I thought of this after seeing a news article about 星出{ほしで}彰彦{あきひこ}, who is an astronaut.

Aptronym is a term for a name (often the surname) that fits a person's occupation or personality. A classic example is "Igor Judge" (a British judge, also known as Lord Judge), but the name doesn't have to be precisely the same as the occupation, for example, a florist with the surname "Flowers" or a chef with the surname "Spoon" would count.

In English the term "aptronym" is not widely used (I think it was relatively recently coined) but phrases such as "aptly named~" "fittingly named~" "an apt name" "a fitting name" might be. In Japanese, how would one best describe a name that fits the owner?

I had one thought: 仕事にぴったりな名前

I have found some indications that this is possible including one direct mention of 星出さん:

  1. On the blog of a ikebana instructor called 花香, she mentions often getting the comment 「お花の仕事にぴったりな名前ですね」
  2. 星出さんなんて 宇宙飛行士{うちゅうひこうし}にぴったりな名前 (on twitter)

However I'd like to know if there are other terms (ふさわしい?合う?) that are used, and if there is a coined term like "aptronym" used in Japanese. Famous examples (real or fictional) would also be welcome.

  • I wonder if every language has its "aptronym".
    – taylor
    Jul 27, 2012 at 15:47
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    For European names, it should be common because the origin of the family name is usually the occupation.
    – user458
    Jul 27, 2012 at 15:50
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    @sawa You're probably right in that this is going to be more common in countries where there are a lot of occupational surnames. I am sure "The Wrights were Right" is an obvious enough pun that somebody has made it already, but there's an even better link - "Wright" is an occupational surname referring to someone who constructs something also seen mostly in compound words: a wheelwright makes wheels, a shipwright makes ships, and a playwright writes plays. The word planewright doesn't exist but the Wrights could still be called wrights.
    – nkjt
    Jul 27, 2012 at 16:30
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    That's a pen name, though.
    – Zhen Lin
    Jul 28, 2012 at 2:43
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    大毅 Jul 28, 2012 at 8:36

4 Answers 4


I don't really like to bring up the subject of anime or manga as an example, yet the first character that came to my mind was 夜神 月(ライト) from "Death Note". There is a subculture that has made many references to the character's name such as ライト signifying 光/正 due to his intelligence and sense of justice. As well as 神 indicating that he acts in the way a god might having control over a person's existence.

As far as I know, the term that I noticed most associated with this was "相応しい" as you indicated before. In the context of fiction, someone might ask what the origins of the name are or 由来.

There also exists a completely different context of "fitting names" that is different than what you are asking, but I think it might be useful to include. Maybe you have heard of some Japanese fitting certain readings to kanji composed names that are not standard. For example, 光中 ー> ぴかちゅう. The slang term for this is どきゅん or DQN. ぴったり as well as 相応しい are also used to describe this situation where readings "fit" the name.

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    Fictional examples are fair game since I think this is a fairly often-used technique. Terry Pratchett named a character who becomes Death's apprentice 'Mort'. ;) I always thought DQNネーム referred to rather daft names, like 光中{ぴかちゅう} given to kids, and どきゅん/DQN was an insult directed at the sort of person who'd name their kid after an anime character.
    – nkjt
    Jul 28, 2012 at 13:34
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    That sounds about right. It should be DQNネーム as you said.
    – Chris
    Jul 28, 2012 at 17:18

I remember reading when I was a high school student an auto-biography of a mathematician named 矢野健太郎. His specialization was differential geometry. He introduced his name to his colleagues that it means "vector field" (矢野).


There is Kentaro Goto and Naohisa Goto, as well as a GOTOU Yuuzou as Ruby (the programming language) developers. I don't think any of them are considered harmful, though.

I think that Satō may be a good candidate for an aptronym, for cooking-related professions.

Short track speed skater Apolo Ohno inherited his surname from Yuki Ohno (大野 幸). In the 2002 Winter Olympics, he came second due to a four-person crash in the 1000 metres final, leading to some "Oh no" jokes.

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    You would be a good candidate if you were a dictionary editor.
    – user458
    Jul 31, 2012 at 11:07

Separate answer for this one, in case people don't like it:

ジュリアン・ブランク (English Wikipedia link) is a Pick Up Artist (ナンパ). His attitudes towards women as a whole are odious, but he's best known in Australia for saying about Japan women that "If you're a white male, you can do what you want" to them.

"ブラン" (without the ク) is used in モンブラン to refer to Mont Blanc, or "white mountain", and "ブラ" (without ンク) is used in ブラマンジェ to refer to Blancmange, which means "white dish"). The word ブランク means "blank" in Japanese.

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