May 04, 2006
For at least 20 years, I’ve been collecting funny names. Funny to me, that is. Not necessarily funny to those who have to live with them. Which is why, in spite of an itch to do so, I have not uttered a public peep about my list. Until now.
Here’s what changed. A friend forwarded me a blog about a New York lawyer named Sue Yoo. Funny, eh? At least as good as the Car Talk guys’ fictitious Dewey, Cheetham and Howe, and Sue Yoo is an actual lawyer.
The blog about Sue Yoo suggested that there is a whole class of names, called aptronyms, that inadvertently describe their bearers’ occupations.
After adding Sue Yoo to my list, I quickly spun through it in search of other aptronyms. I found a few. And I found some close calls. And I thought, heck, let the readers decide.
Ernest Shepherd, the onetime Concord minister, is surely an aptronym. At the time of Carol Cordial’s listing, she worked in support services in the governor’s office; assuming she was indeed cordial, her name might be an aptronym.
But what about the board of plumbing nominee Wayne A. Fishpaw or the beer industry lobbyist William Pitcher? Or nurses Cheryl Woundy and Nicy Ladd? Or Lt. Col. R. Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, who led a British parachute unit on D-Day?
I’m pretty certain Texas A&M economist Tom Saving is an aptronym, but I wonder about Hope Butterworth, the angel who has run the Concord soup kitchen for so many years.
On my list, there is a starting nine for a baseball team, chosen entirely for their names. I don’t think they’re aptronyms. Closer to onomatopoeia but not quite that either. For one thing, only two of them are or were real ballplayers. Can you guess which two? Here’s the lineup:
Bart P. Snarf
And, warming up in the bullpen, Wacko Hurley.
(The manager is Brick P. Storts III.)
There is the travel writer Sandy Shore, which may be an aptronym, and the PR specialist Rebecca Wind. Because the names of copy editors Karl Muench and Gary Ruff doubtless do not reflect the quality of their work, they are probably not aptronyms.
Crystal Ball might be an aptronym if she read palms. Alas, she is – or was – a North Country restaurateur. Polly Ester, a lifeguard, could be one, too, but you’d have to see the suit.
Then there are John Minor Wisdom, the judge, Kelly Blizzard, the spokesperson for highways, and Woody Fogg, who tracked hurricanes for the state. And how about Caroline Welcome, the cemetery trustee? Not quite aptronyms, do you think?
There are situational rather than occupational near-aptronyms, too. I think of Maureen Nix, who protested a spending article at a school meeting, and Lance Lalumiere, who was arrested for arson.
That’s enough for now. Maybe more names another day, if the opportunity presents itself. I’ve become more selective over the years, but my list is nearly 200 names long. As I said, I collect them for fun and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. On the other hand, there are plenty of categories – a list of mellifluous names like Florville Larmony and Miranda Fulleylove, for example. Or, shall we say, Victorian names like Cantwell F. Muckenfuss III, Cromwell Schubarth and Tewksbury (Tooky) Crapster. Or names with risqué connotations like . . .
Well, as I said, maybe another time.
Posted by Mike Pride at May 4, 2006 01:46 PM
Is Patty Kennedy going to be on the front page of the Monitor tomorrow? Can you say cover-up?
If this happened to VP Cheney you would have this on the front page for a month.
Posted by: Van Mosher at May 4, 2006 09:21 PM
Strange names, but appropriate, pop up in unusual places. Perhaps I can add to your aptronyms.
For a while I worked in the state office that determined disabilities under federal Social Security rules and found one there. There are times when it's difficult to keep a straight face, and I'm starting to stretch a grin just thinking about a name even now after many years. I received a medical report from Mary Hitchcock Hospital, then in Hanover, and on the letterhead was the name of a physician who was identified as a gastroenterologist. His name (I kid you not) was Dr. Belch.
I also encountered a strange situation during my time in the U. S. Army where there was an individual named Major who was a sergeant, ergo, Sergeant Major. Then, there was another individual named Sargent who was (you guessed it) a Major, ergo, Major Sargent.
Posted by: John Stohrer at May 6, 2006 11:00 PM
I think my favorite all-too-appropriate name was that of a talented vocalist I met at a summer music program I went to in high school. Her name? Melody. Her hometown? Harmony, Pa. (PA also has a Bird in Hand, an Intercourse, a Hometown, a Mars, an Apollo, a Moscow and other interesting town names too numerous to mention.)
Posted by: Elizabeth Walters at May 8, 2006 01:40 PM