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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.[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]

Notable examples[edit]


Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post.[16] 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.[20]

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. ^ 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. ^ "Allan Argue". 
  6. ^ "Jack Armstrong". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "George de Forest Brush – American Master (1855-1941)". Monadnock Art. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Dr. Richard Chopp". The Urology Team, P.A. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  9. ^ "Elie During, Professor of Philosophy at The European Graduate School / EGS.". The European Graduate School. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to ‘quitter’ Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings". NBC Sports. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 28 Mar 2012. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Wordsworth, WIlliam. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. Ed. Alexander B. Grosart. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co., 1876, p. 21.
  14. ^ Swartz, Richard G. "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius." Modern Philology 89.4 (1992): 482-509. JSTOR. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  15. ^ http://www.wheatkings.com/roster/bio/108521
  16. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/07/11/DI2006071100616.html
  17. ^ Clarke, Norma (28 December 2014). "Samuel Foote, the one-legged wonder". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Gardiner, Sean (31 July 2002). "In name game, Loser wins and brother Winner loses". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "6 Biggest Goons In Buffalo Sabres’ History". Rant Sports. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  20. ^ Lundin, Leigh (5 January 2014). "What's in a Name?". Aptonyms. Orlando: SleuthSayers. 
  21. ^ "U.O.C. Urologia Dipartimento di Chirurgia". Fondazione PTV - Policlinico Tor Vergata (in Italian). Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Goldfield, Barbara (27 January 2014). "Vespasian’s Legacy". ItalianNotebook. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 

External links[edit]