Nominative determinism. Go on, say it. Nominative determinism. Sounds nice right? And clever.
Now I know that my many (she says hopefully) readers are super intelligent, but just in case any of you haven’t come across this lovely term before, it’s basically the idea that people quite often end up doing jobs that match their names. Also called aptronyms, think William Wordsworth (poet, obvs), Usain Bolt (I confess I hadn’t actually made the connection until I started writing this), or Mr Greenacre, who was the man that looked after the hockey pitches at my school. Possibly less famous than the first two, but you get the point.
The term nominative determinism was coined in an article in the New Scientist. They gave examples including:
- a man who wrote a book about polar exploration with the surname Snowman
- an article on treating disorders of the urinary system by two researchers called Splatt and Weedon (BEST. THING. EVER).
The theory goes that this isn’t just coincidence – it’s possibly down to genetics, or a thing called implicit egotism. As this is a blog about words, I’m not going to delve into the science, just the funny names. So here’s a list of my favourite examples of this theory in action.
Judge Judge innit.
He’s a big ole drug dealer.
Guess what he wrote books about? Neurology.
Sir Manley Power
He was a total military ledge.
He’s a plastic surgeon. Well of course he is.
She runs an organisation that works to reform prisons. In a double whammy, ‘Frances’ means ‘free the criminals’ apparently.
I’m not sure if this one really counts because she’s from Bulgaria and it only works in English, but I don’t care because it’s awesome. I bet you can’t guess it. She’s a... wait for it... 400m hurdler. Amazing.
She was Buzz Aldrin’s mum. I can’t believe I only just found this out.
She founded the British Tarantula Society. REALLY.
He’s the president of a charity called Food for the Poor. Even though his name says otherwise.
Dr Richard Chopp
HE DOES VASECTOMIES. Honest.
So, dear reader, if you can beat Dick Chopp, please let me know in the comments. I’ll buy you dinner (chops, of course).