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University of Michigan Law School

2012

Journal

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Aptonyms

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What's In A Name? A Brief Study Of Legal Aptonyms, Aaron Zelinsky May 2012

What's In A Name? A Brief Study Of Legal Aptonyms, Aaron Zelinsky

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Law and literature ranges wide. Scholars use Shakespeare to illuminate issues of justice, Dickens to understand trusts and estates, and J.K. Rowling to explain the law of nations. But an important subset of this field has been hitherto neglected: the study of the names of law's protagonists-law and onomastics. This Essay takes the first step into this promising arena by identifying a previously unexplored category of cases, which it dubs "legal aptonyms." Many are familiar with aptonyms but lack the vocabulary to describe them. Aptonyms—literally "apt names"—are those proper names that are "regarded as (humorously) appropriate ...