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Jobs reflecting names (nominative determinism, or aptonyms)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
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New Scientist magazine coined the terms "nominative determinism" or "aptonyms" to describe the phenomenon of people whose names reflect their jobs - or rather, who end up working in areas that reflect their names (hence the "determinism"!).

An example might be a plumber called Pipe. Real life instances abound.

A great one recently included in New Scientist's 12 February 2005 Feedback section: the noise and vibrations engineer for the Queensland Electricity Commission, Australia used to be someone called Ron Rumble.

Ones I've come across myself - there's a finance director called Stephen Purse. And an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) warden called Partridge.

Added on 17 February 2005: In London there's a dentist called Blood-Smyth. And a surgeon named Hack! More of a homonym for an almost aptonym, but have you heard of the sexologist and author whose surname is Heiman?

Contributions from others to add to the list would be welcome, and will be duly credited - just email me (link in the footer) or post a comment!

Update: for more examples of nominative determinism see

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9 Comment(s):

When I was young enough to be dragged to church by my parents, the pastor there was named Reverend Lord.

(By Anonymous, at Thursday, June 16, 2005 8:48:00 PM)  Edit Comment

Good lord, no!

(By Improbulus, at Sunday, July 03, 2005 6:56:00 PM)  Edit Comment

I know a Gynecologist whose name is Dr. Fred S. Grabiner. I kid you not.

(By thepsychicpilot, at Monday, September 12, 2005 2:45:00 AM)  Edit Comment

That's hilarious, psychic pilot! Wouldn't go to him, I don't think...

(By Improbulus, at Friday, September 23, 2005 10:29:00 PM)  Edit Comment

There's a cosmetic surgeon in America called Dr. Alter.

(By john_hurt, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 1:46:00 AM)  Edit Comment

One of the most obvious is music director of the Berliner Philharmoniker Simon Rattle.
Another one, and this might be the opposite of what you're talking about is Cardinal Jaime Sin of the philipines....Cardinal Sin.

(By Jim, at Wednesday, December 20, 2006 2:50:00 PM)  Edit Comment

Indeed, Jim, Though hopefuly the Berliner Philharmoniker (I like that, "moniker"!) make a better sound than a rattle...

I thought I'd seen a word coined for doing the opposite of your name, like your Cardinal Sin example (though I love the combo of "Cardinal" and "Sin" making up that standard phrase too). I saw it in New Scientist. But I really can't remember what it is! Though I do recall another term New Scientist suggested for "nominative determinism" is "axionyms" or "axionymy" (rather than the more common "aptonym" or "aptronym").

Anti-aptronym? Anti-aptonym?

(By Improbulus, at Saturday, December 23, 2006 10:58:00 AM)  Edit Comment

The new weather chick in Chicago on Fox is Amy Freeze; her first day on the job it was like 15 below 0...

(By Anonymous, at Tuesday, March 20, 2007 7:58:00 PM)  Edit Comment

Thanks anon, great one, very apt indeed - both the name and the circumstances!

(By Improbulus, at Wednesday, March 21, 2007 10:22:00 PM)  Edit Comment

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