What is an Aptonym?


According to linguist Frank Nuessel (see The Study of Names), an aptonym is the term used for "people whose names and occupations or situations (e.g., workplace) have a close correspondence." The name "aptonym" is a compound word which consists of the adjective "apt" (from Latin via Middle English) meaning "exactly suitable, or appropriate". The second part of this word comes from the Greek "onuma" ('name').

An alternate term is aptronym, attributed to Franklin P. Adams, as discussed in the book, What's In a Name, by Paul Dickson. In Chapter 4, he writes "I have held with aptronyms as the name for this phenomenon rather than aptonyms, which is favoured by a number of newspaper columnists who collect them. Professor Lewis P. Lipsitt of Brown University wrote to Dickson: "I might also mention that I have a very large collection of instances where persons' names and either their occupations or preoccupations are in synchrony." Bob Levey, who writes fairly regular Washington Post columns on the phenomenon, calls them PFLNs, or Perfect Fit Last Names.

The full alphabetical list of aptonyms is available via the menu bar at the left.


Some Actual Examples

David Bird
Ornithologist
Nita House
Real estate agent
Scott Constable
Policeman
Helen Painter
Artist
Raymond Strike
Union leader
Sonia Shears
Hairdresser
Dr. Knapp
Anesthesiologist
Jim Playfair
Hockey coach
Chad Hacker Jr
IT Professional

The origin of this wiki is the Canadian Aptonym Centre, which is no longer on the Internet. Many thanks to all the contributors who greatly expanded the list. (DC, 2010-12-04)