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The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium: From Joseph Frisbie to Roy Jacuzzi, How Everyday Items Were Named for Extraordinary People
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The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium: From Joseph Frisbie to Roy Jacuzzi, How Everyday Items Were Named for Extraordinary People

liked it 3.0  ·  Rating details ·  39 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
What’s in a name? For Philip Dodd, this question led to an international hunt for the best stories of eponymous heroes-- an extraordinarily diverse group of people with just one thing in common: by chance or deliberately, they have left their names deeply embedded in the language and consciousness of future generations.

A few, such as instrument-maker Adolphe Sax, set out
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 27th 2007 by Gotham (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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Fuzzy Gerdes
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
I confess I have a weakness for 'factoid' books like >The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium -- a collection of essays about "how everyday items were named for extraordinary people". This one has perhaps a bit more depth than the usual bathroom book -- Philip Dodd gives deft biographical sketches of all of his subjects, beyond the simple circumstances of their language-enhancing exploits, and he also does his research, penetrating past oft-repeated hearsay to find the truth. Reverend Guppy, for examp ...more
Spike Gomes
"The Reverend Guppy's Aquarium" is something of an ironic title. It turns out that Guppy was not a Reverend, nor did he have an aquarium. He did however lend his name to the pet fish most of us are acquainted with in our childhood due to an act of scientific mislabeling by an overworked and somewhat tragic curator of a Victorian British scientific institution. This book is a delightful and breezy jaunt through the history of several well known eponymous personages, some well known, and some forg ...more
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
The idea is interesting - the author seeks to flesh out the stories of a number of well-chosen people from whom we get the names of a variety of eponymous objects, from frisbees and saxophones to freesia and the G-spot. The writing style is pleasant enough, and though there are a few too many tangents into the bits and bobs of genealogy (and a hint of the author being a frustrated travel writer?) it was a nice enough read.

I only rate it so averagely because it didn't quite 'hang' together for m
Benjamin Elliott
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought this was a fun concept for a book, and it gave me a chance to learn about some interesting individuals without having to read a full-length biography of each one. My interest in each section was inconsistent, but that is to be expected with such a varied subject range. The author was very British in a way that was hard to connect with on a couple occasions, but the book on a whole was enjoyable.
This is a funny little book about one man's quest to find out where many commonly-recognized objects got their names -- including the guppy, the Frisbee, and quite a few others. It combines the best features of a travel book and a history. I was never clear about whether this guy travelled the world looking just for these answers, or if he just happened to be vacationing in some obscure corner of the world and stumbled across this or that.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etymology
An in depth, informative look at a selection of everyday objects named either after their inventors or some other key figure in their origins.
Rather lets itself down by being overly pompous at times and being far too prone to wistful meanderings & ponderings.

A bit like the book equivalent of a stuffy Radio 4 documentary you might listen to because you're bored in the car but you'll soon get bored and flick to other stations.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
A little dry at times, but interesting none-the-less. I did start skipping around to read in a different order, but ultimately read all but one chapter. Sadly, I don't care about the origin of Biro pens.
Jennifer Kunz
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book! Lots of info on the people, and personal story of author's investigating said people was interwoven nicely. For me, an anglophile, I enjoyed all the British terms and spellings - and outlook as well. Recommend!
Dec 28, 2009 added it
Well done, interesting writing. Wish I could retain it all...
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