Here’s the story of French nouns that were originally the last name of the person who invented them:
“ La Guillotine” is a machine designed to chop the head. It was invented by Doctor Joseph Guillotin to shorten the agony of the people sentenced to the death penalty.
“ Le Kir” is a social drink made of blackberry syrup and white wine that became very popular. It was invented by a clergyman named Felix Kir.
“Une mansarde” is a space created under the roof of a house as an additional room (such as an attic). Its name comes from Francois Mansart, the French architect who invented the two slides roof at the XVIIth century.
“Un massicot” is a machine designed to cut paper. This tool is used all over the world. The mechanic who set it up it in 1840 was named Guillaume Massicot.
“Une mongolfiere” is an air balloon. It was invented by two brothers called Montgolfier in 1783.
The origin of “La nicotine” is the name of the French ambassador in Portugal named Jean Nicot. He imported tobacco in France in 1559 which was called at this time “Nicot’s herb”.
“Un opinel” is a very popular pocket knife in France. It’s a foldaing one, the style of which was created by Joseph Opinel.
“Un hachis parmentier” is a French recipe of oven cooked mashed potatoes and ground beef. This dish has been name in honor of Antoine Parmentier, a French agronomist who introduced the potato to France. Antoine Parmentier became so famous thanks to his discovery, that he belongs to the happy few whose name has also been given to a Parisian subway stop.
“Une piplette” is a person who LOVES small talk. This noun comes from the name of “Pipelet,” the main character of a play called “Paris’ Mysteries” by Eugene Sue.
“Une poubelle” (which means a trash container) is the name of the Governor of Paris, Eugene Poubelle, who made the decision that the Parisian would collect their garbage in containers during the XIXth century, rather than throwing everything in the street.
“Le rimmel” is commonly used to speak about mascara in France. This is because this make up product has been invented by a French chemist in 1880. Since then, the brand became American and offers a full range of make up products.
“Une silhouette” is a sketch representing roughly a person or an object. This name comes from Etienne de Silhouette who was a hated Federal Controller of Finance in France at the XVIIIth century. Everybody would like to mock him by drawing his picture as a caricature.
“Un strass” is a fake diamond used to design cheap jewelry. It was invented by Georges Frederic Strass King, Louis the 15th’s jeweler, during the XVIIIth century.