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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 examplesEdit


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

See alsoEdit


  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". 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.

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