You say Aptonym; and I say Aptronym. Or Maybe Just Coincidence.

Readers of the Iliad or the Odyssey will remember Nestor as the oldest man in the Trojan War–a lovable, loquacious councilor (or ancient, rambling codger–depending on your taste).

While perusing YLE Radio 1’s Nuntii Latini, I came across a story about the word’s oldest man, a 116-year-old Ukrainian shepherd by the name Gregory Nestor.

Gregori Nestor, pastor Ucrainus, qui vir in orbe terrarum veterrimus habebatur, centum sedecim annos natus in urbe Stari Jaritshiv Ucrainae occidentalis nuper (15.12.) diem obiit supremum.

De secreto longaevitatis suae quaerentibus responderat: “Si uxorem habuissem, iam multis annis ante in cista funerali positus essem.” Praeter caelibatum, etiam modus vitae Spartiacus valetudini Nestoris serviebat. Non fumificabat, alcoholo parcissime utebatur, cibis salubribus vescebatur, constanter orabat et paenitentiam exercebat. Adhuc centenarius pecora pascebat et usque ad finem vitae sine perspicillo legebat. Natus erat Idibus Martiis anno millesimo octingentesimo nonagesimo primo.

Although this modern Nestor has yet to live for three generations of men like his eponym, he does share his proclivity for chatting (“constanter orabat“).

But does being a garrulous old man mean that Gregory Nestor’s name is so apt as to be an aptonym? In The Study of Names (1992) Frank Nuessel defines an aptonym as belonging to “people whose names and occupations or situations (e.g., workplace) have a close correspondence.” So, while the names of the D.C. bureau chief for CNN Bill Headline or shop owner Flora Gardner are certainly aptonyms, I’m not sure our modern Nestor quite fits the bill.

Unless more of us to read Homer. And that would certainly be apt.

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