24 November 2022


Nicotine, the addictive alkaloid found in tobacco, is another of the many English eponyms of French origin. The formal name for the tobacco plant is the Latin Nicotiana tabacum, and it was named after Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal in the 1500s.

Jean Nicot de Villemain, a French diplomat and scholar became famous for being the first to bring tobacco to France, including snuff tobacco. He sent tobacco and seeds to Paris in 1560 and then presented it to the French King. He also promoted its medicinal use, since smoking was believed to protect against illness, particularly the plague.

The fashionable people of Paris began to use the plant, making Nicot a celebrity.

The plant was called Nicotina, but nicotine later came to refer specifically to the particular chemical in the plant.

Tabak P9290021.JPG
Nicotiana tabacum, or cultivated tobacco, CC BY 2.5, Link

18 October 2022

The Effects of Twilight

When I wrote this post in 2010, it was about popular baby names at that time and particularly the effct of the Twilight movie series on baby names. What I didn't expect was how popular the post would be over the years- and another Twilight effect.

When a post gets a lot of hits/visits, it moves up in my site's rankings and also in the way search engines rank pages. That attracts visitors and it also attracts spammers. This post (in its original form) gets more spam comments than any other post. It is not the most popular post here but it is the most popular with spammers who want to leave a comment with links to their sites or services. Let's see if this updating with a title change has any effect on the "twilight effect."

“Anything can influence baby names, from pop culture to literature to music and celebrities,” says Jennifer Moss, author of The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book and founder of Babynames.com.

The top baby names for 2009 show Mom and Dad were looking to popular vampire books and the first family for baby names. Fame can be fleeting - Miley (Cyrus) and Jonas (as in the brothers) took a stock market dive at the end of 2009.


Isabella was the top baby name for girls, Jacob for boys. Isabella’s climb to the top in 2009 ended Emma’s one-year reign. Jacob is on an 11-year run at the top. The surname of the Twilight movie series vampire Edward Cullen became the fastest-rising baby boy name in 2009.

Barack didn’t crack the top 1,000 for boys in 2010, but a version of President Obama's daughter’s name, Malia, was the fastest riser for girls. Maliyah moved up 342 spots, to No. 296, while Malia came in at No. 192, rising 153 spots.

17 October 2022

Montreal Expos

Montreal Expos programme photo

Before Major League Baseball expanded to Montreal in 1969, there were minor league teams in Montréal and they were usually named the "Royals." This was a reference to Mount Royal (French: Mont Royal), which is located west of today's downtown and after which the city was named.

The Montréal Expos (French: Les Expos de Montréal) were a Canadian professional baseball team there. They were the first Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise located outside the United States.

The Expos were named in honor of Expo 67, which was the World's Fair (exposition) held two years before the Expos began play.

They played in the National League (NL) East Division from 1969 until 2004.  They have no World Series Titles.

In 1994, a players' strike wiped out the last eight weeks of the season and all of the post-season. Montreal was in first place by six games in the National League East Division when play was stopped, but no official titles were awarded in 1994.

Their top franchise players were Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, Tim Raines, Steve Rogers, Rusty Staub, and Jose Vidro.

Following the 2004 season, the franchise relocated to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals and the "Expos" name was retired.

Montréal currently has no MLB team.  The Kansas City Royals team name has no connection to the old Montréal teams by that name.