Learned Hand

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The only things greater than his "learned hands" were his bountiful eyebrows.

Billings Learned Hand (1872-1961), a United States judge and judicial philosopher, had a brilliant legal mind and has been quoted more often than any other lower-court judge by legal scholars and the US Supreme Court.

Named after his uncle and grandfather (both named Billings Peck Learned), Hand attended Harvard, where he became a member of the school’s Hasty Pudding Club (an on-campus social group) and also appeared in a school musical as a blond-wigged chorus girl.

Hand was known as a strong defender of civil liberties, and made many important decisions concerning the right to free speech. He was also fascinated by patent law.

It makes sense that people born with bizarrely worded names – Outerbridge Horsey III, Archibald Hall Throckmorton, Salmon P. Chase, and now Learned Hand – would be naturally gifted in deciphering the notoriously bizarre terminology of the legal field.

Whatever the topic, Hand was an excellent writer whose work continues to be referenced to this day, making his work a handy  resource for the learned men and women in charge of important legal decisions.

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About Rob

Huge San Diego Padres fan, working as an economic consultant in Pasadena, CA. Contributor to the Funny Names Blog. funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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32 Responses to Learned Hand

  1. Handsome eyebrows! 🙂

  2. Eyebrows or Toupee’s ? Thank goodness he was brilliant and talented! If he was just an ordinary guy with the name Learned Hand things would probably not be good.

    • Dave says:

      Haha, great question, and as for his prognosis if he weren’t so smart and talented: you’re probably right. This brings up an interesting question I’ve been wondering about. I’ve always believed that the person, not the name, is the main driver of someone’s destiny, but how much does the name influence the person? Did his name have anything to do with him becoming such a learned scholar, or perhaps affect his evenhanded ​decisionmaking, or his handsomeness?

      What are your thoughts?

      • You really had me thinking about this question. I’m not sure if it’s personal judgement that factors in or if there really is something in a name. For me when I hear a name that is Thaddeus, my first thought would be “wow, that’s a strong name”, but I couldn’t tell you why I have that thought, I just do. The same thing goes for hearing ridiculous names like Placenta and Bejesus. Oh, I need to know the back story and I feel compelled to ask. Those names are interesting, but not fame worthy. I always try to put Dr. in front of a name as my personal test..Dr. Bejesus…is a fail. So, to answer your question, as much as I think I believe in the person, I have to admit that my initial judgement on a name like Placenta would be negative, however I think the environment you are in also plays a huge part in your success or failure. Hope that was helpful!

        • Dave says:

          These are the age-old questions Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were wondering about, and I’m glad to hear that you found that question interesting as well. “Thaddeus” is a strong-sounding name, although names like Congressman “Thaddeus McCotter” still sound funny. I’ve never met a person named Placenta, but a man can always dream…

          I think that you’re right that there are factors beyond the funniness of one’s name that play into a person’s awesomeness, as much as I hate to admit that. Actually, given how boring my own name is, maybe that’s a good thing. When I become a doctor, I’ll have to seriously consider changing my name to Dr. Bejesus.

          One of the things I said in this comment wasn’t true. 🙂

          • Dave says:

            Actually, I just re-read my last comment, and maybe it’s two things that weren’t true.

          • Hahahahaha … I’ll assume the Greek gods questioning these things is the lie, because you could so rock the Dr. BeJesus name. We recently had a Robin Hood, III come into our office, but he called himself Christopher…seriously, unless you really are “Robin Hood” or have “Robin Hood” qualities it’s just weird. I wanted him to be a Social Worker so bad, but he was an IT guy..not very Robin Hoodish.

  3. I have just found your blog, and already I love it. Your language is both delicious and direct, funny and informative. Thanks for peeking in on my own blog, which I hope holds your interest.

  4. Wow, you could knit a sweater out of those eyebrows. 🙂

  5. Hi Rob, what a wonderful concept for a blog. I love the historical perspective AND the perfect length of the lesson. Throw in a little humor and you’ve got a winning formula! History can become bogged down and boring in the wrong hands (excuse that one), but these little snippets are definitely fun.

    I love that this Mr. Hand played a woman- with those eyebrows, he would have been quite frightening! As for his photo, I find him very attractive. I’ve always had a thing for men who look serious on the outside but are funny & brilliant on the inside!

    I notice that you are holding what looks like a brain in your gravatar photo and that you are a physiology and neuroscience student. How refreshing to find a young mind that is open to the possibilities of the TRUTH in science. I was a biochemistry major. When I saw the periodic chart, I experienced my first sense of worship toward God. Studying the replication of DNA was my next great moment of awe. The more I know, the more I am impressed. As a designer, I stand in awe at the simplicity of his design- and the amazing complexity of life that results from it. Create a few elements, throw in a few laws and wha-lah! A sturdy-as-hell system that self perpetuates for… infinity! The day mankind can create a design, a system, like that is the day I will give him credibility as a scientist. As it is, I think science should be called ‘uncovery’, not discovery. Thoughts?

    • Dave says:

      Very cool! I’m actually the physiology and neuroscience major and “brain holder” – Rob is my brother and our newest writer. Arto – the Finnish guy – is the other founder of this blog.

      Anyways, I love the “hand” pun – I’ll admit I added a few of those last night while editing Rob’s well-written post. It sounds like you thought Mr. Hand was quite “hand”some… 😉

      I noticed you mentioned the “perfect length.” Rob is very good at that. Arto and I can go a bit long, so it’s great to have Rob around to keep us honest.

      The periodic table is an incredible and very oddly logical thing, although I’m spending a lot of my time right now studying the bizarre exceptions to its otherwise-straightforward rules.

      I think “uncovery’ is a great term for it! I’m just hoping I can uncover enough of it to do well on the MCAT on May 31st and continue my voyage of uncovery.

      Thanks for the kind words and the comment!

  6. Lol i love this blog! The idea of celebrating funny/awesome names is great

    • Dave says:

      Haha, it makes sense that someone named “The Corn Goblin” would appreciate the work we do here on the Funny Names Blog. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Paws To Talk says:

    Wow! Bernard Learned Hand. We wonder if there is anyone out there with “paw” in their name.

    Bella and DiDi

    • Dave says:

      Thanks! His name was actually Billings, but given that the post was written by two canines, I understand why “Bernard” was the “B” name of choice 🙂

      Believe it or not, I did a search of our entire list of 1000+ names and didn’t find a single one with “paw” anywhere in its name. The closest one I can think of is Linus Pauling, who (along with Marie Curie) is one of only two people to ever win Nobel Prizes in two different categories. He won the Chemistry and Peace prizes.

  8. Love the chosen copy under his photo!

    • Dave says:

      Thanks! Even though Rob wrote the post, I decided to throw that caption in there at the last second because eyebrows like that deserve their own caption.

  9. unclerave says:

    What a wonderfully quirky blog you have here! Keep up the great work, Dave!

  10. Joe Pineda says:

    Wow. What a ridiculous story, but also very interesting. I love the concept of the entire blog, actually. It’s one of those projects where you know for certain that the author is having as much fun as the reader.

    • Dave says:

      Yes we are! All three of us lead busy lives and the Funny Names Blog is one of those wonderful hobbies that lets us take our minds off of important things for a little while. Writing a new post about a funny named person every day (many of whom we have to research and learn about their fields) is a fun little challenge, with seemingly endless possibilities. Thanks for the kind words and for visiting our humble, but growing, blog.

      P.S. I just started following you after taking a good look at your blog (previously, I had just seen your most recent post under the “Art” tag). You have some interesting insights. Keep it up. Here’s to two young blogs, growing mighty together!

  11. Pingback: Dick Dickey « The Blog of Funny Names

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