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Aptronym, aptonym or euonym are rarely-encountered neologisms for the concept of nominative determinism, used for a personal name aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner; essentially, when someone's name describes what they are or what they do.[1]

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 book Synchronicity that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".[2]

Notable examples[edit]


Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post.[11] A notable example is the former Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Sin who in 1976 was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, thus becoming known as "Cardinal Sin".

Place-names can also be aptronyms or inaptronyms, 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.[15]

Aptronyms in other languages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The term aptronym was allegedly coined by the American newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams, by an anagrammatic reordering of the first letters of patronym (to suggest apt) [...]. Both aptronym and the synonymous euonym are rarely encountered." "aptronym". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-19.  According to Frank Nuessel, in The Study of Names (1992), an aptonym is the term used for "people whose names and occupations or situations (e.g., workplace) have a close correspondence."
  2. ^ "When the name fits the job" BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  3. ^ http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150520005475/en/Nintendo-America-Hires-Bowser-VP-Sales
  4. ^ "George de Forest Brush – American Master (1855-1941)". Monadnock Art. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  5. ^ http://www.urologyteam.com/node/2
  6. ^ "Elie During Curriculum Vitae". CIEPFC. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to ‘quitter’ Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings". NBC Sports. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 28 Mar 2012. 
  9. ^ Wordsworth, WIlliam. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. Ed. Alexander B. Grosart. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co., 1876, p. 21.
  10. ^ Swartz, Richard G. "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius." Modern Philology 89.4 (1992): 482-509. JSTOR. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  11. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/07/11/DI2006071100616.html
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "In name game, Loser wins and brother Winner loses". 
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Lundin, Leigh (5 January 2014). "What's in a Name?". Aptonyms. Orlando: SleuthSayers. 
  16. ^ http://www.ptvonline.it/uo_urologia.asp


  • 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]