Friday, 9 September 2016

Name Calling

Did you know that the police lead on knife crime at the National Police Chiefs' Council in the UK …. Is a 'Alfred Hitchcock' (apparently known as ‘Alf’) .…. So the namesake of the director of many films involving blades - famously 'psycho' with its frenzied knife killings - ends up in that particular job.

This little news snippet made me wonder if there are any other ironically suitable job holders out there.

Well, there are a lot .... and just for starters.
  • Professor 'Jules Angst', a German professor of psychiatry, who has published works about anxiety.
  • 'Colin Bass', British bassist in the rock band 'Camel'.
  • 'Sara Blizzard', meteorologist (television weather presenter) for the BBC.
Usain Bolt Is Lightening Bolt Fast ... So Well Named

This phenomena is apparently called an aptronym, aptonym or euonym. Which as you might have guessed, is when a personal name, is aptly or peculiarly suited to its owner or their occupation. The Psychologist Carl Jung, in his book 'Synchronicity' wrote that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".

He even cited the examples of fellow psychiatrist Freud (which translates as "joy"), and his pleasure principle, and his own name Jung (young), and his idea of rebirth, as potential examples of "the compulsion of the name". At the time, Jung’s lawyer was called Rosstäuscher (‘Horsetrader’), the local obstetrician was called Kalberer (‘Calver’), and the country’s food minister was a Herr Feist (‘Mr Stout’).

There is also the theory of 'Nominative Determinism', which is that some surnames drive people towards their final careers. However there is also an opposite of the aptronym, which is the 'inaptronyms', an example of which is the former Archbishop of Manila, 'Jaime Sin', who when in 1976 was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI, and thus became known as the "Cardinal Sin". Other examples are; 'Don Black', a white supremacist from the USA, and 'Peter Bowler', a cricketer (in fact, a batsman not a bowler).

Here are a few more mixed examples of these strange naming quirks:
  • 'Mark Avery', the former Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) director of conservation.
  • 'Bruno Fromage' - Managing Director of the dairy company Danone UK.
  • 'Rem Koolhaas' - a Dutch architect.
  • 'Chip Beck' - US golfer.
  • 'Mr Byrne' - county fire officer for Staffordshire in UK.
  • 'Christopher Coke' - well known Jamaican drug dealer.
  • 'Mark De Mann' - football player.
  • 'Mr Fussy' - a planning officer at Malvern Hills council.
  • 'Dr Nappy' - child welfare officer for Birmingham Council (UK).
  • 'Bob' Rock' - record producer for rock band 'Bon Jovi'.
  • 'Marina Stepnanova' - Russian hurdling champion.
  • 'William Wordsworth' - a UK poet and advocate for the extension of British copyright law.
  • 'Larry Speakes' - a former White House spokesman in the USA.
  • 'Dominique Dropsy' - A French professional soccer goalkeeper.
  • 'Rod Muddle' - an aviation planner.
  • 'Lord Judge' - a UK lawyer ('Igor Judge' was the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2008).
  • 'Bob Flowerdew' - a professional gardener (expert panellist on Gardeners’ Question Time).
  • 'JW Splatt' and 'D Weedon' - joint authors on a scientific paper on the subject of incontinence.
  • 'Mr Snowman' - author of a book on .... you guessed wrong, it wasn't Santa ... the Arctic.
  • 'Mr. Akenhead' - The chief crossword editor of The Times newspaper for many years.
  • 'Frances Crook', a chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform in the UK (even more oddly, Frances means freedom so - freeing crooks!).
  • 'Sid Weighell' (pronounced Wheel) was General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen.
  • 'Lord Brain' was a neurologist (Russell Brain (1895-1966 ~ apropos of nothing much he was also Winston Churchill’s doctor).
  • Head of the Scottish Avalanche Service is a 'Mr Diggins'.
  • 'Buzz Aldrin's' mother's maiden name was 'Marion Moon'.
  • Church of England vicar 'Reverend Michael Vickers' (and his father 'Reverend Randy Vickers', who was also a vicar).
  • 'Usain Bolt' - fastest man on earth and multiple Olympic gold medal holder.
  • 'Alan Ball' grew up to play for England in the 1966 World Cup winning team.
  • 'Mr F. Knox' - Lloyds/TSB Bank Manager, Waterlooville, UK.
  • 'Dr Lavinia Blood' - Phlebotomist, St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, UK.
  • 'Dr Blades' - The national Director of Surgery at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.
  • 'Mr Cardiac Arrest da Silva' - Municipal Tax Collector, Brazil.
  • 'C. D'Eath and Sons' - Funeral Director, Sydney, Australia.
  • 'Mr Robbins' - Ornithologist and co-author of the guidebook "Birds of North America".
  • Doctors: 'De'Ath, Pain and Gore' .. all really good 'inaptronyms'.
Mark De Mann - A Footballer

There are hundreds of them once you start looking, and no doubt you will have come across more of them in your private life .... but of course there is a little bit of cheating in this list, in that the funny names often work only in English and not in their native languages.

This fact means that Oriental Asian names often sound rude, or ridiculous, when said in English, but have no such connotation in their own languages ... for that reason I have left these out of the list ... 'Dropsy' and 'Stepanova' have no such meaning in the French or Russian.


  1. There was a time when we were named after our job, what a pickle!

    1. I wonder how you got the name 'Handcock' LOL

    2. Not called Monkson .. really.16 September 2016 at 15:10

      Probably by avoiding getting arrested. Longbottom and ntshortbottom don't mean what you think either. They refer to strips of land at the bottom of river valleys which were prime land strips for farming in saxons days.

      Rude names are actually rare. The nearest are names like monkson which are the same as bastard because monks were supposed to be both celibate and never married.

    3. Very true. Thanks for the comment and observation.


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