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5 Capitalization

5.14 Words derived from proper nouns

Capitals are used for a word derived from a personal name or other proper noun in contexts where the link with the noun is still felt to be alive:

an Adonis

a Casanova

Dantesque

Dickensian

Homeric

Kafkaesque

Orwellian

Shakespearean

Lower case is used in contexts where the association is remote, merely allusive, or a matter of convention:

gargantuan

pasteurize

protean

quixotic

titanic

wellington boots

Some words of this type can have both capitals and lower case in different contexts:
Bohemian (of central Europe) but bohemian (unconventional)
Philistine (of biblical people) but philistine (tastes)
Platonic (of philosophy) but platonic (love)
Stoic (of ancient philosophy) but stoic (impassive)

Retain the capital letter after a prefix and hyphen:

pro-Nazi

anti-British

non-Catholic

Use lower case for scientific units (see also 14.1.4) and poetic metres derived from names:

ampere

joule

newton

volt

watt

alcaics

alexandrines

sapphics

In compound terms for concepts such as scientific laws the personal name only is capitalized:

Planck’s law

Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Occam’s razor

Halley’s comet

In medical texts, eponymic derivations may be downcased: Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonism, parkinsonian. See 14.3.6.

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Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms