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Chris Lele

SAT Vocab Monday: Eponyms


Eponyms are cool words because they are actually derived from the name of a real person who once lived. Say you become remembered for one special thing and then your name becomes synonymous with things. For instance, my last name is Lele and I like to define SAT words. So if I get “eponym-ized”, then any time someone starts trying to define big words that person can be said to be leleizing. Though I doubt that’s actually going to ever become a thing.


This 18th century scientist was one day playing around with voltage (that was a big novelty back in those days). He realized that if he sends a current through the legs of the frogs—even if the frogs are dead—then the legs will twitch and jump. The scientist’s name is Luigi Galvani, giving us the word ‘galvanize’, which means to shock or stimulate somebody into action (the person typically isn’t dead or amphibious).

Dexter was a total wallflower—until the house music started thumping; then, he was galvanized into performing the most improbable dance moves.


There was once French drill instructor in the military who made life extremely difficult for cadet by being such a stickler and disciplinarian.

Jean Martinet: Jacques Louis, zhou have a speck of dirt on your shoe heel; zhou must now do 300 jumping jacks and then hold ze breathe for 15 minutes.

Cadet: And I thought Napoleon had a complex

(That last bit is actually an anachronism, since Jean Martinet lived a full one hundred years before Napoleon).


Yay, more French eponyms. Nicholas Chauvin actually served under Napoleon and was about as patriotic as you could be without impaling yourself on your sword and saying, “For my country”. Nicholas Chauvin also happened to look down on anyone who wasn’t as patriotic as he was.

Today, anybody who thinks his or her group is better than every other group is a chauvinist. So basically doesn’t have to relate to patriotism any more.

After studying in the Ivy League, Hampton returned home an utter chauvinist, looking down on anybody who didn’t use polysyllabic words.


Franz Mesmer liked to look deeply into a person’s eyes so that that person would become hypnotized (sounds scary!). Mesmer gives us the eponym “mesmerize”, which means to hold somebody spellbound and enthralled. The word doesn’t mean to literally hypnotize, anymore.

The speaker was so eloquent, so engrossing, that the audience became mesmerized.


About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.

You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog!

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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