HomeOpinion & AnalysisThe Fiddler: Give a person a bad name

The Fiddler: Give a person a bad name

“Irony” is defined as “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result”.

We need to carefully consider how we name our children because the names we choose can have implications for them in the future. If you are going to use English names, the names selected often appear to be predictive and the prediction may turn out either to be correct or incorrect. If our child named “Innocent” is found not guilty of a criminal offence, the appellation is appropriate. On the other hand, “Innocent” will not be wryly amused when he is convicted of a criminal offence. If persons named “Furious”, “Badboy”, “Cutthroat”, or “Killer” are convicted of crimes of violence or a child named “Trustworthy” is later convicted of fraud then the names proved to be suitable. But if your child becomes a priest, the name you gave him, “Killer”, was most inapt unless the priest actually commits homicide. You should have named your child “Profit” and not “Prophet” if later he embezzles a lot of money.

First names or surnames that turn out to be appropriate for their later occupations or for the characteristics they display are referred to as Aptronyms, whereas names that later prove to be unfitting are called “Inaptronyms”.

Some names are horrifyingly apt such as Will Drop, a Montreal window cleaner who died in a fall; and Willburn and Frizzel, who on the grim morning of 6 October 1941, went to the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.

Remember that the name given will stay with the child for the rest of the child’s life unless it is changed. A single mother should not name her child “Wobegotten” because she is upset that the man who impregnated her has abandoned her. A woman should not name her child “Suffering” because of the ordeal that she went through when giving birth.

Parents with a perverse sense of humour should not be permitted to burden their children with names such as “Dork”, “Dipstick”, “Dingbat”, “Jackass”, “Smelly”, and “Milksop”. Avoid the name “Fanny” for a girl child.

The foremost consideration is to avoid giving your child name that horrid, cruel classmates with use against him for taunting and bullying. Just imagine what is in store for a child you chose to call “Whatever”, “Whatnot” or “Noname”.

List of names

Some of the real life aptronyms listed by Wikipedia and other sources are these:

  • M.D. Francious Alouf, a psychiatrist.
  • Jules Angst, a German professor of psychiatry, who has published works about anxiety (angst);
  • H. Argue, attorney-at-law, Oliver, British Columbia;
  • Sheila Askew, image consultant;
  • Michael Ball, an English footballer;
  • Mickey Bass, an American bassist and musician;
  • Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone;
  • Sarah Blizzard, a meteorologist and weather presenter;
  • John Blow, an English pipe organist at Westminster Abbey;
  •  Usain Bolt, a Jamaican sprinter;
  • Sir Ronald Brain, British neurophysiologist;
  • James Bugg, exterminator, not to be confused with Bob Bugg, who is an entomologist at the University of California;
  • Edmund Careful, Army driver cited for safety record;
  • Christopher Coke, a drug lord and cocaine trafficker;
  • Leona Couch, a psychiatrist;
  • Margaret Court, an Australian tennis player;
  • Thomas Crapper, a sanitary engineer;
  • Dick Curd, spokesman for the Carnation Milk Company;
  • Lt. D. C. Current, member of the electrical sciences department at the U.S. Naval Academy. His father’s initials are: A.C.;

Pauline Cutting, British surgeon;

  • Mark De Man, a Belgian football defender;
  • Barry Filler, London dentist with a nurse named Jane Pullam;
  • Charles J. Fish, professor of marine biology;
  • Bob Flowerdew, a gardener and TV/radio presenter;
  • Akin Frame, a chiropractor;
  • Charles R. Forgetsnothing, who was sentenced to six months in jail for forgetting to appear in court;
  •  Bill Headline, Washington Bureau Chief for Cable News Network;
  • Roy Holler, Wisconsin auctioneer;
  • Igor Judge, an English judge and Lord Chief Justice;
  • Les Plack, a dentist,
  •  Donald Posthumus, a doctor who is at the same California hospital as Dr. Donald Stiff and Dr. Michael Butcher;
  • Earl Risky, Chicago stockbroker;
  • Francine Prose, an American novelist;
  • Philander Rodman who fathered 26 children by 16 mothers;
  • Ray Roach, an office manager of the Ballantyne Pest Control Co. in Chicago;
  • Elizabeth Shelver of the Minneapolis Public Library;
  • I.Q. Smart, a resident of Braintree, Massachusetts;
  • Larry Speakes, a White House Press Secretary;
  • Scott Speed, an American racecar driver;
  • Linda Toote, a flautist in an orchestra in Florida;
  • Dick Tracy, once police chief in Corning, California;
  • George Francis Train, an entrepreneur a railway constructor;
  • Ralph True, a lie-detector expert;
  • John Minor Wisdom, an American judge.
  •  William Wordsworth, an English poet and advocate for the extension of British copyright law;
  • Tiger Woods, an American professional golfer; a wood is a type of golf club.

Wikipedia has a shorter list of inaptronyms which include:

  • Rob Banks, a British police officer;
  • Frank Beard, an American musician who, until c. 2013, was the only member of rock band ZZ Top without a beard;
  • Don Black, a white supremacist;
  • Henry Calamity, an inaptronym, as this man was named the Santa Fe Railroad’s “safety man of the month” for March 1969;
  • Samuel Foote, a comic actor who lost a leg in a horse riding accident in 1766, and made jokes on stage about “Foote and leg, and leg and foot”;
  • O. O. Fuzzy, optometrist;
  • I.C. Notting, an ophthalmologist, Leiden University;
  • Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia Police Commissioner;
  • Larry Playfair, National Hockey League defenseman known for his fighting during games;
  • Jaime Sin, Catholic prelate. Upon being made a cardinal in 1976, he gained the further inaptronymic title of “Cardinal Sin”.

When selecting a first name you must also bear in mind what will emerge when this first name is combined with your surname.

  • I leave you this week with this newspaper article:

A lorry loaded with thousands of copies of Roget’s Thesaurus crashed as it left a Manchester publishing house last Tuesday, according to the daily newspapers.

When Will and Guy caught up with the witnesses, we found them stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, punchy, shocked, rattled, paralysed, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplussed, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, boggled, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, and perplexed.

Don’t let lawyer anywhere near a Thesaurus particularly those who charge by the word.

Readers are welcome to submit their own suggestions for aptronyms and Inaptronyms.

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