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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.[46]

See also[edit]

  • -onym
  • Nominative determinism, the theory that a person's name can have a significant role in determining key aspects of their job, profession or even character


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  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. ^ Colls, Tom (20 December 2011). "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 e Maxwell, Kerry (4 March 2008). "BuzzWord: Aptronym". MacMillan Dictionary.
  6. ^ Holley, Shawn (15 May 2020). "20 20 Smart Lists". ISBN 9781635684766.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (2009). Only in New York: An Exploration of the World's Most Fascinating, Frustrating, and Irrepressible City. Fordham University Press. ISBN 9780823281084.
  8. ^ Picard, Ken (24 December 2014). "Aptronyms 2014: Are Descriptive Monikers Coincidence or Fate?". Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  9. ^ Kirsch, Noah. "Inside Tito's Vodka: How A Man Named 'Beveridge' Built A $2.5 Billion Fortune". Forbes. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  10. ^ Nordquist, Richard. "Aptronym - Definitions and Examples in English".
  11. ^ Lyn Pesce, Nicole (22 February 2019). "Doug Bowser & Other People Whose Names Perfectly Fit Their Jobs". Marketwatch.com 17 October 2019. Some people seem born into their professions. Take Doug Bowser, the incoming president of Nintendo of America, whose surname is the same as one of the videogame company’s most recognizable villains. Bowser, after all, is the evil turtle-dragon hybrid that plucky plumbers Mario and Luigi have to keep rescuing the princess from.
  12. ^ Christian, Brian (2011). The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive. DoubledayC. ISBN 9781936863310.
  13. ^ Berman, Laura (6 September 2017). "Starbucks Adds Fittingly Named Rosalind Brewer, Sam's Club Veteran, as COO". The Street. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. ^ Noah, Timothy (17 May 2006). "Wayne Schmuck, Used-Car Distributor". Slate. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  15. ^ Haberman, Clyde (1 September 2011). "When a Person's Name Means What It Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  16. ^ Swaragita, Gisela (11 March 2020). "Dr. Corona vs. coronavirus: Muhammadiyah special center fighting COVID-19 in Indonesia". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 20 March 2020. Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization has officially entered the national battle against the coronavirus by establishing the Muhammadiyah COVID-19 Command Center (MCCC) and putting an aptly named physician, Corona Rintawan, in charge.
  17. ^ Wilton, David (2008). Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University Press. p. 137. ISBN 9780195375572.
  18. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to 'quitter' Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. What a name for a press secretary. Josh Earnest. His name literally means, 'Just kidding, but seriously.'
  19. ^ "Current Mark Holders | The Fairbanking Foundation".
  20. ^ Lora Starling (11 July 2017). Identify Yourself: The Logo for Your Life. Balboa Press AU. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-1-5043-7658-7.
  21. ^ Love, Jordan. "Famous People with Literal Names".
  22. ^ "When the name fits the job". 20 December 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  23. ^ a b Johnson, Theodore R. (14 March 2016). "Do Our Names Shape Our Destinies? Trump's Might". Slate.
  24. ^ Wiseman, Lauren (23 October 2008). "WILLIAM HEADLINE: 1931 - 2008". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 September 2019. CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer said Mr. Headline was 'a decent person who understood the problems that journalists have and dealt with them in a compassionate way. As we used to say it, the best name in news.'... ...Mr. Headline, whose fitting name was Americanized by a Swedish ancestor, was born in Cleveland and raised in East Aurora, N.Y.
  25. ^ Johnston, Philip (2 August 2013). "Farewell to a doughty champion of liberty and the public interest". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  26. ^ a b Furness, Hannah (3 July 2012). "Barclays scandal: a case of nominative determinism?". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020. Likewise, Igor Judge, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and John Laws, the Lord Justice of Appeal, may have felt a calling.
  27. ^ Brennan, Patricia (31 March 1996). "MR. AND MRS. LOVING'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  28. ^ "Aptronym - The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia". www.artandpopularculture.com. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  29. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (25 May 2003). "A Player Called 'Money' Wins World Poker Title". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  30. ^ a b Goldberg, Barbara. "Having the right name at the right, or sometimes wrong, time". Reuters.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ Clinton, Jared (9 November 2018). "Top 100 Goalies: No. 32 – Jonathan Quick". SI The Hockey News. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  33. ^ "Bowser vs. Bowser: New Nintendo boss shares name with villain". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  34. ^ Mahon, Tom (20 July 2012). "Rodman's father the original worm". Philadelphia Inquirer.
  35. ^ Elster, Charles Harrington (2005). What in the Word?. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. p. 109.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "Now, That's a Proper Name". Los Angeles Times. 12 March 2006. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Speed is the name and the game". us.motorsport.com. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  39. ^ Okulski, Travis. "Ask Formula One Driver And NASCAR Racer Scott Speed Anything You Want". Jalopnik. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  40. ^ Folley, Aris (20 June 2019). "A woman named Marijuana Pepsi earns doctoral degree with dissertation on uncommon names". TheHill. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  41. ^ Scottie Andrew and Brian Ries. "She knows you think her name is different. But Dr. Marijuana Pepsi's work speaks for itself". CNN. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  42. ^ Wordsworth, William (1876). Alexander B. Grosart (ed.). The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co. p. 21.
  43. ^ Swartz, Richard G. (1992). "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius". Modern Philology. 89 (4): 482–509. doi:10.1086/392000. JSTOR 438162. S2CID 162203888.
  44. ^ 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. ISBN 9781936863310.
  45. ^ Timothy, Noah. "Aptronym Watch: Sue Yoo Too!". Slate. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  46. ^ Gene Weingarten (18 July 2006). "Chatological Humor* (UPDATED 7.21.06)". The Washington Post.
  47. ^ Kahn, Andrew (13 July 2021). "Josh Outman? Not Quite". andrewjkahn.com.
  48. ^ "ZZ Top Drummer Frank Beard Finally Grows One". 103.7 The Hawk. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  49. ^ Clarke, Norma (28 December 2014). "Samuel Foote, the one-legged wonder". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  50. ^ "Robin Mahfood, Food for the Poor President, Has Most Ironic Name Ever". HuffPost. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  51. ^ Layla A. Jones (9 January 2020). "What's in a name? From criminal to elite, the history of 'Outlaw'". Billy Penn. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  52. ^ "6 Biggest Goons in Buffalo Sabres' History". Rant Sports. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  53. ^ When the Stats Match the Name Brian Grosnick
  54. ^ "Keith Weed appointed as the new RHS President seeks to accelerate the positive impact of gardening on our lives, society and the environment". Royal Horticultural Society. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2021.

External links[edit]