Where/when nominative determinism got its name

Nominative determinism is always worth another look. Wikipedia gives a good overview of the concept. John Hoyland, creator and editor of the “Feedback” column in New Scientist magazine, coined the term. If you have come to Ig Nobel UK-tour shows in London and elsewhere in recent years, chances are good you saw Hoyland both explain both the history and give some freshly-found examples. Here’s a bit of Wikipedia‘s writeup (which in its full incarnation includes a long list of examples):

Nominative determinism refers to the theory that a person’s name is given an influential role in reflecting key attributes of their job, profession, or general life. It was a commonly held philosophy in the ancient world….

The term Nominative Determinism is a coinage of the Feedback column in the British popular science journal New Scientist, stemming from this item in 1994:

“WE recently came across a new book, Pole Positions – The Polar Regions and the Future of the Planet, by Daniel Snowman. Then, a couple of weeks later, we received a copy of London Under London – A Subterranean Guide, one of the authors of which is Richard Trench. So it was interesting to see Jen Hunt of the University of Manchester stating in the October issue of The Psychologist: “Authors gravitate to the area of research which fits their surname.” Hunt’s example is an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology (vol 49, pp 173-176, 1977) by J. W. Splatt and D. Weedon.[2] (This really does exist. We’ve checked it).”[3] 

(Thanks to investigator Vaughn Tan for suggesting we revisit this splendid concept.)

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