you are your surname
January 31, 2008 11:17 AM   Subscribe

What is the term for when a last name is oddly appropriate for a person?

Mostly occupation-related. Like -- Aaron Deacon works in the church, or Jack Swift is a track and field star.

I'm not asking for a similar, but related, phenomenon where someone's surname (say, Archer, Baker, or Taylor) is an ages-old derivation of an actual occupation. I'm referring to the coincidence of a person's last name relating to something that person does, or some part of their personality, or -- anything, really, having to do strongly with that person.

(We have an IT manager named Dusty Broome, but that's more just a funny name and would not fit in this category, unless Dusty were a janitor instead of the IT guy. We also have a Dee Cupp at work, which is just cruel, and irrelevant to this conversation -- unless she worked at a high-end european lingerie boutique.)

There's an official term for this, and i read a short stub on it in wikipedia once, and i wanted to make a running list of these names (I see them all the time and crack up!).
posted by milkdropcoronet to Writing & Language (62 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know the term for this, but my eye doctor's last name is "Docktor."
posted by BradNelson at 11:20 AM on January 31, 2008


I believe you're thinking of an aptronym. See also nominative determinism.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:22 AM on January 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


As a chatty aside for your list, my dental surgeon for my wisdom teeth was Dr. Fear. There was another dentist in town named Dr. Payne, and I always hoped they'd open a practice together.
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 AM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thank you Johnny! God i love the hivemind.

I was watching an amazing TED video on bonobo primate research, and the researcher hanging out with them in the jungle, recording all their human-like qualities, was named Susan Savage(-Rumbaugh). Ha!
posted by milkdropcoronet at 11:26 AM on January 31, 2008


I don't mind the chatty asides, in fact that's why I was looking for the name of this phenomenon. so we can aggregate all the funny examples and... giggle... like how i feel looking at kittens on cute overload.
posted by milkdropcoronet at 11:27 AM on January 31, 2008


Didn't someone here get a vas from a dr named Dick Chopp?
posted by pieoverdone at 11:40 AM on January 31, 2008


I once had a dentist whose last name was "Carrier" (= caries). That's the opposite of aptronym. I can't believe he survived medical school. He was good though.
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:42 AM on January 31, 2008


What would the opposite of aptronym be then? I have an uncle who's well over six foot, but his nickname is "shorty".
posted by sanka at 11:47 AM on January 31, 2008


I knew a Dr Cleaver, an orthopaedic surgeon who was sued a couple of times for various botch jobs on people's bones.
posted by goo at 11:48 AM on January 31, 2008


When I was a kid, I had a dentist named Dr. Needelman, who shared an office with Dr. Hertzberg
posted by rottytooth at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2008


>What would the opposite of aptronym be then?

Inaptronym?
posted by ROTFL at 11:52 AM on January 31, 2008


I love these. Like an attorney named Sue Yoo.

But my favorite of all time... without a doubt... is a British Urologist:

Mr. Nicholas Burns-Cox

posted by dios at 11:52 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I kid not, my friend knew a slutty girl in high school named Jenna Tillya. WHY wouldn't you go by Jennifer?
posted by JimmyJames at 11:57 AM on January 31, 2008


I try not to make fun of other people's names for obvious reasons. But some years ago I did meet an Australian guy called Wayne Carr in Sumatra .
posted by Dan Brilliant at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2008


My dentist's name was Dr. Kaake (pronounced "cake"). What is it with dentists and names?
posted by flod logic at 12:05 PM on January 31, 2008


My pediatrician's name was Dr. Organ. *giggle*
posted by chara at 12:07 PM on January 31, 2008


klangklangston, perhaps you've heard of this law firm?
posted by The World Famous at 12:16 PM on January 31, 2008


What about first names?

The men I've met named Neil seem to be meek. Do you think having a first name which is pronounced like kneel, meaning to fall or rest on the knees, can lead to a passive person? I guess the answer will be mostly confirmation bias but I think there's a bit more to it. Armstrong and Diamond are anomalies.
posted by spork at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2008


According to my birth certificate, I was delivered by Dr. Bloodgood. Perhaps it was a joke.
posted by Gucky at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2008


eponysterical!
posted by loiseau at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2008


The surgeon who gave me my vasectomy was Dr. Stopp. He was famous in Rochester, NY.
posted by tommasz at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2008


An old girlfriend of mine had a gynecologist named Dr. Arm. I'm still sort of haunted by the implied imagery there.
posted by Skot at 12:40 PM on January 31, 2008


My dad's childhood dentist (or dermitologist, I can't remember, and one of them was a drunk). Anyway: Dr: Jackle.
posted by sully75 at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2008


My old pediatrician was Doctor Boguslaw. I used to wonder how he felt about malpractice suits.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2008


I had a dentist named Dr. Flynch.

I'm kinda sad this phenomenon already has a name, because I was going to suggest calling it "names like bond girls" but aptronym works too...
posted by jrishel at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2008


May I introduce Dr Katz, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Kindness Animal Hospital.
posted by grateful at 12:54 PM on January 31, 2008


I went to a university with a farm girl called Iona Gunn. No joke.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:58 PM on January 31, 2008


Don't forget Baron Brain (aka Lord Brain), the famous British neurologist.

I used to go past a sign every day for years in Seattle's U-district saying 'Dr. Carey, Dentist'.
posted by jamjam at 1:02 PM on January 31, 2008


My dentist's name is Dr. Gumm. My last one was named Dr. Marrow. And once I had a veterinarian named Dr. Bone.

For an anti-aptronym, my high school principal's name was Mr. Craven, but he used to be in the military police and would tell us crazy stories about 'Nam.
posted by jbrjake at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2008


I had a 16 hour surgery that required a team of doctors a few years back. As I was coming out of anaesthesia after a long snooze in ICU, two were on hand to check on my progress. I was very woozy during the introductions, which I thought was, "I'm Dr. Sex and this is Dr. Harmony." I was really not sure if I'd made it out alive, and thought that the whole afterlife thing might be just fine. Later, when I was coherent, I noticed their tags -- Dr. Sachs and Dr. Carmody.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:11 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


My sports teacher at school was Mr. Rocky.
I also had woodwork lessons with Mr. Allen.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2008


In Fairfax VA there is a now retired OB/GYN with the name Harry Beaver.
posted by COD at 1:18 PM on January 31, 2008


My wife had an anesthesiologist named Dr Pillow once.
posted by adamrice at 1:18 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


here's a good example.
posted by krautland at 1:21 PM on January 31, 2008


My former dentist: Chip Silvertooth.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:21 PM on January 31, 2008


I or members of my immediate family have had appointments with Dr. Butt a proctologist, Dr. Cant a urologist, and Dr. Bridger a prosthodondist . I swear!
posted by Neiltupper at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2008


I know someone who works in dining services at a university named Lena Pancake.
posted by davidstandaford at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2008


My husband went to school with Peter and Alan Nuss. Not so much a problem until they use their initials with their surname. I can't imagine what they do for a living.
posted by b33j at 1:45 PM on January 31, 2008


I wanted desperately to have an example to contribute, but I don't, so I'm just sitting here giggling.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2008


My PE teacher in elementary school was Mrs. Sweat.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2008


One more funny Dentist name:

Dr. Daniel Hack
posted by Ike_Arumba at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2008


Nobody's brought up "eponysterical" as an alernative?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 1:57 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, one more: There's a doctor of Neurology in Japan named Dr. Ouchi.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2008


My childhood dentist was Dr. Chu. My friend's was Dr. Gum.
posted by agentofselection at 2:15 PM on January 31, 2008


Bickerman Dispute Resolution
posted by Joe Invisible at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2008


I know a drummer named Billy Klock. He's pretty good, too.
posted by Camofrog at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2008


oh i forgot -- when we were picking up an impounded car from the local police department, i saw a framed portrait of Officer Patricia Weed! Officer Weed! LOL
posted by milkdropcoronet at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2008


A dentist in my town went by his initials and last name. E.Z. Filler.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:48 PM on January 31, 2008


That's hilarious...I've known about Bickerman's practice for years without noticing the aptronym.

I had a elementary school substitute teacher named Ms. Gross. Poor thing.
posted by equipoise at 2:59 PM on January 31, 2008


Oh, I knew a finance officer called Ms Pennymoney.
posted by b33j at 3:09 PM on January 31, 2008


A family member's rectal surgeon was Dr. Butts. When asked, he said, "With a name like Butts, what choice did I have?" His brother was also a rectal surgeon, I think.
posted by katemonster at 3:22 PM on January 31, 2008


dios, I don't know how you found that link, but I went to school with Sue. When I heard she was going to law school I just about died.
posted by lackutrol at 4:22 PM on January 31, 2008


I once interviewed a police office named Sgt. Slaughter.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:25 PM on January 31, 2008


My mother's dermatologist was Dr. Sickley, which I guess was an inaptonym?
And then, for inaptonyms, there's always Cardinal Sin.


Meanwhile, there was a funeral home near my home town named Blood and Wolfe, which I thought was morbidly apt.
posted by lleachie at 4:29 PM on January 31, 2008


What is it with dentists and names?

Seriously! I have been patients of both Dr. Achey and Dr. Brace. My friend's dentist was Dr. Pain (he apparantly went by Dr P.)
posted by jpdoane at 5:02 PM on January 31, 2008


There used to be a funeral parlor in my town founded by the Coldflesch family. Also, there's a general contractor not far from here named B.F. Gotwals.
posted by chihiro at 5:12 PM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, that's weird about the dentists. My old dentist's name was D. K. Plackfeiter, he worked with hygienists named Carrie Floss and Liz Tereen, and their office manager was Joseph Yourdentalplanwontcoverthat.

Okay, fine, his name was Dr. Moore. And his first name was something utterly non-punny too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:21 PM on January 31, 2008


My brother in law was a Col in the USArmy...one of his men was Major John Major.

Dad's urologist, Dr. Bender
posted by legotech at 6:32 PM on January 31, 2008


lackutrol, you went to school with Sue You, not Sue Yoo. Sue You is a lawyer, too, though.
posted by mds35 at 6:59 PM on January 31, 2008


Lord Brain has long been my favorite. I have a copy of his 1955 textbook on clinical neurology.

I knew a Dr. Blood, but he was a cardiologist, not a hematologist. Dr. Bone was an orthopedist.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:32 PM on January 31, 2008


Hamilton County (Ohio) Auditor is named Dusty Rhodes. Made me laugh every time I saw his sticker on the gas pumps.
posted by orchidarea at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2008


A friend of mine is called Schoolmeesters (Teachers) and is indeed a teacher. In every job interview, hilariously original comments by principals garantueed.
posted by lioness at 5:06 AM on February 3, 2008


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