Dennis the Dentist: on the unkillable wrongness of nominative determinism


Originally published at:


I once had a dentist named Dr. Payne. COINCIDENCE?? (Yeah, probably but still amusing)


I had an orthodontist named Dr. Zimmerman. Hilarious, right? Wait…
This is a very deep, interesting post. Thanks. I realize more and more that we all live not only in the phenomenal world of our senses and physicality, but in a mythosphere, a land of stories. As we try to live together cooperatively (to the extent we do at all) it is more and more important to understand what makes those stories and how they influence our behavior in the actual world.



If there is an effect, it’s likely to be small, nay, tiny. There are an awful lot of dentists not called Dennis, and more to the point, the overwhelming majority of Dennises aren’t dentists. I don’t think anyone can possibly take the idea seriously unless they’re very foolish indeed. The only thing the idea is good for is winding up parents in their what-will-we-name-the-baby phase.


My daughter’s orthodontist is named Dr. Toth. So there.


I had never heard about this paper before. I’ve always just thought nominative determinism was something to joke about. My two favourite examples being Anthony Weiner of dickpic infamy and, more obscurely, the swimmer Diana Nyad.

Does anyone have some other famous examples?


There was a dentist at the University of Georgia named Dr. Finger. Should have been a gynecologist.


Proctologist seems more apt a profession for a Dr. Finger.


But, his name is Hermey.


In before “Psychology’s not a real science, so duh!”…

Anyway, my dentist is called Dr. Lücke which translates (from German) as “gap” or “cavity”. Considering the replies so far, it seems the researchers would have been more successful checking for last names…


Yeah, gynecology is going to have to wait until Dr. Speculum comes along.


My thoughts exactly.


This reminds me of my favorite Clash song “My daddy was named Rob”


Yes nominative determinism is wrong, but it is also so striking when it does happen that it’s memorable/sticky.

Dr. Dick Chopp is a well known urologist in Austin. His specialty - vasectomies.



We must thank the Journal of Improbable Research for the helpful pronunciation guide.


My first name is Bruce. Alas, I missed my chance at becoming a martial arts bad-ass. Nor did I become a wealthy, dour recluse with a penchant for vigilantism. Maybe I should just move to Australia, where everyone is named Bruce.


“Beschizza” is close to various german terms that might be returned in English as “beshitted,” suggesting awfulness, drunkenness, being fouled up, etc, or trickery or hoaxing.

It’s also close to certain Italian phrases:

Be schizzo would be a rather crude way of saying “good sketch” (though the colloquial use of “be” for bene is apparently more like “well then” or “so…” in English)

Be schizza, literally “good/well splashed” in similar fashion, though again caveman talk rather than grammatical italian.

So, basically, Beschizza means “piss artist” in several european languages.

Nominative determinism is real kids.


We’ll also accept “Dr. Benjamin Dover.”