Eponyms are names or phrases derived from or including the name of a person or place. These terms are used in a descriptive or adjectival sense in medical and scientific writing to describe entities such as diseases, syndromes, signs, tests, methods, and procedures.
Eponyms historically have indicated the name of the describer or presumptive discoverer of the disease (eg, Alzheimer disease) or sign (eg, Murphy sign), the name of a person or kindred found to have the disease described (eg, Christmas disease), or, when based on the name of a place (technically, toponyms), the geographic location in which the disease was found to occur (eg, Lyme disease). Traditionally, eponyms named after the describer or discoverer took the possessive form (-'s) and those named for other persons or for places took the nonpossessive form.
According to AMA, “there is some continuing debate over the use of the possessive form for eponyms, but a transition toward the nonpossessive form has taken place.”
In accordance with this, JMIR will now discontinue the use of the possessive for eponymous terms, both for the naming of diseases and for the names of statistical tests.
Nonpossesive form of disease names:
- Alzheimer disease
- Parkinson disease
- Down syndrome
Nonpossesive form of statistical test names:
- Cohen d
- Spearman rank correlation
- Fischer exact test
Note the following exceptions to the rule (according to AMA)
- The possessive form is used when it is part of an established nonmedical eponymous name:
St John’s wort
- The possessive form is retained if it is part of the name of an organization or was used in the original of a quotation or citation:
The Alzheimer’s Association
For further information, please see AMA Section 16 (Section 20.9 for statistics specific information).