Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nominative determinism


Nominative determinism (ND) is the theory that a person's name can have a significant role in determining key aspects of job, profession or even character. 

It was a commonly held notion in the ancient world.

Synonyms and/or related concepts include: aptronym, apronym, aptonym, jobonyms, 'namephreaks', onomastic determinism, 'perfect fit last names' (PFLNs), psychonymics and, classically, the notion that nomen est omen, or όνομα ορίζοντας. Tom Stoppard in his play Jumpers labelled the phenomenon cognomen syndrome.

A related term, to refer to a name peculiarly suited to its owner, is aptronym, said to have been coined by the US newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams.
The distinction between cognitive determinacy and a mere aptronym is seen as subtle but fundamental: i.e. post hoc vs propter hoc. ND researchers are sometimes referred to as comiconomenclaturists — connoisseurs of humorous names.

Research into nominative determinism

Bennett, HJ. (1992-12-02). "A piece of my mind. Calling Dr Doctor". JAMA 268 (21): 3060. doi:10.1001/jama.268.21.3060. PMID 1306061.

Balestra, DJ. (1993-04-07). "Dr Doctor calls back". JAMA 269 (13): 1637. doi:10.1001/jama.269.13.1637c. PMID 8455293.

Hug, Hr. (1993-04-07). "Dr Doctor calls back". JAMA 269 (13): 1637. doi:10.1001/jama.269.13.1637b. PMID 8455294.

Casler, L. (1975). "Put the Blame on Name". Psychol Rep 36 (2): 467–472. doi:10.2466/pr0.1975.36.2.467.

Christenfeld, N; Phillips DP, Glynn LM (September 1999). "What's in a name: Mortality and the power of symbols". J Psychsom Res 47 (3): 241–254. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(99)00035-5. PMID 10576473.

Cole, C (2001-02-09). "Is work calling your name?". George Street Journal 25.

Dickson, P. (1996). What's in a name?. Springfield MA.: Merriam-Webster. ISBN 0-87779-613-0.

Joubert, CE. (1985). "Factors Related To Individuals Attitudes Toward Their Names". Psychol Rep 57 (3): 983–986. doi:10.2466/pr0.1985.57.3.983.

Luscri, G; Mohr PB (June 1998). "Surname effects in judgments of mock jurors". Psychol Rep 82 (3): 1023–1026. doi:10.2466/PR0.82.3.1023-1026.

Michalos, Christina (2009-04-02). "In the Name of the Law". Counsel Magazine - the Journal of the Bar Council: 16–18.

Murphy, WF (1957). "A Note on the Significance of Names". The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 26: 91–106.

Nuessel, F (1994). The Study of Names. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28356-7.

Slovenko, R (1983). "The Destiny Of A Name". Journal of Psychiatry and Law 11 (2): 227–270.

Slovenko, R (April 1980). "On naming". Am J Psychother 34 (2): 208–219. PMID 7386692.

Strumpfer, DJW (1978). "Relationship Between Attitudes Toward Ones Names And Self-Esteem". Psychol Rep 43 (3): 699–702. doi:10.2466/pr0.1978.43.3.699.

Pelham, B; Mirenberg, Matthew C.; Jones, John T. (2002). "Why Susie sells seashells by the seashore: Implicit egotism and major life decisions". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82 (4): 469–487. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.4.469. PMID 11999918.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don't know why but on Wiki the word "jobonyms" is written like "jobonymNs"... What for?