The title is confusing but I can explain. This question originates from this post on why Zika is capitalised while chikungunya and yellow fever were not. The consensus was that Zika originated from Zika the African forest (and hence a proper noun) while the other two were just descriptions and hence not proper nouns, are not capitalised ("chikungunya" from a common Makonde word meaning "something bending up" and yellow is pretty self-explanatory)

But there's an outlier in this convention. ampere is the SI unit for current named after Ampere the scientist and I remember reading that we should not confuse Ampere with ampere as the first refers to the scientist and the latter to the unit of current. So why is there this exception?

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    I've just downvoted the answer to the linked question claiming that "Zika" is a proper noun, named after a forest in Africa; therefore, it's capitalized. Whether to capitalise the name of a disease or virus is almost entirely a stylistic choice that changes over time anyway. And I'll just point out that the full OED has 4 citations for chikungunya - two of which are capitalised, but not the other two. And their most recent citation for zika is NOT CAPITALISED! There are no absolute "answers" here. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 17:07
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    See this NGram showing that Chikungunya is as likely to be capitalised as not. And that word definitely doesn't arise from some pre-existing "proper noun" like Ampere the man or Zika the place. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 17:17
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    The SI unit "ampere" isn't an outlier: ohm, watt, kelvin, coulomb, joule, curie, hertz, newton, pascal, volt, farad, tesla, becquerel...
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


Every SI unit uses lower case and loads of them are named after people. It's actually a deliberate style choice made by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. See the answers to this post on the english language stack exchange.

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