Wednesday 17 February 2010


Corey Wild (catchphrase: Wild by name, wild by nature) is being touted as the new Crocodile Hunter after Irwin died from a stingray barb.
   - Today's Metro

Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him:  
   - 1 Samuel 25:25 [Nabal was Hebrew for fool]

There is, dear reader, a word for everything. Punning on somebody's name is a rhetorical trick called adnominatio and has been going on, it would seem, since at least the time of King David in the eleventh century BC. Adnominatio is, literally, to the name, so the figure takes the name literally. There were several incredibly witty uses of adnominatio on the name of America's last president such as the bumper sticker: "The only bush I trust is my own". Shakespeare uses adnominatio to utterly bloody hysterical effect in Henry IV part 2:

FALSTAFF: Is thy name Mouldy?

MOULDY: Yea, an't please you.

FALSTAFF: 'Tis the more time thou wert used.

SHALLOW: Ha, ha, ha! most excellent, i' faith! Things that are mouldy lack use: very singular good! in faith, well said, Sir John, very well said.

So, to be fair, he didn't mean it. But isn't it good to know that there is a golden thread of adnominatio connecting King David, William Shakespeare and Corey Wild?

Pope was a Catholic


  1. Closely related to nominative determinism, of which my favourite example is almost Reg Empey, except that he's an MLA rather than an MP.

  2. It's a good thing P.M.S. Hacker stuck to writing books on Wittgenstein.
    I wonder what Corey thinks of Oscar.

  3. What is the status of adnominatio in cultures where anglo-saxon maiden names (based on trades or your position within the dragoons etc) are used as given names?

    Presumably district court judge and legal philosopher Billings Learned Hand did not have to endure comments from punsters and hilarious people.

    How would Learned Hand and his circle have reacted to Falstaffs joke in a say 1950's production of Henry IV? Would they feel uneasy and exposed or just assume the joke was totally on someone else?

  4. Or, and this is the most interesting possibility, would they perhaps not understand the joke at all?