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Aptronym (wikipedia.org)
38 points by wiradikusuma on Oct 24, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments

This thread along with the wiki article reads like a punster's/stand-up comic's wet dream.

Speaking of which, the next stand-up comic to adopt an aptronym (or an inaptronym) stands a great chance of being immortalized on a Wiki page, quicker than most others.I wonder if I should start trying for gigs using the stage-name Mei Q. Laffard...

Surprisingly missing - Larry Page, who invented a machine that ranks pages.

People think PageRank is an algorithm for ranking pages, but it's named after its discoverer.

I was one such person.

What did you discover/do?

Parent is saying they misconstrued PageRank as having been named for its function rather than after (one of its) coders.

This is just a fantastic list. Now one of my favorite Wikipedia lists, alongside List of Unusual Deaths.[1] I'm always shocked at how many people were crushed by elephants.


The "see also" list is worth a look...

Elephants are surprisingly easy to overlook and behave erraticly if you split their group (e.g. by carelessly driving a car between the group). It is not unusual for cars to be hit by elephants running to their mother.

Still, don't fear elephants to much: Hippos are actually dangerous as hell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippopotamus#Aggression

Hippos are possibly the most secretly dangerous animal on the planet. They look harmless because most representations of them focus on making them look fat and jolly, but their hide is as tough as a rhino, they have alligator-level power in their jaws, and they are mean. It's one of my favorite bar trivia bits to throw out: asking people what the most dangerous African animal is.

I don't know how many people are gored by an elephant and live to tell about it, but it makes one heck of a story - http://www.conradstoltz.com/index.php/the-story-of-rory/

The list of lists page[1] is a great place to dive in for a nice long Wikipedia binge.


Chris Moneymaker, the WSOP winner, is my favorite example of this.

EDIT: I wonder how many of these people were drawn to their careers by the fact that they were aptly named for the career choice. I imagine the first time Chris Moneymaker considered playing poker his name was brought up in the conversation.

I was looking for Kim Dotcom on the list, but didn't found him. Maybe it's because he actually changed his name to this, and wasn't naturally born with it. Still, he's a great example of a person having an Aptronym name.

The Way of the World, by William Congreve, is full of them: a wannabe funnyman named Witwoud, a servant called Waitwell, Lady Fainall (feign-all), Lady Wishfort (wish for it).

Comedy gold, circa 1700.

Last year was a good year for aptronyms in soccer, because not only did we have Arsene Wenger managing Arsenal, but Roberto Mancini managing Manchester City ("Man City").

It's worth noting that his name is pronounced "man-CHEE-nee", not "man-SEE-nee" (or at least that's how they pronounced it when I would watch the games last year).

Yes, but visually it works out. Though not as well as the TV graphic that reads, "Arsene Wenger: Arsenal Manager". That one is outright uncanny at a glance.

At my school we genuinely had Mrs. Eatwell, a foodtech teacher and Mr Leggett, a PE teacher. Mr Eatwell also worked at the school as a DT "teacher", and was fat.

We had a gym teacher named Mr. Bigott who got fired for a racially charged incident, no lie.

Our swimming coach in high school was named Harry Kramp. Can't make this stuff up.

There was also the guy that made jogging famous - 'Jim Fixx'. Surprised he does not get a mention:


The list of inaptronyms at the bottom are particularly hilarious, including the "former Archbishop of Manila, Jaime L. Sin, known as Cardinal Sin."

Thanks for posting this! I had read about this before, but had forgotten where. And whenever such a topic in a conversation came up, and I told people about this thing where "sometimes [there are] quite grotesque coincidence[s] between a man's name and his peculiarities" I couldn't come up with examples nor remember where I read about it.

Just curious, what is the term for the (sort of) reverse, which essentially to name your kids with famous brands?

I've seen people named Sony, Panasonic and Honda because their parents thought of some home appliances which happen to sit nearby (true story).

'Lorena Bobbit' is cheating - she is the Source of that term.

People have been "bobbing" dogs tails for a long time.

I was thinking that, too. There should be a term for when your name becomes synonomous with a thing. Like Steve Bartman or Frank Rollerblade.

...maybe, however, can anyone think of any others that gave their name to something? E.g. the Hoover family...?

Sure but it doesn't make their name eponymous but the other way around.

I was about to close the tab with quiet "meh" when I saw this: "Richard Smalley, Rice University pioneer in nanotechnology" and it made my day :)

As well as those (real) examples in the New Scientist, there's a long running fake correspondence section in Private Eye magazine, 'Pseudo Names'. Here's a typical, groanworthy example:

  In Germany, we see Pseudo Names as just a passing fancy.

  (Sent in by Brian Clifford)

'Aptonym' is the most apt word for this.

But Aptronym is an anagram for Patronym so it gets you lvl 12 candies for mixing puns.

Is "Aptronym" itself an Aptronym?

Reminds me of a neurosurgeon in Oregon named Dr. Hacker.

What's happened to "nomen omen"?

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