Funny Names Theory

Here at the Funny Names Blog, we don’t consider ourselves humor writers – we are historians and explorers seeking to enrich the world and contribute to the understanding and advancement of the exciting new field of funnynameology. We are pioneers.

As part of our efforts in this emerging academic discipline, we occasionally reach new epiphanies that signify a quantum leap forward in nominal knowledge. Like all responsible scientists, we recognize that we must publish our work and share it with the world. Since science presently contains a massive void in journals addressing funnynameology, we have designated this page as the official repository of all significant breakthroughs in Funny Names Theory.

Funny Names Theory

Nominative Determinism

We at the blog of funny names are strong believers in the theory of nominative determinism – which has advanced from hypothesis to theory, and states that people with awesome names end up accomplishing awesome things!

For case studies, check out this blog, and its ever-expanding archives from A to Z!

The Outerbridge Horsey Certainty Principle

Part 1: In the beginning, there was Outerbridge Horsey.

Part 2: Outerbridge Horsey is the standard by which all funny names are measured.

Outerbridge Horsey VII, seen here posing with canines, owns a successful architectural firm. He is one of many notable members of the Outerbridge Horsey lineage.

Every system of measurement requires a standard by which all other measurements can be referenced. For most of its history, the metric system used a one-meter long bar of platinum at the freezing temperature of water as its standard. For the Funny Names Blog, Outerbridge Horsey is our de facto bar of platinum-iridium alloy.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Over five years ago, it was the name that inspired the creation of the Funny Names List that eventually led to this blog.
  • The original Outerbridge Horsey was born in Maryland in 1715, sixty years before the original 13 U.S. colonies had declared independence from the British. Outerbridge Horsey VII is alive today. While most names have to be examined in the context of their particular time period, Outerbridge Horsey provides a benchmark for nearly 300 years of funny name history. No other name we have encountered has that kind of staying power, with the slightly less-accomplished – and slightly less-amusing – lineage of Return J. Meigs (which started 35 years later) its closest known competitor.
  • The name has always been unusual. While names like Archibald, Gladys, or Skylar can be considered normal by some people and strange by others, there was never a period where Outerbridge didn’t raise eyebrows.
  • For any person to have the funniest name in the world since 1715, it would have to pass the Outerbridge Horsey test. While it is all subjective, and there are definitely some names that can make a strong and valid claim to that title, we have yet to find a name that has had an obvious edge over Outerbridge Horsey.

The S.E.O. Confusion Conclusion

Dave predicts he’ll pick up more girls at bars now that he can introduce himself as “the Tycho Brahe of funnynameology.” We haven’t yet collected sufficient data to verify this claim.

People can talk all they want about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but there’s no way of telling how people will find the Funny Names Blog.

Proof: As of mid-April 2012, the all-time Google search queries that have brought us the most traffic:

  • Anything related to Taffy Nivert or her death…even though she’s alive (taffy nivert, taffy nivert dead, taffy nivert death, taffy nivert obituary, where is taffy nivert now). Before we started actively publicizing this blog, the Taffy Nivert article was responsible for 55% of all of our traffic. taffy nivert and taffy nivert death are still our #1 and #3 all-time search results.*
  • Searches for People’s Names (the top 7 are megalyn echikunwoke, bert sugar, izzy skenazy, bitsie tulloch, jared spurgeon, clayton stoner, wallace wattles)
  • Anything related to Cal Clutterbuck and his mustache (cal clutterbuck funny, cal clutterbuck mustache, clutterbuck mustache, calvin clutterbuck, wild mustache, mn wild clutterbuck)
  • Funny-named architect queries (funny names for architects, funny architect names, humorous architect names, funny name for architect). In case you’re wondering, there is only one funny architect name you need to know: Outerbridge Horsey VII
  • Otter (otter). Seriously, the one-word search “otter” is 10th all-time, behind only taffy nivert, taffy nivert death, and the 7 names listed in the second bullet.
  • Funny names blog and blog of funny names. Either 1) we’re starting to generate our own traffic now that more people have started discovering our blog, or 2) we’re finally beginning to capture a segment of the lucrative “funny names blog search” market. We hope it’s a little bit of both.

*(as of May 2012, Megalyn Echikunwoke has moved up to the number one spot, putting Taffy and her death at #2 and #3.)
*(August 2012 update: Saeid Mohammadpourkarkaragah and Funny Olympic Names are now the runaway favorites, for reasons explained here. We’re still keeping this Theory, though, because it’s fun.)
*(October 2012 update: Although the Olympics ones are still way ahead of the rest. Mullet fish and Giuseppe Garibaldi have been our most successful recent posts, and have surpassed Megalyn Echikunwoke, Fearne Cotton, and Taffy Nivert.)

Izzy or isn’t he the coolest funny-named kid alive today? Our verdict: he iz.

The Izzy Skenazy Postulate

This post proposed answers for two significant questions:

1. What’s the best way to get a funny name worthy of a spot on this blog?

Simple – it’s through an awesome parent, who gives you a name like Taffy, Gutzon, Bitsie or Salmon.  A good first name can singlehandedly make a name awesome, but it helps if your parents also had a whimsical last name like Vanderbilt, or if your dad, Outerbridge Horsey X, bequeaths you the name Outerbridge Horsey X+1.

2. What’s the best way to get onto this blog at age 14?

Well, unless you’re the child of a celebrity, in which case the “wacky name and a touch of fame” is yours at birth, then the best way is as follows: fulfill the requirements for question 1, be splendidly precocious, and have a parent like Lenore Skenazy who helps make you a star.

The Armstrong-McLish Allowance

A person whose birth name is funny enough to qualify for this blog may also have several funny nicknames, with no adverse effect on their success.

As evidenced by Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley “Dido” Armstrong and Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish (“Cal”, “Bus”, or “Buster”).

The Bramble Exception

However, when someone with an excellent birth name tempts fate by trying to legally change their name, they may experience a significant downturn in their success.

Supporting evidence: Livingstone Bramble, who was one of the greatest boxers in the world, and suddenly fell from stardom after his subsequent name change to Ras-I Alujah (a.k.a. Abuja) Bramble.

If it weren’t for the mustache, Livingstone Bramble would just be your average funny-named world boxing champion with a snake around his neck… and where’s the fun in that?

The Mustache Humor Summation

Mustache + Funny Name = Awesome Person

We don’t know if it’s the mustache that makes the person better, or whether it’s because we just really like mustaches (which is absolutely true), but the category of moustachioed, funny-named people is one of our favorites.

Evidence: Edward Drinker Cope, Cal Clutterbuck, Rollie Fingers, Binyamin Shlomo Hamburger, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Ras-I Alujah Abuja “Livingstone” Bramble (pictured), Gutzon Borglum, and many more.

The Bone Wars Settlement

If two people with equally funny names face off in some sort of competition, the winner of that competition can make a valid claim to funny name supremacy.

Examples: Othniel Marsh vs. Edward Drinker Cope, Kermit Cintron vs. Lovemore N’dou,  Livingstone Bramble vs. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

The Muffet McGraw Corollary

When a person with a funny legal name squares off against someone whose funny name is only a nickname, the legally-named individual tends to do better.

Evidence: “Muffet” McGraw’s team losing to Kimberly Duane Mulkey’s Baylor Bears in the 2012 NCAA women’s basketball championship game.

The Baldwin Churchill Rule

Having two last names as your full name is a surefire way to be considered for funny names glory.

This rule was first proposed for Baldwin H. Ward in our post Quick Hits: One Book – Twelve Funny Names, but is perhaps best exemplified by the great Churchill Babington.

… and he probably will.

The Kermit Can Kill Conjecture

People born with unusual names (especially boys named Kermit) often become some of the most hardcore tough guys (and gals) on the planet. It is theorized that this could be due to a natural response to early schoolyard heckling at the hands of unenlightened youths who have not yet learned the awesome power that the funny name holds.

Case Studies: Kermit “The Killer” Cintron and Kermit Washington, Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone, Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand, Dick Butkus, Kip Sopp, Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton

The Ed Balls Reflection

1. Vulgarity alone does not make a name funny. However, some vulgar-sounding names are very funny.

2. When used sparingly and with discretion, this humor has near-universal appeal.

3. We will exercise restraint and moderation, but will not shy away from posting about people named Ed Balls or Dick Dickey when we discover them.

The “Corneli Are Never Superfluous” Truism

If your name is Cornelis, Kornelis, or Cornelius, then you are awesome.

(Theory inspired by Amber of Words Become Superfluous)

Case Studies: Cornelius Crane “Chevy” Chase, Dr. Kornelis “Kees” A Schouhamer Immink, Cornelius K-9 Bundrage, Cornelius Drebbel, Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr., Cornelius Vanderbilt, Cornelius, North Carolina, Dr. Cornelis Bontekoe, the Tea Doctor, Cornelius McGillicuddy Sr.

The Ogden Nash Omission Prohibition

Writing poetry was Ogden’s way of giving these players his “stamp” of approval.

If funny named poet Ogden Nash wrote a stanza about a funny named baseball personality who is featured in one of Rob’s posts, that stanza will be featured at the end of the post.

…and Rob “ott” to follow it up with a comment saying “You go, [so and so]!”, and if he fails in either of these particulars, it shall be declared a balk, and will be followed by the universe exploding, or Rob’s beloved Padres finally winning the world series (which we’ve always expected would signify the end of the world anyway).

Case studies: “Mel” Ott, Tristram E Speaker, Cornelius McGillicuddy Sr., Denton True Young, Napoleon Lajoie

The Middle Name Acting Aphorism

Henry Cavill as Superman

He’s a superhero! How much more success do you want?

If you’re involved in show business, then there is a direct, positive correlation between the level of excellence* you will achieve in your career and the number of middle names that you have.

* the term “excellence” is totally subjective and the definition of such term will vary depending largely on the amount of caffeine certain funny names bloggers may or may not have consumed.

**The Middle Name Acting Aphorism Addendum**

If you’re involved in show business, have multiple middle names and a last name that’s longer than all of your first names combined, then Amb would like to marry you. Please. (Provided that a schedule can be worked out with Dave, of course).

Aphorism Case studies: Asa Maxwell Thorton Farr Butterfield, Henry William Dagliesh Cavill

Addendum Evidence: George Mark Paul Stroumboulopoulos  I don’t really have to explain the reasons behind this one, do I? love amb


The Arthur Lee Samuel Consequence:

If you have three first names, and you play a pivotal role in the development of machine learning, then machines will advance to the point where they can provide blog platforms and those blog platforms will be run by people, and those people and those machines will both be so grateful for your awesomeness!

Case study: Arthur Lee Samuel. See also: the associated theory, “The Baldwin Churchill” rule (above). Thank you to Fannie Cranium for this one!

The Thelonious Monk Self-Description Prescription Prediction:

The funny birth name of a creative innovator predicts the key characteristics of the creative innovator’s creative innovation.


Alternate formulation:
It is what it says and says is what it is.

Case study: Thelonious Sphere Monk. With a still modest sample size of one, the proofs for this theorem are nevertheless as robust as they are striking. Focus groups in double blind trials were asked to do word association with Monk’s name and Monk’s music, and the results consistently showed a one-to-one correlation. I mean, dude. Like, what are the odds?


66 Responses to Funny Names Theory

  1. notsowitty says:

    Extremely interesting, great addition to the blog!

    • Dave says:

      Thanks! It was my brainchild. I just kept coming up with funny rules and decided it needed its own page. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. nuvofelt says:

    I agree, great addition. I’ve linked from my blog.

    • Dave says:

      Thank you! Glad to hear it! I think I speak for all of us when I say we appreciate the support. It’s great to get positive feedback on experiments like this 🙂

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  6. rozzychan says:

    I apologize for being a fan girl, but what’s your opinion on Benedict Cumberbatch?

    The first name is occasionally in vogue, but the last name makes it that much more hilarious.

    • Dave says:

      That’s totally awesome that you bring him up! He’s been on our list for a while, and just yesterday I had one of our favorite readers email me specifically asking about the name Benedict Cumberbatch.

      As for our opinion, we think it’s an amazing name! We’ve privately postulated that “b” seems to be the letter that corresponds with the funniest names, and Benedict Cumberbatch has several b’s. I’m honestly surprised this idea hasn’t made it on to the Funny Names Theory page yet. It probably will soon.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Dave says:

      Just wanted to let you know that Arto posted about Benedict Cumberbatch this morning, and I just stumbled upon this comment while looking for someone else who also requested we cover that name. You should definitely check out the post to see what the Washington Post called him – I think it’s even funnier than “Benedict Cumberbatch” if that’s even possible.

  7. paralaxvu says:

    I came here to read your blog because you visited mine and I wanted to thank you and to return the favor. But since I’m here, I have a name for you: However, I don’t know if it’s legal to just post someone’s name if they don’t already have some kind of known presence in the world larger than Orange County, California? It’s a great name, though, so let me know some way I can share it with at least you;-)

    • Dave says:

      Hmm… I think it’s probably fine, but we have a policy of only posting about notable people – we try to keep it all positive and not make fun of anyone (except for their name, but even that’s out of love).

      If you want to, feel free to send me an email – you can find my email address on my Gravatar profile, or you can reply to this comment and I’ll tell you my address. I love hearing about new, exceptional names!

      • paralaxvu says:

        Thanks for offering your email address. I went to your gravatar profile but everything I clicked on just brought me back to the blog itself. I found a sort-of well-known name, not the original one I queried you about and I’d like to send you the web address siting him. Thanks…you’re one of the posts I read regularly now.

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  10. marksackler says:

    Thanks for liking my recent post. I love this. Back in junior high school a buddy of mine and I went through and entire all-time baseball register and voted on our fifty wackiest names of all time. Some of our favorites included Orval Overall and Cornelius McGillicuddy (Connie Mack’s real name). But nothing beat Clyde Klutz. Can you imagine a professional athlete named Klutz!? I have an even better one from my professional life, but it’s more than a bit obscene so I won’t post it without your permission. It’s a Korean name that does not translate well into English! If you are interested, email me through my blog and I’ll send it to you. 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Great minds think alike! As I detailed in my Ossee Schreckengost post (the second one I ever wrote, and I think the fourth post overall on this blog), this blog wouldn’t exist if we didn’t love odd baseball names too – that was how we started making a Funny Names List in the first place.

      I’d love to hear the name! Feel free to email me! carlsondm at gmail

      • marksackler says:

        Did you ever hear this one? It also made our list and is probably by far the longest name in the all-time baseball register (Jarrod Saltalemacchia eat your heart out!)

        Christian Frederick Albert John Henry David “Bruno” Betzel

        There has to be a great story behind that one. Maybe he was an only child of parents who wanted a big family?

        • Dave says:

          Haha, I like it. I remember William Vanlandingham had the longest last name in the sport for a while. We also have profiled Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma “Bus, Cal or Buster” McLish. But I think Bruno beats him by a few letters.

      • marksackler says:

        Ossee was definitely high on our list! I’m contemplating devoting a future post on my blog to the subject of baseball names. I’ll definitely make reference to this blog if I do.

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  14. Md. Alsanda says:

    Hi, Thanks for stopping by .

  15. thalia3 says:

    Graceful Witt. Augustine Igwe. Jacquese Miloser.
    Just some of the names of people I work with whose names I would like to assume. I think that if I had a better name, I might already be famous. I am hampered by my respectable name and modest, plebian surname. Fama glorioque, you are only a name away… 🙂

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  17. Stagger X says:

    Absolutely amazing

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  19. Love your humor! I think Chad “Ocho Cinco” was proof of the rule that changing your name leads to unfortunate consequences. He changed it back – I think it’s now Chad Uno Dos.

  20. deadmousediaries says:

    Hi, Dave! Thanks for checking in on my “Hotel” blog! You have some really funny stuff here- thanks for the laughs! I love it when someone like you chooses to pursue the offbeat and change it up. I lived through the 60s and remember a TV commercial, possibly from the Social Security Administration (Imagine!) that used an unusual name as an example in their ad; any chance you’ve heard of it? The last name was something close to sounding like Skiborvniak (sp?). In my head, the first name is coming through something like Ingabor. That was pretty edgy stuff for American TV in the 60s even if it simply sounds like diversity now. (Why do I even keep that in my head when I really need the storage space for more important stuff???) Continue to share — your blog is lotsa fun! MK

    • Dave says:

      I wasn’t able to find that name or that ad anywhere… trust me, I did search back when I saw this message initially. If you can hunt that one down, I’d be very much obliged!

  21. authorashley says:

    Hey, thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂 I’ll definitely be back to yours, as this post and several others had me cracking up!

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  23. amb says:

    The “Corneli Are Never Superfluous” Truism is by far the most awesome thing I have ever inspired. You know I heart you, right?

  24. dreamthiefcomic says:

    definitely following. As a boring name person, I am fascinated by the funny name rules.
    Also just wanted to thank you for liking one of my comics at Accidental Pickup Lines. I appreciate it!

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  30. In honor of my roommate’s old baseball trading cards, there is actually a pro baseball player back in like the 1950’s(?) named… Rusty Kuntz. It is our favorite card he has. I know it is not as classy as some of your English fellows above, but he was famous and real and has a real funny name! Great blog!

    • Dave says:

      Oh yes, we’ve definitely run across that guy already. It seems a bit daunting to write a post about a Rusty Kuntz that doesn’t get vulgar and sexual, but we’ll do our best, and rest assured that Rusty will find his name on the blog one day… perhaps sooner rather than later!

      • Cool! I was doing some research last year for a series of paintings i was doing and i came across this message board with a long conversation going on about funniest names people had ever heard. The ones i liked were Snowkeana White and Snow White Lopez as well of of course the #1 all time winner… Mr… Taco Proper!! I had a lot of laughs that night. Research can be fun sometimes if you get lucky.

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  33. wdydfae says:

    Hi Dave, Thanks for liking my humble new blog. I love this place and put it on my blogroll. I dropped this idea to Liz on the Dragonwagon comment thread but I should have dropped it here.

    One of you MUST do Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (full name Caroline Charonplop Kyari Pamyu Pamyu). Yes, it sounds as funny in Japanese as it does in English. She has become quite a notable figure at the tender age of twenty (about). With all due respect to the blog’s brilliance, you have yet to press Funnynameology into the important but neglected realm of Lewis Carrollean J-pop bubble gum Harajuku-inspired arrested childhood plastic dresses feather eyelashes and oversized lolipops. As an added bonus, her songs and product names are as funny sounding as her own.

    It’s for science!

  34. Lucky Wreck says:

    Oh my gosh. I completely love this…but can’t think of a name to describe my lovey feelings for this blog!

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  37. blueluck says:

    =D haha, very funny names…one time there was a guy I knew named Johnny Pizza! BTW, Great Blog!

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  39. scopping says:

    This blog is fantastic. I once had a friend who worked for a phone company and we’d write limericks about the best names she’d find. We got the most mileage out of Lester Worcester. Who gives their progeny a rhyming name?

  40. sandrabranum says:

    I still kinda like Archie Leach. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I must say find yours “v-e-r-y interesting” 😉

  41. darcie says:

    Ummm… this is amazing.

  42. Taygibay says:

    May I offer a suggestion for a listing post? How about funny names that just missed the mark of greatness?
    Think for instance about Goodluck Jonathan that today is being replaced as leader of Nigeria. As a politician or country leader is name is only “average funny”.
    Had he been a famous gambler or card shark however … 😎
    I think a whole category could be based on this to enrich your lovely collection.

    And best of luck to Dave with the girls, Tay.

  43. wdydfae says:

    I forgot what an awesome masterpiece this post is! Fun re-reading.

    • Dave says:

      So glad you enjoy it! I haven’t looked at it in a while either… perhaps I’m due for a re-read myself!

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