The English language has dozens of interesting words to describe people who collect just about anything. For example, most people know that a person who collects baseball cards is a cartophile and a person who collects stamps is a philatelist. And there are some really obscure terms, like a pannapictagraphist (person who collects comic books) and paroemiographer (person who collects proverbs). So, is there a specific word for a person who collects interesting or strange names of people? Officially there is no term, but that’s what is so great about the English language — if there isn’t a word, one will be coined. Bookshelf offers the word appellationist — defined as a person who collects names, for the OED’s consideration.
John Train, a former editor of the Harvard Lampoon, is the quintessential appellationist. He has been collecting funny and unusual names since 1949 when he happened to come across a list of women’s funniest first names in the now defunct Colliers magazine. The list included the following names: Blooma, Chlorine, Dewdrop, Larceny, Faucet, Twitty, and Zippa. “I thought this was all very useful information,” Train noted. Inspired by the list, he began seeking out funny and unusual names. In the late 1970s, he finally published his list of funny names in two books: Remarkable Names of Real People, and its companion volume, Even More Remarkable Names. He only included names that he could verify in writing or by phone with the actual people. (Remember folks, this was before the days of the Internet.) Here are some remarkable names of real people from Train’s wonderful collection.
A. Toxen Worm
B. Brooklyn Bridge
Blecher Wack Wack
Bumpus McPhumbus Angeledes
Cashmere Tango Obedience
Chief C. Crook
For further reading: John Train’s Most Remarkable Names by John Train (1985)