Euonyms

Definition: Noun. Literally, a good name; an apt or appropriate name for a person, place, or thing.

Etymology: From the Greek eu meaning “good” and onym meaning “name”

A true eunonym is not a stage name or pseudonym (eg, John Wayne changed his name from Marion Robert Morrison; Lady Gaga changed her name from Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), but rather an individual’s actual birth name. A euonym is also distinct from an eponym, a word that most often gets its meaning from the name of an actual of fictional person (eg, Herculean from Hercules; Parkinson Disease from James Parkinson; Richter Scale from Charles Richter).

There are dozens of examples of really great euonyms in the world of entertainment, sports, politics, and pop culture. Here are some of the most notable:

Usain Bolt – Olympic athlete, winner of gold medal for the 100-meter dash, and recognized as the fastest man in the world

Marc Webb – director of the Amazing Spider-Man

Tiger Woods – golf player

James Riddle Hoffa – American labor union leader that disappeared in 1975

Chris Moneymaker – successful American poker player

Larry Speakes – President Reagan’s press secretary

Sara Blizzard – weather commentator on the BBC’s East Midlands Today

Marshall Brain – scientist and writer

Larry Page – co-founder of Google

Marion Moon – maiden name of Buzz Aldrin’s mother (Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong)

For further reading: Tyrannosaurus Lex by Rod Evans, Perigee (2012). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/magazine/21fob-q4-t.html

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