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An aptronym, aptonym or euonym is a personal name aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner.


The Encyclopædia Britannica attributes the term to Franklin P. Adams, a writer who coined it as an anagram of patronym, to emphasize "apt".[1]

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."

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.[2] Psychologist Carl Jung wrote in his book Synchronicity that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".[3]

Nominative determinism is a hypothesis which suggests a causal relationship based on the idea that people tend to be attracted to areas of work that fit their name.

Notable examples[edit]


Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "aptronym". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2008.
  2. ^ Dickson, Paul (1996). What's in a Name? Reflections of an Irrepressible Name Collector. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster. ISBN 0-87779-613-0.
  3. ^ "When the name fits the job" BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Nunn, Gary. "Reckless by name, reckless by nature? (But at least he's not called Rich White)".
  5. ^ a b c d Maxwell, Kerry (4 March 2008). "BuzzWord: Aptronym". MacMillan Dictionary.
  6. ^ Holley, Shawn. "20 20 Smart Lists".
  7. ^ Nordquist, Richard. "Aptronym - Definitions and Examples in English".
  8. ^ Lyn Pesce, Nicole (22 February 2019). "Doug Bowser & Other People Whose Names Perfectly Fit Their Jobs". Marketwatch.com. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  9. ^ Christian, Brian (2011). The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive. DoubledayC.
  10. ^ Berman, Laura (6 September 2017). "Starbucks Adds Fittingly Named Rosalind Brewer, Sam's Club Veteran, as COO". The Street. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  11. ^ Noah, Timothy (17 May 2006). "Wayne Schmuck, Used-Car Distributor". Slate. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  12. ^ Haberman, Clyde (1 September 2011). ""When a Person's Name Means What It Says"". New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  13. ^ Wilton, David (2008). Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University Press. p. 137.
  14. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to 'quitter' Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  15. ^ Love, Jordan. "Famous People with Literal Names".
  16. ^ a b Johnson, Theodore R. (14 March 2016). "Do Our Names Shape Our Destinies? Trump's Might". Slate.
  17. ^ Johnston, Philip (2 August 2013). "Farewell to a doughty champion of liberty and the public interest". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  18. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (25 May 2003). "A Player Called 'Money' Wins World Poker Title". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  19. ^ Having the right name at the right, or sometimes wrong, time Reuters
  20. ^ Sánchez Canales, Gustavo (2016). ""What's in a Name?": Aptronyms and Archetypes in Bernard Malamud's The Assistant and The Fixer". In Aarons, Victoria; Sánchez Canales, Gustavo (eds.). Bernard Malamud: A Centennial Tribute. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814341148. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  21. ^ Elster, Charles Harrington (2005). What in the Word?. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. p. 109.
  22. ^ Sawyer, Robert J. (2012). Triggers. New York: Ace Books. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-937007-16-4. Or Larry Speakes," said Eric... "He was the White House spokesman for Ronald Reagan." She smiled. "Exactly. There's a name for that. It's called ... nominative determinism.
  23. ^ Wordsworth, William (1876). Alexander B. Grosart (ed.). The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co. p. 21.
  24. ^ Swartz, Richard G. (1992). "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius". Modern Philology. 89 (4): 482–509. JSTOR 438162.
  25. ^ Lederer, Richard (2012). Amazing Words: An Alphabetical Anthology of Alluring, Astonishing, Astounding, Bedazzling, Beguiling, Bewitching, Enchanting, Enthralling, Entrancing, Magical, Mesmerizing, Miraculous, Tantalizing, Tempting, and Transfixing Words. Marion Street Press, LLC.
  26. ^ Gene Weingarten (18 July 2006). "Chatological Humor* (UPDATED 7.21.06)". Washington Post.
  27. ^ Josh Outman? Not Quite Andrew Kahn
  28. ^ "ZZ Top Drummer Frank Beard Finally Grows One". 103.7 The Hawk. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  29. ^ Clarke, Norma (28 December 2014). "Samuel Foote, the one-legged wonder". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  30. ^ "Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor President, Has Most Ironic Name Ever". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  31. ^ "Q&A with new Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw". Fox 12 Oregon. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  32. ^ "6 Biggest Goons In Buffalo Sabres' History". Rant Sports. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2015.

External links[edit]