in reference to the early color photography process, from the names of French brothers Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948) Lumière, photographers who pioneered the movie camera. The name is literally "light, lamp."
by 1856 in reference to the process for decarbonizing and desiliconizing pig iron by passing air through the molten metal, named for engineer and inventor Sir Harry Bessemer (1813-1898) who invented it.
senium præcox, 1912, the title of article by S.C. Fuller published in "Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases;" named for German neurologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915). The disease name was not common before 1970s; shortened form Alzheimer's is recorded from 1954. The surname is from the place name Alzheim, literally "Old Hamlet."
1926, proprietary name of a type of fiberboard, by Mason Fibre Company, Laurel, Mississippi, U.S., and named for William H. Mason (1877-1940), protege of Edison, who patented the process of making it. Earlier (1840) as a word in mineralogy for a type of chloritoid; the name honors Owen Mason of Providence, R.I., a collector who first brought the mineral to the attention of geologists.
1936, network of defensive fortifications built along the northern and eastern borders of France before World War II, in which the French placed unreasonable confidence, named for André Maginot (1877-1932), French Minister of War under several governments in the late 1920s and early 1930s. After the fall of France in 1940, for the next 40 years or so the phrase was associated with a mental attitude of obsessive reliance on defense.
an old name for a part of Burma and a word for the country in native speech, officially chosen by the military rulers of Burma in 1989. Reasons given for the change include casting off a relic of colonialism, or downplaying the connection to the Burman ethnic majority.
It should be pointed out that this renaming has virtually no impact on Burmese citizens speaking in Burmese, who continue to refer to both Myanma as well as Bama (this not unlike formal reference in the English language to 'The Netherlands' while informally using 'Holland'). [Gustaaf Houtman, "Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics," 1999]
fourteenth letter of the English alphabet; in chemistry, the symbol for nitrogen.
In late Middle English a and an commonly were joined to the following noun, if that word began with a vowel, which caused confusion over how such words ought to be divided when written separately. In nickname, newt, and British dialectal naunt, the -n- belongs to a preceding indefinite article an or possessive pronoun mine.
Other examples of this from Middle English manuscripts include a neilond ("an island," early 13c.), a narawe ("an arrow," c. 1400), a nox ("an ox," c. 1400), a noke ("an oak," early 15c.), a nappyle ("an apple," early 15c.), a negge ("an egg," 15c.), a nynche ("an inch," c. 1400), a nostryche ("an ostrich," c. 1500). My naunt for mine aunt is recorded from 13c.-17c. None other could be no noder (mid-15c.). My nown (for mine own) was frequent 15c.-18c. In 16c., an idiot sometimes became a nidiot (1530s), which, with still-common casual pronunciation, became nidget (1570s), now, alas, no longer whinnying with us.
It is "of constant recurrence" in the 15c. vocabularies, according to Thomas Wright, their modern editor. One has, among many others, Hoc alphabetum ... a nabse, from misdivision of an ABC (and pronouncing it as a word), and Hic culus ... a ners. Also compare nonce, pigsney. Even in 19c. provincial English and U.S., noration (from an oration) was "a speech; a rumor."
The process also worked in surnames, from oblique cases of Old English at "by, near," as in Nock/Nokes/Noaks from atten Oke "by the oak;" Nye from atten ye "near the lowland;" and see Nashville. (Elision of the vowel of the definite article also took place and was standard in Chancery English of the 15c.: þarchebisshop for "the archbishop," thorient for "the orient.")
But it is more common for an English word to lose an -n- to a preceding a: apron, auger, adder, umpire, humble pie, etc. By a related error in Elizabethan English, natomy or atomy was common for anatomy, noyance (annoyance) and noying (adj.) turn up 14c.-17c., and Marlowe (1590) has Natolian for Anatolian. The tendency is not limited to English: compare Luxor, jade (n.1), lute, omelet, and Modern Greek mera for hēmera, the first syllable being confused with the article.
The mathematical use of n for "an indefinite number" is attested by 1717 in phrases such as to the nth power (see nth). In Middle English n. was written in form documents to indicate an unspecified name of a person to be supplied by the speaker or reader.