The US territory of Wake Island was first discovered in 1792 by William Wake, the captain of a British trading schooner called the Prince William Henry. One would think, based on that information, that the island would be named after him, but everybody kind of forgot about the dinky little atoll for a few years until it was rediscovered by the Prince William Henry in 1796, this time helmed by Wake's relative, Samuel Wake. Without leaving the deck of his ship, the latter Wake did a quick survey of the island, named it after himself, and moved on. Later in that same year, a new ship called The Halcyon came across the island and its captain, Charles Barkley, named it after the boat. However, it was too late; Samuel's name had already made it onto maps. Unsurprisingly, there was a large peak in usage of the island name during World War II. What an interesting history!
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.