Don't be such a Gloomy Gus
July 17, 2010 1:21 AM   Subscribe

Is there a word for "Debbie Downer", "Nervous Nelson", and similar labels?

For some reason, I really enjoy these phrases (feel free to list some!), but it's always bothered me that I can't lump these into a category. If no such label exists, what would be a close approximation?

Thanks Metafilter!
posted by fleeba to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Named archetypes? (From the link: nervous Nellie, Johnny-come-lately, Johnny-on-the-spot, Jack of all trades, big Bertha, plain Jane, smart Alec, hill-billy, good-time Charlie, Joe Cool, dumb Dora, Jack-the-lad, handy Andy, Charlie church, simple Simon, peeping Tom, and chatty Cathy.) Better than eponym, I think.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:28 AM on July 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

posted by trondant at 1:33 AM on July 17, 2010

For names where all the words begin with the same letter, Alliteration.
posted by Fen at 3:03 AM on July 17, 2010

Even Steven
Susie Sunshine
posted by Ike_Arumba at 3:55 AM on July 17, 2010

There's also all of Roger Hargreaves' characters from his books for children, specifically the Mr. Men and Little Miss collections. Not exactly the same alliterative-adjective combination.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:50 AM on July 17, 2010

Some particular sort of personification?
posted by XMLicious at 6:27 AM on July 17, 2010

The ones that you list are alliterated.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:21 AM on July 17, 2010

It's a small distinction, but alliteration is when words begin with the same sound, not the same letter.

'Camel Kid' is alliterative, but 'Camel Circle' is not.
posted by box at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2010

Best answer: Maybe epithet is what you are looking for?
posted by pickypicky at 11:51 AM on July 17, 2010

Also check out the wiki for placeholder name, esp. the "People" section.

Also: J. Random Hacker
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:50 PM on July 17, 2010

Response by poster: D'oh! Sorry it took so long to respond. Thanks for all of the responses and...epithets!

@MonkeyToes: "Named archetype" would also work, but it doesn't look like anyone else recognizes it. Great list too.

@Civil_Disobedient: Thanks for the links -- I'd completely forgotten the names of those books!

@pickypicky: "Epithet" seems to fit! Thanks!
posted by fleeba at 2:23 AM on July 31, 2010

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