ATOV: “Nominative Determinism” and aptronym/aptonym

I just saw on Reddit that Amelia Earhart did an AMA.  No, it wasn’t a parody, it was a real woman named Amelia Earhart who just so happens to be an aviatrix.

As is often the case, some of the comments in this Reddit post took me on a tangent.  Particularly, user “stretchpharmstrong”‘s comment reminding me of nominative determinism struck my eye.  I forgot about this idea, because I forgot the phrase.

Aptronym/aptonym/euonym are all synonyms for this idea.

If I remember a phrase/word of an idea, I can remember the idea.  And the only way to remember phrases/words for me is to repeat them.  So I suggest it will be ATOV (added to our vocabulary).

Nominative determinism is the idea that your name (nom being the Greek/Latin root for the English word name) has an effect on what you do with your life.

Someone in the same Amelia Earhart AMA explained nominative determinism as “Why people named ‘Dennis’ are proportionally more likely than their peers to become Dentists.”   Well, apparently this isn’t true, but it is nonetheless a good example of the idea.

As far as other examples go, Buzzfeed has an excellent collection of people who were potentially nominatively determined.  Wikipedia’s page on aptronyms has an exceptionally lengthy list of examples (Apparently Doug Bowser is the current VP of Sales at Nintendo).  Guy-Sports also has a solid list, as well as other linguistic items of interest.

As for our modern day Amelia Earhart?  A Redditor asked her if she thought her name influenced her life.  She responded:

“100% yes. I am SO lucky my parents gave me this name. I used to hate it but honestly, it has set me on this course of incredible adventure and aviation opportunity. That’s why I run my foundation- to help girls that want to fly get the same chances I get.”