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Of course there are Meaningful Names in real life... you didn't think names like Carpenter and Smith arose out of coincidence, did you?


  • While modern names tend to be linguistically meaningless, a great number are descended from ones that weren't. Zum Beispiel "Athalwolf" is Old High German for "Noble Wolf"; among others, it eventually became "Adolf".
    • Which brings us to Adolf Hitler; this suited his predatory political philosophy quite well, especially as he loved making references to the animal kindgom and "survival of the fittest" in that regard. He loved the name too, and milked it for all it was worth - one of his headquarters was known as "The Wolf's Lair".
    • ...and then VERY strongly averted with The Dragon of Nazi Germany, Heinrich Himmler (Himmler = "Heavener", as in "one from Heaven" which he decidedly was not).
    • Then there's also their lackey Kurt von Schleicher who is remembered in history as the man who tried to become a kind of Chessmaster, playing ultra-conservatives and the Nazis against each other to secure his hold on power over Germany and spectecularly failed, which led to the Nazis gaining full control of the country. The Name Schleicher means someone who is sneaky, but also has implications of liar, thief, and a generally untrustworthy person who lacks a spine.
  • Tiger Woods -- a golfer, natch.
  • Former US Olympic swimmer Jeff Float.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Woodcock, the Public Affairs Director of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration during the 1990's, was the government's point person on Viagra.
  • Dawson's Creek star James van der Beek's last name means "from the creek" in Dutch.
  • The winner of the 2003 World Series of Poker was an accountant named Chris Moneymaker. His grandfather changed it from the German Nurmacher, which means "only maker".
  • Freakonomics tells us of a real-life inversion with the case of Winner Lane and Loser Lane: while the latter became a successful police sergeant, the former became a petty criminal.
  • Mark Shuttleworth, leader of the Ubuntu Linux project, was also, fittingly enough, the first astronaut from South Africa.
    • Speaking of astronauts, "Ride, Sally, Ride!"
  • John Candy. The name of this late great funnyman from Canada says a lot about his personality. Plus, he was born on Halloween (candy is given out on that holiday), was hugely overweight and had a very sweet personality.
  • William Shockley invented the transistor. He was also an incredible asshole.
    • Actually, it was invented by John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. Shockley got to share credit because he was their boss. Still an appropriate name for the head of an electronics (solid state physics) laboratory.
  • There's a Finnish Meteorologist named Pekka Pouta, which would translate as Peter Fair Weather.
  • Thomas Crapper, popularizer of the flush toilet.
    • Contrary to urban legend, he was not the inventor but he was a plumber who helped popularize the device. Also, his first name was not "John", and he never bore a knighthood.
    • Also contrary to urban legend the word is likely a back-formation from "crap", which comes from Dutch (krappe = the residue left over from the rendering-down of fat). Neither word is likely to have any etymological relationship with the gambling dice game called Craps (or Crap, or Crap-Shooting), which is derived from a 17th century English game called Crabs (or Crab).
    • Crapper is a variant from Cropper. But as human manure is a highly valued fertilizer, it could be interpreted as Meaningful Name by Proxy.
  • NASCAR driver and former Formula One competitor Scott Speed. Also, retired NASCAR driver Lake Speed (no relation to Scott).
    • In drag racing there is John Force, and now Ashley Force too.
    • Also Australian Will Power in Indycar
  • New Scientist magazine asked readers for examples of "nominative determinism" and received so many they had to beg for the madness to end.
  • Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt.
  • The father of American actress Kirsten Storms was a TV weatherman in Orlando, Florida.
    • There is a Los Angeles weatherman named Dallas Raines.
  • Price Club (now known as Costco) was actually named for its founder, Sol Price.
  • Thorton Hee, a Disney story man from the forties, had his name listed as T. Hee.
  • Real life Inversion: The 2000 US Presidential Election. The Democratic candidate Al Gore is now mostly known for his dedication to stopping global warming, while the Republican candidate George Bush is now known (among other things) for involvement in the war on terrorism. One would think that the man who promoted the environment would be named Bush (you know, a plant) and that the man who promoted defense would be named Gore, but that isn't the case.
  • The leader of the Ontario Conservative Party is named John Tory. (For those who don't know, "tory" is common slang for "conservative" in Canada and the UK.)
  • Roger Tory Peterson is best known for his popular field guides to birds. Tori is the Japanese word for bird.
  • Bernie Madoff (pronounced 'made-off') with your money.
  • The original promoter of the (entirely discredited) Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship was one J. Thomas Looney, prounounced "Low-ney".
  • Infomercial pitchman Vince Offer (real name 'Offer Shlomi').
  • Chromatography (means "color writing" on Greek and it is) was invented by Russian botanist M.S. Tsvet; his last name translates from Russian as "color".
  • George McGovern is a politician (and one who likes government at that).
  • The current (March 09) Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, now the most senior judge in England and Wales, is Lord Judge, that is his name is Igor Judge. There is also a Lord Justice of Appeal named John Laws, that is, Lord Justice Laws.
  • Edward Gorey is a writer of bloody stories.
  • William Wordsworth, who is a famous poet. His good friend and fellow Romantic poet Coleridge points this out in poetry.
  • Economist Richard Thaler's last name is the German root word for "Dollar."
    • Which also qualifies German poker player Katja Thaler.
  • Double-subverted by Dan Schneider ("tailor" or "cutter" in German) who named his business Schneider's Bakery (it's a TV production company).
  • Melinda Loveless, who infamously tortured a young girl to death.
  • In London, there's a veterinary surgery in Mayow Road, near Catford.
  • Sir Henry Head, English neurologist.
    • And Walter Russell (Lord) Brain, also a neurologist.
  • Antonio da Ponte, who rebuilt the Rialto Bridge ("da ponte" means "from the bridge").
  • Marilyn vos Savant, known for her high IQ.
  • Way back in the early days of animation, two animators named Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising were trying to sell there work. Since sound had just been invented, their main draw was that they could use voices and music effectively. Which makes it a good thing that they chose their last names for the name of the company: Harman-Ising.
  • Douglas Adams's initials were DNA. He was very proud of it. Even better, he was born in Cambridge, where Crick and Watson discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. Adams would say that he was DNA first.
  • Adrian Charles Edmondson aced England’s alternative comedy movement, as well as virtually everything else (dramatic acting, writing, directing, music, cooking even) he's put his hand to thus far.
  • Inverted by British Airways pilot John Coward, who was quite the hero in the way he landed a stricken Boeing 777 at London Heathrow in January 2008.
  • Destiny. She has to go on to do SOMETHING important after this, right?
  • Another Inversion: H.P. Lovecraft, infamous author of Cosmic Horror Stories filled with terror aplenty as well as a rumored Asexual. However, considering his books featured tentacled Eldritch Abominations, and the prevalence of tentacles in certain other media these days, there is a certain irony to the name.
  • Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster. Seriously!
  • The actress Charisma Carpenter.
  • With poetic justice, the original novel The Neverending Story was written by Michael Ende, whose surname is German for, you guessed it, "End".
  • The Dutch public television had two female meteorologists, Monique Somers (Summers) and Diana Woei (Woei being the - somewhat archaic - past tense of 'waaien', or 'blowing' (as in wind)).
  • One of the most famous architects of the late 19th/early 20th centuries: Antoni Gaudi.
    • Gaudi's vibrant, colorful, not-very-well-liked-at-the-time designs actually inspired the word gaudy.
  • The Supreme Court case that ended the ban on mixed-race marriages was Loving v. Virginia. As in the plaintiffs were Richard Perry and Mildred Loving. And the trial that forced Nixon to hand over his tapes - US vs. Nixon
  • One of the main military leaders that led the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état (which led to an oppressive dictatorship) was Gen. Amaury Kruel.
  • Mathematicians Mitchell Feigenbaum ("fig tree"), discoverer of the bifurcation constant named after him; and Benoit Mandelbrot ("almond bread"), though his set is more likely to be described as a gingerbread man.
  • The former spokesperson of the Dutch Airline Pilots Association is called Benno Baksteen, his last name meaning "brick".
  • A story about Dracula translated by a Mr. Dodemond, roughly 'Deadmouth'.
  • The former Dutch prime minister, J P Balkenende, is sometimes referred to as 'bak elende' or 'bin filled with trouble'.
  • The fact that Amy Winehouse was known for her heavy drinking and drug use and her biggest hit was about refusing to go back to rehab isn't as funny as it used to be.
  • Rufus (Latin for "red") Wainwright tended to wear a lot of red early in his career.
  • In the Ukrainian elections, one candidate has changed his surname to "Protyvsikh" - Proty vsikh is a Ukrainian phrase which translates to "Against everyone", something which sums up his political position. [1]
  • Indonesian ace football player Bambang Pamungkas. Pamungkas means "finisher," in a battle or duel context.
  • Awful but true: Eugène Ney Terre'Blanche, (deceased) leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging white-supremacist group. His surname means "white land" or "white earth" in French.
    • Also counts as Meaningful Rename, since this is the name his racist ancestors adopted when they first settled in South Africa. Eugene came from a long line of White Supremacists.
  • Hollywood big names James Cameron and James Horner. One's a director and the other composes film scores. Worked together on three movies.
  • A man named Jessie James Warren shot up an Atlanta office in January 2010.
    • A man named Jesse James Hollywood became a notorious fugitive and later had a Hollywood film based on his crime.
  • The Czech politician Jan Bürgermeister (means "Mayor" in German). Became a mayor of one of the Prague's districts, and a deputy-mayor of Prague.
  • Techno artist Moby (whose real name is Richard Melville Hall) is a direct descendant of Herman Melville.
  • Australian politician Tony Abbott is well known for being an outspoken Catholic, and regularly permitted this to influence his decisions as Minister for Health under the Howard government.
    • Critics of the Government in which Abbott served frequently noted that he served alongside Treasurer Peter Costello. Unfortunately for lovers of puns, there was never a direct leadership struggle between the two men.
  • Then there's Carelton Coon, an American anthropologist who became infamous for his controversial studies of race and support of segregationism.
  • Averted hilariously with the former Archbishop of Manila, Jaime L. Sin. Better known as Cardinal Sin.
  • Creflo Dollar, pastor with a prosperity theology.
  • An Atlanta man is being sought (as of March 2010) for child porn and attempting to buy a child. His name? Patrick Molesti. Seriously.
  • Doctor Richard (Dick) Chopp, urologist. "There are more vasectomies to be done" Richard Chopp's profile on urologyteam.com.
  • Though he is apparently named after a relative, former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's youngest child Trig, who suffers from Down's Syndrome, also shares his name with a common abbreviation for the disease (Trisomy G), causing some pundits to accuse Palin of having a very sick sense of humor.
    • Bristol Palin shares her first name with a kind of screw.
  • On April 30 2010, major independent Australian email provider FastMail.FM were assimilated taken over by Norwegian software house Opera -- whose manager of email products is Johan Borg.
  • Neal Horsley, Georgia politician who admitted to having sex with farm animals.
  • Viacom. It just sounds like a big, vaguely sinister conglomerate, doesn't it? Would you believe it didn't start out as one? It was originally just the TV production arm of CBS, on par with Filmways or Desilu. It sort of grew into its name. As an added bonus, it's even an acronym, for the all-encompassing VIdeo and Audio COMmunications, which is also appropriate for a media giant.
  • Donald Trump. If a fictional character in his position and with his reputation had that name, you'd call it ridiculous. ("Trump" means to crush and/or overwhelm. This usage originates from card games, "Queen trumps Jack" and so forth.)
    • Yeah, but in euchre, jack (called a Bower) trumps queen.
  • Larry Page, co-founder of Google. Google searches web pages. And the ranking system he invented is called PageRank.
  • A notorious Jamaican drug dealer is named Christopher Coke.
  • The first gay marriage performed in Portugal was celebrated between Helena Paixão and Teresa Pires. Paixão means "passion" in English. The two are the ones who initiated the drive for gay marriage in Portugal in the first place.
  • As pointed out in the intro way up at the tippy-top of this page, Yeager can be translated as "Hunter." Chuck Yeager ended WWII with 11.5 official kills, including a jet fighter and the achievement of "Ace In A Day", taking out five enemy planes in a single day, including taking down two enemy planes without shooting at them. Evidently, Chuck Yeager was so badass, two enemy pilots just crashed into eachother out of pure amazement that he was chasing them. After the war, he decided to relax by testing supersonic rocket planes.
    • There was also a fighter ace Robert Yeager, 5.5 kills, in the USAAF at Pacific Theater of war. He scored 3.5 kills with P-39 Airacobra, not known of its performance, and the rest with P-47 Thunderbolt. A lesser known badass, but Badass still.
  • Hans Wind, a flying ace.
  • Some examples mentioned in "Moments in Science #3" by Karl Kruzelnicki
    • Geoffrey Gold, Editor-in-Chief of Australian Journal of Mining'
    • Neil Gamble, Chief Executive of the Sydney Harbour Casino
    • Sue Pipe, General Secretary of the Industrial Water Society
    • David Steele, author of The Chemistry of Metallic Elements
    • Gladys Elder, author of The Alienated: Growing Older Today
    • Liz Peace, Defence Research Agency's spokesperson.
    • John Fish, Marine Biologist at Aberystwyth University
  • Former White House spokesman Larry Speakes.
  • One of the Linux kernel developers is called 'Pierre Ossman'. Open-source software is known as 'OSS' in the computing circles.
  • The element phosphorus was first discovered in 1669 by Hennig Brand, an apothecary and alchemist searching for the Philosopher's Stone. "Brand" is a German word meaning "blaze" or "fire", especially that of a house, forest or city. The name became not only meaningful, but prophetic even after Brand's home town Hamburg was destroyed in a firestorm caused by the RAF dropping phosphorous bombs on it in 1943.
  • Canadian distiller Samuel Bronfman's name means "liquor man" in Yiddish.
  • Several baseball players. Grant Balfour is a pitcher. Nick Swisher is a batter. You'd think it'd be the other way around...
  • Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces during World War II.
  • Failblog contains an extensive list of meaningful names including
  • Subverted with Ian Pratt, A member of the artificial intelligence group at the School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester.
  • Dick Masterson, the (in)famous male chauvinist (or troll who founded and maintained the site: http://www.menarebetterthanwomen.com/
  • General Dwight Eisenhower ("Iron Hewer"), once associated with a really big army.
  • The official name of the jail in Washington County, Utah is the Purgatory Correctional Facility (named for its location, Purgatory Flats).
  • Many people, including some who grow up to be celebrities, have names which resonate with the time they were born: famous British examples include Carol Vorderman (Christmas Eve) and Nöel Edmonds (Christmas Day).
  • Dennis Rodman's dad fathered 27 children by 4 different women. His first name: Philander.
  • The first commercially available recording of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Peanuts Gallery, a classical piece based on Charles M. Schulz's characters, features piano soloist Jeffrey Beagle Biegel.
  • The last name of Manson family member Linda Kasabian means "butcher."
  • Norio Wakamoto has "Norio" which means "Man of Law". Considering he was a police officer becoming a seiyuu, he definitely counts.
  • In 1995, a virtual reality researcher developed algorithms to simulate the evolution of living beings and a 3D environment in which virtual creatures evolve. His name: Karl Sims.
  • Mark Webb is set to direct the Spider-Man reboot film.
  • And there's The Brothers Grimm.
  • Mark Hamill plays The Joker in many animated Batman works.
  • Martin Luther King was a Protestant minister who fought the establishment.
  • Pat Buchanan plays with this. James Buchanan was a virulent racist, even by the standards of his time, going so far as to plan to invade Cuba for fear that the Spanish couldn't keep a slave riot down. Pat Buchanan theoretically opposes American imperialism, though as with all politicians, Blatant Lies apply. Pat Buchanan did praise Hitler, though.
  • John Forbes Kerry tried to play this with his initials. Nice try. He may have been a Senator from Massachusetts and quite wealthy (due to his wife though), but he was no Jack Kennedy.
  • Josh Outman, currently a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics.
  • A certain U.S. congressman is currently under investigation for pictures of his crotch he sent to a college student. His name? Anthony Weiner. This has led to all kinds of puns.
  • Toma Ikuta's parents were either big on astronomy or they wanted their children to become "stars". Toma's name is written with the Kanji for Big Dipper and True. His little brother, Ryuusei, who is trying to break into the business, writes his name with the kanji for Dragon and Star which also means "shooting star".
  • French football (soccer) manager Arsene Wenger went on to manage English club Arsenal FC.
  • Wolfgang Wolf, former manager of German club Wolfsburg.
  • Famous British chef Tom Kitchin (shame about the spelling).
  • White-haired, albino 70's rocker Edgar Winter. Yes, that's the name he was born with.
  • American football placekicker Ryan Longwell is known for kicking long field goals well.
  • Statesman and founding father Gouverneur Morris's name seems appropriate. He was never an actual governor, but he did represent the state of Pennsylvania during the Constitutional Convention.
  • E. G. Booz, a 19th century American distiller.
  • This is the whole point of binomial nomenclature. For example, Tyrannosaurus rex means, "tyrant lizard king."
  • Max Schreck, a german actor who played one of the most famous german horror movie antagonists/monsters in the movie Nosferatu. His last Name Schreck means Scare/Fright, so his name can be translated as "Max Scare".
  • There is a weather presenter on one of the regional new programmes in England by the name of Sara Blizzard
  • Dick Hickock who murdered the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas was not only something of a dick/cock, he also largely did as that part of his body dictated, attempting to rape the sixteen year old Nancy Clutter. His partner in crime, Perry Smith managed to stop him, saying "If there's anything I can't stand, it's a man who can't control what's in his pants!. The murders were dramatised by Truman Capote in his novel, In Cold Blood.
  • Virtually all Slavic first names are this. Before the Christianity introduced the Greek and Latin names, Slavic traditional names were usually composed of two meaningful words giving a kind of description. For example, 'Vladimir' is made of 'Vladi' (power, rulership, equivalent to modern Polish 'wladza' or Russian 'wlast') and 'mir' (peace, also in modern Czech and Russian) which meant 'one that rules by peace'. It was commonly believed that the given name can shape future of the child. Many such names are still popular today.
  • Genghis Khan was born with the name Temujin, which translates to Iron Man.
  • The head football coach of the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks from 1990-1997 was named Steve Axman.
  • Former NBA team Indianapolis Olympians were led by some former 1948 Olympic basketball players.
  • The Nike designer who created the Nike Mag, as well as several alternative designs that weren't used, is named Tinker Hatfield.
  • Canadian wildlife biologist David Bird.
  • Jack Del Rio, head coach of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011. His name means "Jack of the River", and Jacksonville is nicknamed "The River City".
  • In an unbelievable case of being both a Meaningful Name AND a Non-Indicative Name, Viking chieftain Erik the Red earned his nickname not because of his bloodlust (he was kicked out of both Norway and later Iceland for multiple murders), but because of his long flaming red hair and beard.
  • The Catholic priest John Furniss, author of a tract describing a child burning in hell.
  • On IMDB, when multiple people have the same name, Roman numerals are attached to the end, so Jim Troper the actor would be "Jim Troper (I)" and Jim Troper the producer would be "Jim Troper (II)." Why is this relevant, you ask? Let's ask Matt Smith (XI)...
  • Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is both highly gentrified and overrun with deer.
  • Sheila House, a real-estate agent near St. Louis, MO, USA.
  • Chuck is short for Charles, which means manly. Chuck Norris....
  • Karl Schwarzschild ("black shield"), black hole physicist. Doubly apt.
  • Mikhail Botwinnik, world chess champion. Also pioneer on chess computers. Today the "bot" wins all the time...
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