Here the two fold story of the French nouns that were originally the last name of the person who invented them:
“Un Amphitryon” can be used in a very formal language as “a host who receives guests for diner”. This name became popular after the success of a Moliere play from the XVIIth century, whose main character was called this way.
“Un barème” is a scoring scale explaining the details of the math to applied in order to get a specific result. This word comes from the name of the mathematician François Barrême.
“Une béchamel” is a white sauce used in traditional French cuisine. The cook who invented it was the Maitre D of the King Louis XIV, Louis de Bechameil.
“Un bottin” is a phone directory in French. This noun comes from the name of the French statistician who put together the first historical list of revolutionaries during the French Revolution.
“Le Braille” is a reading and writing code for blind people. It was invented by Louis Braille in the XIXth century.
“Le charvet” is a silk fabric that was named in honor of the iconic shirt maker Edouard Charvet. The Charvet family has been tailoring customized luxury clothing since the Napoleon Empire period. Its only store is located Place Vendome and its regular clients are kings, princes and demanding luxury garment lovers.
“Chauvin” is a common adjective used to speak about somebody who is fan of his local place, whether it is his country, his city or his area: a “chauvinist”. The origin of the noun is a Napoleonic soldier Nicolas CHAUVIN who was a great fan of the Emperor Napoleon.
“La Reine Claude” is the name given to a specific French plum. This was the name of “Claude de France,” spouse of King Francois the 1st. He gave the plum his wife’s name because she was crazy about this small juicy fruit from Lorraine.
“Un Don Juan” is used to describe a selfish and disrespectful womanizer. The origin of the noun is the same named Moliere play character.
“Un Gavroche” is the name we given to a Parisian underprivileged kid. Originally this was the name of a character of Les Miserables, the must read French literature basic by Victor Hugo.
“Un Gibus” is the name we give to a top that can be flattened. We also call it “slam hat”. The French hat maker who invented it in 1834 is Antoine Gibus.
“Des Godillots” is a slang name used for shoes. This noun comes from the name of Alexis Godillot who was the shoe maker for the French military during the XIXth century.
“Un Guignol” is the noun used to describe somebody who would act like a class clown. Somebody who is not serious. Originally Guignol was the name of the main character of a famous funny and sarcastic puppet show created in the city of Lyon in 1808.
Stay tuned for Part 2!