- Education and Science
Names That Match Occupation
What's In A Name? Sometimes It's Your Job.
When I was studying horticulture, there was a guy in my class with the surname Gardiner. We thought it a bit amusing.
Having a name that reflects one’s job or characteristics is known as an Aptronym (or sometimes Aptonym) although this largely refers to the naming of fictional characters. This is common in comedy and children’s fiction, restoration period playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan had characters with called Miss Teazle and Lady Sneerwell. Then there are The Seven Dwarfs, The Smurfs and the Mr Men characters.
In real life, there are endless examples of people whose name matches their job. Usain Bolt instantly comes to mind. Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers is another.
The sewing teacher named Mrs. Button, the English police officer named PC Pleece, Dr. Richard Chopp Leading urologist specialising in vasectomies, who also works in the same urology clinic with a Dr. Hardeman and a Dr.Wang. There is an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology (vol 49, pp 173-176, 1977) by A. J. Splatt and D. Weedon. … the list goes on.
The last two names mentioned above caught the attention of New Scientist journalist John Hoyland, he read J. Splatt and D. Weedon’s study on incontinence, and on the same day also saw a book about the Arctic written by a man named Snowman. He coined the term ‘Nominative Determinism’. (A cute phrase that sounds like something author Terry Pratchett would write.) Are people drawn to occupations that match their name or is it a nice coincidence?
The jury is still out.
Karl Jung wrote in a book called Synchronicity (1952), that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".
It is interesting to remember that in many cases in old English surnames began as the person’s occupation, Smith and Baker were called Smith and Baker because that was their job.
Whether a coincidence or a psychological phenomenon will probably never be determined for sure, but it is amusing nonetheless when you meet someone who’s name fits their job or lifestyle.
Some Fun Examples
Here are a handful I found online –
Bob Diamond President and CEO of Barclays, who received a bonus of £6.5 million this year
Rich Ricci CEO of Barclays Capital who was paid £44 million last year
Patty Turner Late wife of McDonald's CEO Fred Turner
Bill Cash MP who claimed more than £15,000 in expenses to pay his daughter's rent.
John Doolittle & Tom DeLay Republicans who argued against any action on the ozone hole
Alan Heavens Professor of Astrophysics at Edinburgh University
Mr A (Andrew) Pothecary is a chemist.
Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox Authors of The Imperial Animal
Sara Blizzard Weather presenter for East Midlands Today.
Lord Igor Judge Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Sue Yoo Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell legal firm, New York
Marina Stepanova Former Soviet athlete, she was the first woman to run under 53 seconds in the 400m hurdles.
Layne Beachley seven times women’s world surfing champion.
Dr. Russell Brain was an eminent British neurologist who wrote about the brain and edited a medical journal dedicated to neurology called Brain.
Payne & Fears a law firm in California who represent employers in employment litigation.
Dr. Harry Beaver is a Virginia gynaecologist.