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".
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.
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.
- Jules Angst, German professor of psychiatry, who has published works about anxiety
- Jack Armstrong, retired MLB (Major League Baseball) pitcher
- Jeff Bagwell, retired MLB firstbaseman
- Colin Bass, British bassist in the rock band Camel
- Chip Beck, professional golfer
- Sara Blizzard, meteorologist (television weather presenter) for the BBC
- Lorena Bobbitt, arrested for "bobbing" her husband's penis
- Russell Brain, neurologist
- Marc Breedlove, neuropsychologist involved in experimentally modifying the prenatal environment in rats to produce female rats who exhibit male sexual behavior (mounting), and male rats who exhibit female sexual behavior (lordosis)
- John Carbon, American organic chemist, biochemist, and molecular biologist
- Novella Carpenter, author
- Dr. Richard Chopp, urologist known for performing vasectomies
- Rich Coleman, British Columbia's Minister of Energy and Mines
- Chuck Close, American artist most well known for his lifelike, close-up paintings of people's faces
- Christopher Coke, Jamaican drug lord
- Barry Commoner, Citizens Party candidate for President in 1980. (The liberal Citizens Party focused on the rights of "common people"—in other words, average citizens.)
- Reggie Corner, cornerback for the Buffalo Bills
- Thomas Crapper, manufacturer of Victorian toilets. (Note that the word crap predates Mr. Crapper.)
- Mansfield Smith-Cumming, advocated the use of semen as invisible ink
- Creflo Dollar, American minister and advocate of prosperity theology. Also criticized for his extravagant lifestyle.
- Paddy Driver, former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and race car driver
- Tim Duncan, F/C of the San Antonio Spurs, who often dunks the ball
- Elie During, professor of philosophy, working on issues of temporality
- Nicholas Economides, professor of economics, New York University, Stern School of Business
- Rich Fairbank, founder and CEO of Capital One Financial Corp.
- Storm Field, meteorologist
- Cecil Fielder and son Prince Fielder, baseball players
- Bob Flowerdew, gardener and Gardeners' Question Time panelist
- Martyn Fogg, an expert on the atmosphere of Mars
- Ronald A. Footer, DPM, podiatrist
- Allen Forward, rugby forward
- Yekaterina Gamova, Russian volleyball player whose nickname is "game over"
- States Rights Gist, Confederate Army brigadier general
- Go Seigen, considered the greatest modern Go champion (the Go Master)
- Eiichi Goto, computer scientist (goto or "go to" is a common piece of code in many programming languages)
- Learned Hand, judge
- William Headline, bureau chief for CNN
- Jim Horn, saxophonist and woodwind player
- Chip Jett, professional poker player
- Igor Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
- Lateef Kayode, boxer, a knockout is often abbreviated KO, and is used as a verb after abbreviation as "Kay-Ohhed"
- Chuck Long, former NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams
- Ryan Longwell, NFL placekicker who holds the record for longest field goal in Green Bay Packers history
- Mildred and Richard Loving, interracial couple who challenged miscegenation laws in a landmark American Supreme Court case
- Bernie Madoff, who made off with a lot of other people's investment money
- John W. Marshall, former United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia
- George McGovern, former South Dakota politician and presidential candidate
- Jim McGovern, Scottish politician
- Bill Medley, American singer
- Chris Moneymaker, 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion
- Josh Outman, Oakland Athletics pitcher
- James Cash Penney, businessman, entrepreneur, retailer
- J. P. Pickens, musician, writer, banjo and guitar player
- Michael Pollan, gardener, botanist, investigative journalist
- John Henry Poynting, physicist who invented the Poynting vector which specifies the direction and magnitude of electromagnetic energy flux, i.e., "points" in the direction energy is traveling
- Francine Prose, writer
- Dallas Raines, chief meteorologist at KABC-TV in Los Angeles, California
- Charles Reade, English novelist
- Bob Rock, rock music producer, including Metallica and Bon Jovi
- Philander Rodman, father of Dennis Rodman and 28 to 46 other children
- James Roe, Paralympic rower
- Richard Seed, a scientist who has attempted human cloning.
- Mark Shuttleworth, a space tourist and first South African in space.
- Tod Slaughter, actor known for playing killers and maniacs in early melodramas
- Richard Smalley, Rice University pioneer in nanotechnology
- Anna Smashnova, professional tennis player
- Larry Speakes, presidential spokesman under President Ronald Reagan
- Lake Speed, former NASCAR driver
- Scott Speed, NASCAR driver, formerly in Formula One, GP2, and A1GP
- Marina Stepanova, former Soviet hurdler, first woman to run under 53 seconds in the 400 m hurdles
- Louise Story, a reporter for the New York Times
- Douglas ("D.") Terman, author of several Choose Your Own Adventure books, where the user determines the ending
- Eugène Terre'Blanche, South African white nationalist (Terre'Blanche is French for "white land" and Eugene means "born well", compare eugenics)
- Willie Thrower, former NFL quarterback; first African-American quarterback in NFL during modern era
- John Tory, former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (Tories)
- Tommy Tune, Broadway singer, dancer, and choreographer
- Dr. Unk, Ohio doctor. Elizabeth Unk convicted for drunk driving.
- Marilyn vos Savant, a columnist famous for her extremely high IQ and penchant for puzzle solving
- Rick Wagoner, former CEO of General Motors
- Anthony Weiner, U.S. Congressman embarrassed in a 2011 sex-scandal by a self-taken snapshot of a closeup of his underpants. ('Weiner' can be a slang term for a man's penis.)
- Arsène Wenger, manager of Arsenal FC in the Premier League
- Sam Whitelock, New Zealand Rugby Union player whose name reflects his race and position
- Emily Wines, a master sommelier
- Early Wynn, baseball pitcher; recorded two wins in Opening Day games for the Cleveland Indians (1952, 1954) and two no-decision Opening Day games for the Chicago White Sox that resulted in wins (1960, 1961)
- Sue Yoo, lawyer 
Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post. 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".
- Lance Armstrong, a Tour de France-winning cyclist, became famous because of leg, not arm, strength.
- John Balance, English musician, died after falling from a two story balcony at his home.
- Grant Balfour, MLB pitcher (closer), although as a pitcher ball four is generally not a good thing
- Frank Beard, the only member of ZZ Top to not have a beard
- Don Black, White supremacist
- Peter Bowler, cricketer (in fact, primarily a batsman)
- Edward Cocaine, arrested on drug possession, but for Xanax
- Samuel Foote, a comic actor who lost a leg in a horseriding accident in 1766, and made jokes on stage about “Foote and leg, and leg and foot”
- Dexter Fowler, MLB outfielder (a batter can't get a hit if all he hits are foul balls)
- Hudson Freeze, co-discoverer of Thermus aquaticus, a bacteria that thrives in hot water
- Teller (magician), the usually silent half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller
- Two anti-Christian black metal musicians, Gaahl and Varg Vikernes were given the name Kristian at birth.
- Bob Walk, retired MLB pitcher
- Taijuan Walker, MLB pitcher
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.
In other languages
- Georges-Eugène Haussmann, architect of much of modern Paris; "Haussmann" means "house man"
- Akihiko Hoshide, Japanese astronaut; "Hoshide" means "go out to the stars"
- Thierry Le Luron, comedian; "Luron" means "prankster"
- Abdullah Öcalan, founder of a Kurdish militant group; "Öcalan" means "avenger"
- Jérémy Pied, soccer player; "Pied" means "foot"
- "When the name fits the job" BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Lundin, Leigh (5 January 2014). "What's in a Name?". Aptonyms. Orlando: SleuthSayers.
- "Elie During Curriculum Vitae". CIEPFC. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- "About". Shady Grove Podiatry. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings". NBC Sports. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 28 Mar 2012.
- "Louise Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Dr. Elizabeth C. Unk, MD". Health Grades. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Worthington Dr. Indicted for Hitting Bicyclist While Driving Drunk". Fox 28. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Worthington Doctor Charged For Allegedly Driving While Drunk, Striking Bicyclist". 10TV.com. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Zimmerman, Neetzan. "Dr. Unk Accused of Striking Cyclist While Driving Drunk". Gawker. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "Emily Wines". The Court of Master Sommeliers. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Lattman, Peter (3 May 2006). "Law Blog Lawyer of the Day: Sullivan & Cromwell's Sue Yoo!". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Judge Laughs at Man Whose Last Name is Cocaine".
- "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
- Aptonyms-wiki was Canadian Aptonym Centre
- "Charol Shakeshaft, Topped!", a list of reader-submitted aptronyms by Slate's Timothy Noah
- Article about Zimbabwean English naming conventions
- Car Talk Fictional Show Credits from the radio show Car Talk
- Lists of real and fictional aptonyms and occupational names