clothing was derived from a character in Italian theatrical comedies: Pantaleone was a Venetian buffoon whose baggy leggings puffed out above his knees.We know the word better in its shortened form. What is it?

3. John Batterson S- - - - - -, a New Jersey hatter, traveled west at the time of the Civil War. He noticed that cowboys on the range needed more practical head gear. When he returned East, he opened a new hat factory. The hats he made became immensely popular with cattlemen. What's this hat called?

4. This one-piece body suit originated under the big top. Nineteenth-century French aerialist Jules L- - - - - - invented the costume for his circus performances. The daredevil was even more famous for another of his innovations: the flying trapeze. But what was he wearing?

5. This raincoat bears the surname of its inventor, Charles M- - - - - - - -, the first man to make truly waterproof fabrics. The Scottish chemist used a rubberizing process to create a cloth that revolutionized outdoor living. In time, any kind of waterproof coat took his name. But the spelling was wrong from the start: The coat has a 'k' in it; the inventor's name does not.


(1) a doily by a Mr. Doyley (his first name is lost to history); (2) pantaloons, or pants; (3) a Stetson by John Batterson Stetson (1830-1906); (4) a leotard by Jules Leotard (1842-70); (5) a 'mackintosh' or 'mack' by Charles Macintosh (1766-1843).

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