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AWADmail Issue 134

September 4, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Roger Burton West (rogerATfiredrake.org)
Subject: Alexander (Re: alexia)

You write: "... Alexander, meaning defender, from Greek alexein (to defend)."

Well, loosely. But Al-ex-ander can also, and I think more closely, be drawn as "he who repels men" (in a martial sense; throwing them off as he wades through the fight); which would make Alexandra "she who repels men" (in a marital sense?).


From: Al Hartman (ohioalhartmanATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--garth

It is popular to accent the garth by diverting a small stream to run through its midst. These are affectionately referred to as "garth brooks".


From: John Graham (johnATjgrescon.fsbusiness.co.uk)
Subject: garth

In the UK, "garth" has a number of related meanings. It refers quite generally to any enclosed yard and is occasionally used as an alternative for "avenue or street" (as in Lullington Garth in North West London) if the thoroughfare is U-shaped (both ends joining the same main road). It is also used to describe a weir on a river for trapping fish.


From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: aptronyms

Going by the response to this week's theme it appears aptronyms are not that unusual. For some reason, doctors are particularly prone to this phenomenon (known as nominative determinism). Here are a few selections:

My long-ago orthodontist in South Bend, Indiana was named Dr. Tuthaker. His nurse was vigilant about pronouncing both vowels as "uh" but we knew it was really "oo" and "ay"!
-Judith Stein (jsteinATmit.edu)

I knew there had to be a name for it. There is no way to describe the drive to become what your name means. My maiden name is Leeper, and I'm one of seven children. In school, several of us competed in high jump or long jump. Most of us had small measure of talent, but a nephew, Nathan Leeper, went on to compete in the Sydney Olympics, one of two high jumpers for the US team.
-Joni Leeper Rankin (jrankinATwinfieldmainstreet.com)

My favorite aptronym is a local Russian violin maker named Strinkovsky.
-Naomi Rosen (swidlerATyahoo.com)

The Amigone family runs a funeral home in Buffalo, NY. The name of a local urologist is Richard (Dick) Tapper!
-Mary Lee Foley (mlfoleyATearthlink.net)

My very competent chiropractor, noted for her subtle sense of touch, is Dr. Karen Feeley.
-Richard Swinehart (swinehartATblueridgemail.com)

My herbal medicine lecturer is Louise Plant! Her daughter is called Acacia, which is a type of Australian tree.
-Janice Fulton (weetashieATarachdotnet.au)

In the Los Angeles area, there is an independent journalist that I know, who is quite well respected, and his name is Trent Kamerman. He is ... yes, you guessed it - a cameraman!
-Spencer Marks (spencermarATaol.com)

My name is Forester Dean, and yes I am an arborist and landscape designer. Most people hear "Forester Green" and I point out that the possibility is unlikely. Down the street, South Burlington Vermont, is a Congregational church who's minister is Reverend Merry Crowder!
-Forester Dean (buddahATsover.net)

I once owned belt made by A.Buckle and Son Pty Ltd.
-Michael Strong (michael.strongATnetcat.biz)

We have a politician here in Northern California named (John?) Doolittle. I still can't believe anyone with that name would have the nerve to go into politics!
-Jan deProsse (iguanaverbosaATyahoo.com)

I had a neurosurgeon repair my wrist many years ago - his name was Dr. Cure. My favorite, however, is an optometrist for whom I worked. His name was Dr. Steven I. Ball. I'm not kidding.
-Nance Buchert (buchertATinsightbb.com)

I once came across a man who had an excessive affinity for the bottle. His last name? Drinkwine.
-Linda Karmann (karmannATfreeway.net)

In my small hometown of Goldendale, Washington, there were many with monikers you surely would classify as aptronyms. Two which come to mind were Carl Crooks, for years our only insurance broker (ironically the most decent and honest individual many of us ever knew), and Dr. Bonebrake, our town's chiropractor. I also knew a Judge Lawless, who was elected to the Superior Court in eastern Washington.
-Terry Stone (terryjstoneATaol.com)

Richard Chopp--he goes by Dick--is a urologist specializing in vasectomy in Austin, Texas.
-Douglas Rathbun (douglasATrathbun.net)

Years ago my children's dentist belonged to a small practice that included a Dr. Grinder.
-P.D. Rust (prustATnc.rr.com)

My favorite aptronym is a pediatric urologist who has written extensively on male circumcision. His name is Dr. Thomas Wiswell.
-Marc Williams (mswilliams02ATcharter.net)

Here's another aptronym: A limnologist named Prof. Lake at Monash University in Australia (limnology being the science of freshwater ecosystems, i.e., lakes and rivers).
-Meg Gawler (megATartemis-services.com)

When I was growing up near Philadelphia, I once babysat for a family named Buch. The mother was a librarian and her name was Rita Buch.
-Lisa Lapp (lisalappATaol.com)

Here in Coventry UK there was once a city centre optician (optometrist) named Seymour. As for non-aptronyms: in my student days in the Home Counties, I knew of a professional firm (of estate agents, I think) named Secrett, Secrett and Sly. I often wondered how their business fared!
-Carol Dunne (wimbleweatherAThotmail.com)

When I used to write obituaries for a daily paper in Kingston, NY, there was an undertaker in neighboring Ellenville named Donald H. Bury. Then there's the serendipitously named novelist, Francine Prose. And this may be apocryphal, but I've been hearing for years about an insurance agent in the Boston area named Justin Case.
-Mikhail Horowitz (horowitzATbard.edu)

My favorite aptronym is Waverly Person, who is the Director of the National Earthquake Center in Denver.
-Tom Kiteley (tkiteleyATpeakpeak.com)

In Rochester, NY there is surgeon who performs vasectomies: Dr. Stopp.
-Keith Crossley (keith.crossleyATexcellus.com)

There is a retired physician at our church named Fred Doctor. There is also a pastor in town named Pastor Doctor who does healing of a different sort, I imagine.
-Carol Tie (caroltieAtcfl.rr.com)

As an undergraduate student of Near Eastern archaeology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, my most influential teacher was Dr. Lawrence Toombs. He had dug with Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho in the 1950s, and because of his name was assigned by her to excavate the Middle Bronze Age tombs.
-Sylvie Browne (sbrowneATdot.state.ny.us)

I recently had a colonoscopy performed by a Dr. Hinds.
-Carl G. Young (carljovenATcomcast.net)

In the small city where I attended college some years ago, the sign in the office window of two physicians read, "Doctors Bills and Bills". Not exactly an aptronym, but it somehow seemed appropriate.
-Carl Zehr (zehrsATwestelcom.com)

In the suburbs of Detroit in the 1960's, there was a podiatrist whose name was printed in bold letters over his door: P.F. Smelsey, Foot Doctor. Every time my family drove past, we children would giggle.
-Susan Peisner (susanpeisnerAThotmail.com)

I have to tell you that my name is also a common word. My mother attached an additional "r" at the end to make it more distinct or different. Tenderr Lee is my given name.
-Tenderr Lee Little (tlittleATecdh.org) An inaptronym, perhaps. Years ago, I went to an optician's office known mostly by a trade name. I was alarmed to see the name of one of the opticians stenciled on the door, until his receptionist called him by name and used a short I. He was Dr. Blinder.
-Charles M. Newman (paladincnATatt.net)

A couple of my acquaintances were named Draxler, Vesna and Bruno; Vesna a Croat and Bruno a Hungarian. Their elder daughter is named Alexa. This was long before dyslexia in its myriad complexities became a common concern among educators. Not quite alexia; Alexa is fluent in several languages.
-Art Darwin (blandartAThci.net)

Here is a website of funny medical aptronyms, collected by medical librarians: The Doctor's Names List. Not only is there a nice long list of names, but as good librarians, the site includes a short bibliography of research into nominative determinism.
-Valerie Rankow (vgr99AToptonline.net)


From: Michael Wiesenberg (queueingATpacbell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--alexia

Puritans hoped recipients of names would take on their characteristics, hence names like Charity and Chastity.


Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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