Vet Talk

Are You an Aptronym, Too?

Hi, I'm Dr. Woolf, like the animal

Published: April 09, 2021
Dr. Wolf will see you now. Photo courtesy of Depositphotos

Some people are born to do what they do. Some of us are even lucky enough to have names to match. An aptronym is a name that particularly suits the owner of the name. Consider a recent story about the new finance director of Shoe Zone in the U.K. They have announced that Terry Boot will be taking over from the previous financial director, Peter Foot.

Or perhaps you're familiar with Usain Bolt, an Olympic gold medalist sprinter. Sometimes, the name alone isn't remarkable, until it is combined with others to form a company. Perhaps you've heard of the infamous, fictious, law firm of Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. I'm sure you can imagine others you may have met or would like to meet.

With a last name like Woolf, it seems I was destined to become a veterinarian. And I'm in good company. My colleagues Drs. Wolf, Wolfe, and Wolff felt the same way. As did my colleagues Drs. Fox, Peacock, and Parrott. All of us are veterinarians!

What is it like having an aptronym as a name? Certainly, it's memorable. I introduced myself to clients with, “Hi, I'm Dr. Woolf, like the animal.” Most just found it amusing. Occasionally, it'd be met with howls (get it?) of laughter. When I worked at a cats-only clinic, it sometimes led to exaggerated reassurance to the patient the client was bringing in: “Don't worry, Fluffy. Dr. Woolf is here to help you, not eat you.”

Of course, some names are easier to have in this regard. Dr. Wigglesworth says clients think he should just work with puppies all day. Dr. Kind is held in high regard by clients and colleagues alike. But Dr. Payne has a harder time as she may receive a few more negative comments.

For some, the names are best when grouped together. For instance, at the practice of Drs. Spaid and Cather, they are sometimes mistaken for Drs. Spayed and Catheter. A truly happy practice could be found at Drs. Saxe, Love, and Valentine. And it's a shame Drs. Berger and Fries didn't go into practice together; what a marketing opportunity!

At times, the name alone isn't remarkable but the specialty of the veterinarian makes it so. All pets should experience the calming anesthesia protocols of Dr. Tranquilli. And I'm sure Dr. Sanders and Dr. Peckham wouldn't be as memorable as anything other than poultry veterinarians. How purrfect would it be to take your kitty to a cat clinic owned by Dr. Sylvester or Dr. Katz? Or the highly regarded swine veterinarians, Dr. Hogg and Dr. Ham? Then there are Dr. Herd, the large animal veterinarian, and Dr. Heard, the wildlife veterinarian. And who else should work on your horse besides Dr. Trotter?

Being an aptronym does bring laughter to daily practice. Now if I could just get everyone to spell my name correctly.

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