An aptronym is, according to Wikipedia, ‘a name aptly suited to its owner’.
There is a wonderful list on the Wikipedia page. I won’t repeat them all here, but I can’t resist listing some of my favourite real aptronym names.
- Russell Brain – neurologist (doctor who is a brain expert)
- Margaret Court – a tennis player
- Bernard Madoff – who ‘made off’ with billions of pounds of investors money
Are names important?
My father was born in Yorkshire. His family had no connection to medicine, nor to the church and had never travelled abroad. They didn’t know any missionaries or explorers. Neither were they related to the family of the famous missionary explorer, Dr David Livingstone.
But they named my father David Livingstone. Did they realise the significance of that name?
Would you be surprised to know that my father attended theology college, became a missionary, and spent 10 years in East Africa?
My own name is Ruth Livingstone and, although I hope I have not become truly ruthless, I have become a medical doctor. Hence my name is now ‘Doctor Livingstone’.
So, between my father and myself, we have recreated all the key ingredients of the name ‘Doctor David Livingstone’ – including the connection with Africa, missionary work and medical qualifications.
We believe, of course, that we make choices in our lives from our own free will and, as a result of those choices we have some control over our own destinies.
But do we?
While on the subject of names, here are some interesting sites:
- Name Structures – report card based on your name.
- And a related article in The Sunday TimesThe names that will get your baby into Oxbridge, July 31, 2007.
- The top 100 baby names in America on BabyNamesGarden.com.
- Or have a laugh at the 50 craziest celebrity baby names, again from the Sunday Times, July 24, 2007.