The use of common names in idiomatic expressions

  All roads lead to Rome This means that there can be many different ways of doing something ( Big Easy

The use of common names in idiomatic expressions

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he same sense.

Proper names could be divided into several groups:

  1. Place names;
  2. Personal names;
  3. Diacritics.

In our work we will research place and personal names in the idioms.


2.2 Place names


Geographical or place names are the nouns we use to refer to specific places and geographic features. They are also called toponyms.

Toponyms can be both place names, real or imaginary, as well as names derived from places or regions. They can be found in many different arenas of industry, enterprise, culture, and current events. It is not unusual to find toponyms used for places that withdraw other places, as well as wars, treaties and agreements, bands, food, and fabric, among other items ( For example, there are many places beginning with the word new that are toponyms named to recall or honor other places. In North America New Hampshire named after Hampshire, England; New Jersey named for the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel; New Mexico, recalling the country to south; New York, after York, England; and the Canadian province Nova Scotia, which means “New Scotland.” Toponyms can be found in almost every sphere of our life.

Some modern-day bands have toponyms for their name. Chicago (the American rock band formed) takes its name from the city of Chicago. The Manhattan Transfer (an American vocal group) has a name that is a toponym once-removed: it is named after novel Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos, after Manhattan Transfer train station in Harrison, New Jersey. The rock group Styx, originally called The Tradewinds, drew their toponymic second name from the river in Greek mythology. The Shangri-Las, named after the Himalayan utopia in James Hiltons novel, Lost Horizon, was an all-girl American pop trio.

A number of fabrics have toponyms that notice their place of origin. The shirt fabric called Oxford takes its name from Oxford, England. The two thick cotton materials used for pants, denim and jean, are both place names: the first derives from the fact that it came from Nоmes, France “de Nоmes”, Jeans comes from the French pronunciation Gкnes of its city of origin, Genoa.

There are toponyms of food as well. Hamburgers, named for Hamburg, Germany, and frankfurters or hotdogs, named for Frankfurt, Germany. Also, two nicknames for coffee, Java and Mocha, referencing cities in Indonesia and Yemen. Tangerines are a popular fruit named for Tangiers, Morocco, but the Barbados cherry, Natal plum, and Java plum might be less familiar. Using the name "Champagne," a name for sparkling wine, is illegal in a number of parts of the world unless the product originates in the Champagne region of France.

In addition to that, the well-known names are derived from toponyms:

  • Event and agreements. For example, Jackon State (Mississippi) the Jackon Statelkilling in 1970; Maastricht (The Netherlands) the Maastrict treaty of 1992; Potsdam (Germany) the Potsdam Conference in 1945. (
  • Cheese: Edam after town of Edam in the Netherlands; Parmesan, from Parma Italy; Roquefort after a village in southern France. (
  • Wine: Bordeaux, Chablis, Madeira wine, a fortified wine and Plum in madeira, a dessert Madeira islands of Portugal. (
  • Corporations: Nokia, Vaasa, Raisio some corporations whose name is simply the same as their original location. (
  • Derivations from literary or mythical places: Eden, any paradisiacal area, named after the religious Garden of Eden; El Dorado, any area of great wealth, after the mythical city of gold; utopia, term for organized society Utopia, fictional republic from the book of the same name. (


2.3 Personal names


Personal names are the names given to people, but can be used as well for some animals (like race horses) and natural or man-made inanimate objects (like ships and geological formations). As proper nouns, are almost always first-letter capitalized. Exceptions are made when the given individual does not want their name to be capitalized, and the lowercase variant has received regular and established use in reliable third party sources. ( Personal names are transcribed into English spelling but generally not Anglicized or translated between languages; it was also mentioned in the case with place names.

Let us look at the examples:

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (Алексбндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин) was a …

Canute (sometimes Cnut; Danish Knud) is the …

Personal names are also called eponyms. An eponym is a word derived from the names of real, fictional, mythical or spurious character or person (Ошибка! Недопустимый объект гиперссылки.). One who is referred to as eponymous is someone that gives their name to something, e.g. Julian, the eponymous owner of the famous restaurant Julian's Castle.

In different cultures, time periods have often been named after the person who ruled during that period:

  • One of the first recorded cases of eponymy occurred in the second millennium BC, when the Assyrians named each year after a high official (limmu).
  • In Ancient Rome, one of the two formal ways of indicating a year was to mention the two annual consuls who served in that year. For example, the year we know as 59 BCE would have been described as “the consulship of Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus and Gaius Julius Caesar”. Under the empire, the consuls would change as often as every two months, but only the two consuls at the beginning of the year would lend their names to that year.
  • In the Christian era, many royal households used eponymous dating by regal years. Although The Roman Catholic Church finally used the Anno Domini dating scheme based on the birth of Christ on both the general public and royalty.
  • Government administrations or political trends often become eponymous with a government leader. North American examples include the Nixon Era, Trudeaumania, Jeffersonian economics, Jacksonian democracy, McCarthyism, Thatcherism, Kennedys Camelot or Reaganomics.
  • British monarchs have turned eponymous throughout the English speaking world for time periods, fashions, etc. For example, Elizabethan, Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian (

Places and towns can also be given an eponymous name through a relationship (real or imagined) to an important figure. Peloponnesus, for example, was said to derive its name from the Greek god Pelops. In historical times, new towns have often been named after their founders, discoverers, or after notable individuals. In science and technology, discoveries and innovations are often named after the discoverer (or supposed discoverer) or to honor some other influential workers. Examples are Avogadros number, the Diesel engine, meitnerium, Alzheimers disease and the Apgar score. Some books, films, video, and TV shows have one or more eponymous principal characters: Robinson Crusoe, the Harry Potter series, Seinfield and I love Lucy, for example.

There are thousands of eponyms in everyday use of English language today and study of them yields a fascinating insight into the rich heritage of the worlds most popular language and its development ( The list of themes where eponyms can be found is very long and various:

  • Albums: David Bowie: David Bowie; Cher: Cher. (
  • Adages: Murphys law ascribed to Edward A. Murphy who stated “If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will end in disaster, then someone will do it that way.” (
  • Adjectives: parkinsonian James Parkinson (as in parkinsonian syndrome), Stalinist -Joseph Stalin. (
  • Cartoon characters: Baby Face Finlayson, from The Beano comic Baby Face Nelson, Nero, Belgian comic character by Marc Sleen is named after the Roman emperor Nero. (
  • Chemical elements: curium (Cm, 96) Pierre and Marrie Curie, promethium (Pm, 61) Prometheus, a Titan from Greek mythology. (
  • Human anatomical parts: Achilles tendom Achilles, Greek mythological character, Adams apple Adam, Biblical character. (
  • Ideologies: Leninism after Vladimir Lenin, Maoism after Mao Zedong. (
  • Inventions: Braille Louis Braille, diesel engine Rudolph Diesel. (
  • Mathematical theorems: Ptolemaios theorem (geometry), Atkinsons theorem (operator theory). (
  • Prizes, awards and medals: N

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