Announcing the Winners of Our Aptonym Contest

Last week, I blogged about a magazine fact-checker named Paige Worthy and asked you to submit your best aptonyms. You responded mightily, with nearly 300 submissions. Judging from this sample, the dentists, proctologists, and eye doctors of America seem particularly prone to aptonymous behavior. Below you will find the best submissions. As promised, the readers who sent them will receive a Freakonomics prize: either a signed copy of the book, a Freakonomics yo-yo, or this just-released 2008 Freakonomics fact-a-day calendar. But first, a little more information about the person who got this all started, Paige Worthy:

Yes, she is real, and that is her real name. Not only is she a researcher for Good magazine, but she is also a copy editor for Ride and King magazines, both of which are geared toward a black male readership. The first is a car magazine; the second is a lad magazine, apparently referred to in some quarters as Blaxim. “I’m a white girl, by the way,” Paige wrote in to say. She lives in New York and is originally from Kansas City — where, she says, “I worked at a little community outfit called the Sun Tribune Newspapers, where I was a copy editor and page designer, so my name was doubly apt at that point.”

So, because she is real and because her name is the perfect aptonym, Paige Worthy definitely gets whatever Freakonomics prize she wants. The other winners:

Limberhand the Masturbator: A reader named Robbie wrote in to tell of an Idaho court case about expected privacy in a public restroom stall. This was in relation to the Larry Craig brouhaha. Here’s a brief excerpt from the Idaho case:

The defendant was arrested for obscene conduct after an officer observed him, through a four-inch hole in a stall partition, masturbating in a public restroom. This Court determined that Limberhand had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the restroom stall notwithstanding the existence of the hole.” That’s right, the man in the stall, caught masturbating, was named Limberhand.

(Hat tips: Opinionator and

(Honorable mention in the below-the-belt aptonym category goes to the reader who wrote this: “I once edited a medical journal article about penile lengthening, written by Dr. Bob Stubbs. Best of all, he learned his technique from a Chinese plastic surgeon, Dr. Long.”)

Eikenberry the Funeral Director:

A reader named Paul A. wrote this: “In Peru, Indiana, there’s a funeral home director whose last name is ‘Eikenberry’ (pronounced ‘I can bury’). He’s actually part of a partnership, and the funeral home is called (drumroll, please), ‘Eikenberry Eddy.'”

(Honorable mention in the Six Feet Under category to the reader who writes this: “In my hometown [Amarillo, TX], there is a funeral director called Boxwell Brothers. This one can’t be beat.”

Justin Case the Insurance Guy:

I’m not sure this one is real but I will assume that Kyle S., the reader who sent it in, is an honest man: “My State Farm agent’s name is Justin Case…” Enough said.

And finally, though I said we’d give just three prizes, there were so many aptonymous dentists that I think we have to stretch the winners to four. Here’s my favorite:

Chip Silvertooth:

A reader named Scott Moonen writes: “My former dentist was named Eugene Silvertooth. From childhood he had the nickname Chip Silvertooth.”

And the dentist honorable mention goes to reader Anshuman: “Unfortunately, I moved away from San Francisco and had to leave my dentist, Dr. Les Plack. He was born for the job, right?”

Thanks to everyone for playing. If you are a winner, we will contact you by the e-mail address you used when you left your comment. If that e-mail isn’t real, please send your contact info to


My husband once went to a dematologist in Memphis named Dr. Whitehead


High school gym teacher: Jim Sock
High school music instructor: Stafford Horne

Thomas B.

Long before I knew there was a term for this I always got a kick out of the fact the at one point President Reagan's spokesperson was Larry Speaks.

Paul O.

In little Lynchburg, VA (best known for Falwell's Liberty University), resides an engineering company with the Stooges-esc name of Hurt & Profitt. Nice guys, though.

I met Mr. Profitt at an engineering conference where he told me a joke about moving to Lynchburg after WWII. He was not excited about moving to the small town. Lynchburg's premier hotel at the time was the Hotel Virginia located on the Jamer River, next the Hwy 29 bridge. The night Mr. Profitt crossed the bridge into town, the hotel's sign was malfunctioning, the last two letters of each word not burning. He felt better about Lynchburg, seeing that they advertised 'Hot Virgin.'


Hamish Risk of Bloomberg News writes about credit-default swaps, fancy financial instruments that let investors protect themselves from the risk that companies won't be able to repay their debt.


Oh, and yet another one I've just found: A veterinarian specialized in cats... named Rubén Gatti ("Gatti"= "Cats" in Italian).


I doubt "Justin Case" is real. The same name is used in promos that run for Allstate on "Car Talk" on NPR--aptonyms are a long running joke on that program.


When looking into getting money for college, I talked to a Marine Recruiter named Sergeant Pain.


There is a urologist in the Washington DC area named Dr. Peter Gross. How marvellously unfortunate!


My urologist's name is Richard Chopp (Dick Chopp). He says he's received a lot of flack for his name. I guess so...


I just found this aptonym:

I wish I found it in time for the contest.


I just stumbled upon it: the famous American judge named.....Learned Hand!


I went to a urologist in New Jersey named Dr. Seamen. During a surgical procedure to remove sperm from me for IVF the anesthesiologist was a guy named Dr. Pena (pronounced pain-ya). So right before I went under anesthesia the urologist said "Don't worry, we have Dr. Seamen for your semen and Dr. Pena for your Pain!"


Little late to the party, but I used to live about a 2 miles from the OBGYN Dr. Beaver. I cannot swear to it, but I'm pretty sure his middle initial was C (used to ride my bike past his house regularly, where his shingle hung), which should give him the prize.


Former Sheriff in Jourdanton TX: Half Coward
Insurance agent for State Farm: Posthumous


Sheriff Half Coward was also an amputee--missing a hand that he lost in a gun fight with bank robbers. He would come to the local school and give lectures on good behavior--while doing so he'd crush a very large cigar in half with his hooked pinchers.

tag hag

the bbc has a journalist named jonah fisher who is reporting on japanese whaling.


My dad's urologist is named -and he discovered this directly before getting his first prostate exam involving a catheter- Dr. William (Dick) Chop.


25 years ago, I had a dentist named Dr. Payne. He sent me to Dr. Cocayne to have my wisdom teeth removed.


So, what's the opposite of an aptonymn? :)

I worked for a tire company some years back. Right under my name in the company Outlook address book was a "Rusty Nail". Talk about something that a tire company should probably stay away from! :)