When did you last have a sandwich? Or maybe some fettucini alfredo? Or even pizza margherita? I don’t suppose that as you were munching away at your meal that you thought, “Mmh, what a delicious eponymous dish!”
An eponym is the name of a person, place, or thing after which an item is named.
Way back in the 1760’s, John Montague would play cards with his friends regulary. Like most gamblers, he didn’t like to leave the table if he could avoid it, so he often asked for folks to put small food items between two slices of bread, simply so he could play cards and eat at the same time.
Montague also happened to be the 4th Earl of Sandwich, an estate in England. So, the meal became know as the sandwich, after the ravenous earl. Sandwich is an example of an eponym.
In the early 20th century, Italian Alfedo di Lelio invented a new dish for his wife. It was made from fettuccine pasta that had been tossed with Parmesan cheese, butter, and artery clogging heavy cream. It became known as the fetuccini Alfredo, another eponym.
Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy and used tomato, cheese, and basil to simulate the colors of the Italian flag – red, white, and green.
So the word eponym really applies to the name of the person or place, hence sandwich, fettucini, and Alfredo. it comes from the Greek ὲπὡνυμ, a word made up of ὲπί (meaning “upon”) and ὸμομα for “name.”
Burking, the practice of strangling a victim so as to sell the body to the medical professions is another eponymous word.