What’s in an eponym?
How to cite this article: Kaliyadan F. What’s in an eponym?. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol doi: 10.25259/IJDVL_709_2021
Dermatology without eponyms?
Just long soporific synonyms?
Sounds like any dull dermatitis
But “Darier- White”
That sounds just right
The name and its history
Add to the charm and mystery
Honor our greats of yore
Hebra, Hutchinson, Hansen and more
And rarely a patient too we remember
Stories like that of Mrs.Mortimer
The apostrophe thus gains eminence
Mortimer’s disease, it is, hence
‘Hansen’s’ disease, it is not
Leprosy for sure he had not
But when you have a sign
Darier’s and Gorlin’s, then it’s fine
There is a lot in a name, true
But quite a lot in punctuation too!
Eponyms in medicine was a point of discussion in a meeting held in 1975 to cover classification and nomenclature of morphological defects. The meeting was held at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America, and the recommendations from the same were published in The Lancet. One of the recommendations for conditions named after the scientists was that “the possessive use of an eponym should be discontinued, since the author neither had nor owned the disorder.”1 This obviously sounds logical, although it is not followed strictly in modern scientific literature. Rarely, diseases have been named after the patient(s) in whom it was first reported (like Lou Gehrig’s disease named after a famous American baseball player or ‘Mortimer’s malady/disease’, which is now considered to be a variant of cutaneous sarcoidosis, named after Mrs. Mortimer, a patient of Jonathan Hutchinson). In this context, the possessive use would be fine. However, the question of whether or not to use eponyms at all, is a larger debate which is likely to continue ad infinitum!
Declaration of patient consent
Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.