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An aptronym, aptonym or euonym is a personal name aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner. The Encyclopaedia 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."</ref>

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.[12] 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".

Aptronyms and Inaptronyms in place names[edit]

Place-names can also be aptronyms or inaptronyms, perhaps unintentionally.

  • Brownie Septic Systems (now Brownie Environmental Services) of Orlando, Florida, named after the owner.[17]

Aptronyms in other languages[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "aptronym". Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica Online ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  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. ^ "Speaker Biographies". International Review of Psychosis & Bipolarity. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Jack Armstrong". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Love, Jordan. "Famous People with Literal (and Hilarious) Names". 
  7. ^ "George de Forest Brush – American Master (1855–1941)". Monadnock Art. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to ‘quitter’ Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (19 November 2014). "R.A. Montgomery, 78, Dies; Published Choose Your Own Adventure Series". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  10. ^ Wordsworth, William (1876). Alexander B. Grosart, ed. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co. p. 21. 
  11. ^ Swartz, Richard G. (1992). "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius". Modern Philology (JSTOR) 89 (4): 482–509. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Gene Weingarten (July 18, 2006). "Chatological Humor* (UPDATED 7.21.06)". Washington Post. 
  13. ^ http://www.experienceproject.com/question-answer/Should-Lance-Armstrong-Change-His-Name-To-Lance-Legstrong/984169 Should Lance Armstrong change his name to Lance Legstrong?
  14. ^ Clarke, Norma (28 December 2014). "Samuel Foote, the one-legged wonder". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  15. ^ "6 Biggest Goons In Buffalo Sabres’ History". Rant Sports. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  16. ^ "Bob Walk". Baseball-Reference.com. 
  17. ^ Lundin, Leigh (5 January 2014). "What's in a Name?". Aptonyms. Orlando: SleuthSayers. 
  18. ^ Nikolina S. Uzicanin (1996). Bosnian-English, English-Bosnian Dictionary. Hippocrene Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7818-0276-5. 
  19. ^ Mangenello singualar: Pat Bulhosen; Francesca Logi; Loredana Riu (9 May 2013). Compact Oxford Italian Dictionary. OUP Oxford. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-19-966313-2. . Note: the word used to mean crossbow.

External links[edit]