I found in some other languages such as Chinese an interesting idiom which describes some people; for example, when you see a person is named "Smart" and he/she is really smart, one would say: "a name fits his person" as a literal translation.

I would like to see if there is some specific phrase, idiom or proverb to describe such a situation.

  • 5
    I would probably say His name suits him. – Anonym Nov 23 '15 at 9:15
  • if there is a single-word, that will be nicer. – user3073328 Nov 23 '15 at 16:44

11 Answers 11


Consider the phrase aptly named:

A dog called Snoozy who lies around on the couch all day is aptly named...


aptly named/described/called etc: named, described etc in a way that seems very suitable

The aptly named Skyline Restaurant provides spectacular views of the city below.


We ​spent a ​week at the aptly ​named Grand View Hotel.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • 2
    I was just about to upvote when I noticed that we've got the same handle... eerie... – A.P. Nov 24 '15 at 19:37


They didn't call you [Smart] for nothing!

Spanish Language StackExchange

[Smart], you sure live up to your name.

live up to something: to be as good as you said or thought something >would be. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms.

Angel, you sure live up to your name. Limestone

[Smart], your name fits you to a tee/like a glove.

to a tee: exactly; perfectly AHD

Quite a suitable/well chosen/appropriate/apposite name, indeed.

apposite: appropriate or relevant : chose an apposite name for the dog; felt the comments were not apposite to the discussion. [Latin appositus, past participle of appōnere, to put near : ad-, ad- + pōnere, to put; see apo- in Indo-European roots.] American Heritage® Dictionary

Couldn't think of a better name!

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    "live up to your name" is a good phrase and if this answer featured that phrase alone, I'd upvote. – James Nov 25 '15 at 13:31

Such a name can be called a euonym:

a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named

Source: Merriam-Webster


It might be worth looking at the hypothesis of nominative determinism.

  • 3
    +1 for this. A doctor friend had a tutor in neurology called Professor Brain and another in urology called Dr Wee. – AJP Nov 23 '15 at 12:19
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    If only Dr Wee was based in scotland! "The wee wee doctor Doctor Wee". – SeanR Nov 24 '15 at 13:18
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    Please give an explanation of the phrase. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 24 '15 at 14:44
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    You've been here long enough to know that single-word answers, or in this case, two words, are not exactly what SE or EL&U is about. Either I see the term nominative determinism and it means nothing to me, or I recognize it and say "Yes! That's it" Links have a habit of disappearing or rotting, or Wikipedia one day might not be "free" any more, and you'll need a subscription in order to view their pages. – Mari-Lou A Nov 24 '15 at 21:08
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    How about a definition and a reference for the link (so when syndicated in a non-HTML location the source stays with the text)? – ErikE Nov 25 '15 at 16:26

In this case, one must refer to Latin: Nomen est omen.


I've always said aptonym, but aptronym and euonym seem to work too.

Concerning aptronym, Gary Nunn of The Guardian published an article in 2014 which said:

Mark Reckless is an aptronym: a name particularly suited to its owner. The official definition is a name that is particularly appropriate to the person’s profession. However, it appears to be broadening to a name aptly suited to the owner’s behaviour, character, looks or occupation.

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    +1 for aptronym, which is precisely what this is. Note: you linked aptonym to the ODO entry for aptronym (which is then there twice). Aptonym is not a word I've ever heard used (though I see Wiktionary does have it). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 25 '15 at 9:35
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    Oxforddictionaries.com lists aptonym as an alternative to aptronym, but doesn't give it it's own entry. That's why I linked to the same entry twice. As you say, aptonyn does get its own entry in the wiktionary en.wiktionary.org/wiki/aptonym ; I could have linked there, but oxforddictionaries.com seemed more authoritative. – Theodore Norvell Nov 25 '15 at 14:59

Aptly named is the phrase.

She is aptly named Grace Chew, because she chews her food gracefully.

The region is aptly named the panhandle, because not only does it look like a panhandle on the outline map of Florida, they also have a significant population of panhandlers (aka beggars).

The mansion is aptly named Bellmoral Castle, because the morality of activities going on in there rings like a loud bell.


Also found in: Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia. apt (ăpt)

  1. Exactly suitable; appropriate: an apt reply.
  2. Having a natural tendency; inclined: She is apt to take offense easily. See Usage Note at liable.
  3. Quick to learn or understand: an apt student. [Middle English, from Old French apte, from Latin aptus, past participle of apere, to fasten.]

apt′ly adv.
apt′ness n.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • 3
    This was suggested at least an hour and a half earlier. Why would you post an essentially identical answer? Just curious, perhaps there's a legit reason. – A.P. Nov 23 '15 at 11:54
  • I think my posting was somehow delayed, together with the fact that I was performing late night coding in between typing this in. When I first started, the other entry was not present. – Blessed Geek Nov 23 '15 at 15:43
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    Next time, I should key in a one paragraph answer first and edit it later, perhaps to place a stake? Or not. I prefer not. – Blessed Geek Nov 23 '15 at 15:52

You can use become :

The name "Smart" becomes this person; Smart is a becoming name for him/her.

I was just going to ask the exact same question to find a word or phrase other than becoming and suitable. I think aptly named is the best so far, explained in A.P.'s answer.

  • Similarly, fit and fitting – talrnu Nov 24 '15 at 2:44

There's also the less common phrase, "X by name, X by nature."

Smart by name, Smart by nature.

It's an odd phrasing but more simply means that Smart is their name and Smart is their nature.

  • 1
    I Googled this phrase, using * by name * by nature, and found some very interesting examples of this phenomenon. – J.R. Nov 24 '15 at 22:17

Rarely used for people, but for products and other objects, you can say the object is “what it says on the tin.”

This refers to a product that comes in some packagin, “the tin,” and “what it says on the tin” is typically the name of the product. So the phrase means that a product does just what you would expect it to, given its name.

Per Wiktionary:

  1. (idiomatic, Britain, Ireland) What is described or what one would expect with no further explanation needed.

From the same source, I learned that its origins are from the 1990s, as an advertisement for Ronseal in the UK. I’m from America, have never heard of Ronseal or seen these ads, but it was definitely the first thing to come to mind on seeing the question.

  • This isn't quite right. As someone from Ireland who grew up seeing these ads, the phrase is about the product being simple and straightforward. Something doing what it says on the tin is plain and no-nonsense. The focus isn't on the name reflecting its nature. – SuperBiasedMan Nov 23 '15 at 16:41
  • @SuperBiasedMan Maybe as originally used, perhaps. Wiktionary does seem to bear that out. However, in the usage I have seen, it is very much about the product doing exactly what the name says it does. – KRyan Nov 23 '15 at 16:43
  • Similarly "Truth in labeling" – InfernalRapture Nov 23 '15 at 17:21

If someone's name is attributed to some noun because of that person, the noun can be described as eponymous.

In a work named after a character who appears in the work, the person can then also be described as the eponymous character of that work.

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