Here’s an eponym from the Bible that could cause pimples as well as weakening of the organs, blurred vision, nervous disorders, rheumatism, headaches, insanity, and loss of appetite.
ONANISM (ōn′ ə nĭz′əm) noun :
1) Masturbation (and figuratively)
2) Coitus interruptus – Sexual intercourse deliberately interrupted by withdrawal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation.
Etymology: Onan, the second son of Judah in the Bible, may have gotten a bad rap for nearly four centuries because the authorities interpreted his sin as masturbation, or as they liked to refer to it, ‘self-pollution’ (in the begetting game this is a definite no-no).
Onanism retains that meaning today, but it is one of three possibilities from Genesis 38:9, where the story appears. The crime for which Jehovah slew Onan was not masturbation, but rather (#1) the refusal to impregnate Tamar, the widow of his elder brother Er—whom God had already gotten pissed off at and slain for some unspecified ‘wickedness.’ Onan had failed to fulfill the obligation of ‘levirate marriage’ – the practice of marrying the widow of one's childless brother to maintain his line, as required by ancient Hebrew law. Upon Er’s death, Judah had instructed Onan to marry Tamar and to give her a child which, by a quirk of custom, designed to protect primogeniture, would then be raised as his dead brother’s heir. But Onan was no fool and balked and, instead of lying with Tamar, ‘spilled his seed on the ground.’ But there’s two possibilities for spilling seed on the said ground: a) coitus interruptus (#2) or b) the infamous ‘self-abuse (#3). And the Good Book doesn’t make it clear which one it is.
Anyway, it was Onan’s refusal to obey his father’s command that caused God to knock him off. But he did not die in vain because we can all remember him as a martyr for the rights of the second-born!
(American Heritage Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary, Namesakes by T. Tuleja, and Wikipedia)
The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
__________________________<1728 “Onania, and Onanism, Terms some late Emperics have framed to denote the Crime of Self-pollution.”—Cyclopediap by E. Chambers>
<1847–9 “A young man excessively addicted to onanism.”—Todd’s Cyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology, IV. i. page 156/2>
<1892 “This man put into practice, to calm the fears of his wife, . . . the best calculated refinements of conjugal onanism.”—Conjugal Relationships by A. K. Gardner, vii. page 96>
<1900 “There is an account of a young girl addicted to onanism who died from the presence of a pewter cup in her vagina.”—Anomalies and Curiosities in Medicine by Gould & Pyle, xiii. page 694> [[Her cup runneth over!]]
<1974 “. . . these programs can be rightly accused of intellectual onanism.”—The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 55, No. 9, May, page 626>
<2002 “At what point does that kind of sex become preferable to onanism?”—The Observer (London), Magazine (Nexis), 20 October, page 101>
<2007 “They're changing the guards at Buckingham Palace - well, they'll be changing one of them pretty soon for gross misconduct. . . the man (thought to be from the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards) stepped out of the box, turned to his right and made a rude gesture, suggestive of frenzied onanism.—The Independent (London), 29 September>
<2012 . . . artist whose work is pretty much the last word in conceptual onanism, . . .”—Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 27 January>
Ken G – February 29, 2012