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


Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post.[17] 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".[4]

See also


  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. ^ 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. ^ Berman, Laura (September 6, 2017). "Starbucks Adds Fittingly Named Rosalind Brewer, Sam's Club Veteran, as COO". The Street. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  7. ^ Noah, Timothy (May 17, 2006). "Wayne Schmuck, Used-Car Distributor". Slate. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  8. ^ Wilton, David (2008). Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University Press. p. 138. 
  9. ^ Topaz, Jonathan (24 June 2014). "Stephen Colbert to 'quitter' Jay Carney: Man up!". Politico. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Johnston, Philip (2013-08-02). "Farewell to a doughty champion of liberty and the public interest". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-01-06. 
  11. ^ a b c Johnson, Theodore R. (14 March 2016). "Do Our Names Shape Our Destinies? Trump's Might". Slate. 
  12. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (2003-05-25). "A Player Called 'Money' Wins World Poker Title". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-06. 
  13. ^ 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. Bernard Malamud: A Centennial Tribute. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814341148. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  14. ^ Elster, Charles Harrington (2005). What in the Word?. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. p. 109. 
  15. ^ Wordsworth, William (1876). Alexander B. Grosart, ed. The Prose Works of William Wordsworth. London: Edward Moxon, Son and Co. p. 21. 
  16. ^ Swartz, Richard G. (1992). "Wordsworth, Copyright, and the Commodities of Genius". Modern Philology. 89 (4): 482–509. JSTOR 438162. 
  17. ^ Gene Weingarten (July 18, 2006). "Chatological Humor* (UPDATED 7.21.06)". Washington Post. 
  18. ^ "ZZ Top Drummer Frank Beard Finally Grows One". 103.7 The Hawk. Retrieved 2018-01-06. 
  19. ^ Clarke, Norma (28 December 2014). "Samuel Foote, the one-legged wonder". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "6 Biggest Goons In Buffalo Sabres' History". Rant Sports. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 

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