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An aptronym (also: aptonym) or charactonym is a name aptly suited to its owner. The medieval Latin poem Eupolemius uses aptronyms based on Greek words to allegorise the story of the Gospel. In the book What's in a Name? (1996), author Paul Dickson cites a long list of aptronyms originally compiled by Professor Lewis P. Lipsitt, of Brown University. Psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his 1952 book, Synchronicity, that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".[1]

Some natural aptronyms are to be expected as an outgrowth of occupational names in the Middle Ages. Names like Butcher, Baker, Carter, and Chandler fall into this category.[2]

Fictional examples of aptronyms include Mr. Talkative and Mr. Worldly Wiseman in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), Truman Burbank (true-man), the lead character in the 1998 film The Truman Show, the principal cast of the Mr. Men (1971) book series, and all the characters in Marc Blitzstein's 1937 play The Cradle Will Rock.

Notable examples[edit]


Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post[2]. A notable example is the former Archbishop of Manila, Jaime L. Sin who in 1976 was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, thus becoming known as "Cardinal Sin".

Place names can also be aptronyms, perhaps unintentionally, such as the former Liberty Jail, so called because of its location in Liberty, Missouri, USA. Business names can be aptronyms too, such as Brownie Septic Systems (now Brownie Environmental Services) of Orlando, Florida, named after the owner.[2]

In other languages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "When the name fits the job" BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b Lundin, Leigh (5 January 2014). "What's in a Name?". Aptonyms. Orlando: SleuthSayers. 
  3. ^ http://www.urologyteam.com/node/2
  4. ^ "Elie During Curriculum Vitae". CIEPFC. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to ‘quitter’ Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "About". Shady Grove Podiatry. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings". NBC Sports. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 28 Mar 2012. 
  8. ^ "Louise Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Dr. Elizabeth C. Unk, MD". Health Grades. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Worthington Dr. Indicted for Hitting Bicyclist While Driving Drunk". Fox 28. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Worthington Doctor Charged For Allegedly Driving While Drunk, Striking Bicyclist". 10TV.com. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan. "Dr. Unk Accused of Striking Cyclist While Driving Drunk". Gawker. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Emily Wines". The Court of Master Sommeliers. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Lattman, Peter (3 May 2006). "Law Blog Lawyer of the Day: Sullivan & Cromwell's Sue Yoo!". The Wall Street Journal. 
  15. ^ "Judge Laughs at Man Whose Last Name is Cocaine". 
  16. ^ [1]


  • "aptronym". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  • Dickson, Paul. What's in a Name? Reflections of an Irrepressible Name Collector. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996. ISBN 0-87779-613-0

External links[edit]