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You've Got to be Kidding...

What's in a Name?


Jonathan van Bilsen

February 3, 2022

What's in a Name?

Quite often, when I use a piece of Scotch tape or grab a Kleenex, I tend to forget these words are actually brand names, which have become household terms. I did a little research into names and realized there are more than a few brands, which have become synonymous with the products they represent.

For example, did you know that a clergyman, living in Trinidad, sent several species of tropical fish to the British museum, including a tiny specimen, which now bears his name? The clergyman was R.J. Guppy.

I’m sure you are familiar with the famous Frenchman, Dr. J. I. Guillotine, who was a very humane individual and wanted to find a better way to execute people. Ironically, he came up with different methods for hanging, but the Guillotine was not his invention. Somehow, his name was linked with the famous blade, and as fate would have it, he lost his own life to the darn thing.

A renowned French acrobat kept getting his clothing stuck in various gymnastic devices. He decided to invent a more streamlined costume, which, as it turned out, hid very little from the audience. His name, was none other than Jules Leotard.

Back in the day, people would visit Limmer’s Old House in London. This local alehouse began serving different drinks, and it attracted people from all around the area. Word spread throughout London and soon, everyone wanted to experience a drink at Limmer’s Old House, especially one made by bartender, Tom Collins.

John Duns Scotus was a respected scholar and theologian of the thirteenth century. A few hundred years after his passing there were issues with the right wing beliefs of his followers. People referred to these hangers on as ‘Scotists, Dunsemen and Dunses,’ and were loathed for their resistance to the new ideas of the Renaissance. More enlightened thinkers scolded the Dunses for their ignorance, and eventually Dunses became ‘dunces’.

The first person to bring tobacco to France was a French ambassador to Portugal, named Jean Nicot. In 1818, when a tar-like substance was found in tobacco leaves, the new chemical was named nicotine. I wonder how Jean would feel about that today?

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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