What’s in a Name?

I get a kick out of people who share the same name. Whether it be football players with the same name as musical legends or physicists and biologists causing confusion because of their names, I can’t get enough. Thanks to Doc Hawks I can add another name to my list. It’s population geneticist David Begun and anthropologist David Begun. This caused a bit of confusion on my part, as I was wondering why David Begun (the Drosophila population geneticists) had written a review of a book on primate evolution. Turns out it was the other David Begun (the anthropologist), with whom I was previously not familiar.

Is there a name for such a phenomenon? Synonom perhaps?


  1. #1 J-Dog
    August 18, 2006

    My kid’s baseball team played an opponent with a Ted Williams on it.The kid was a pretty good player, but the parents should have been shot, as the kid batted right handed! WTF??
    BTW: I submit “Synchronom”, or “Serendipinom” for terminology.

  2. #2 John McKay
    August 18, 2006

    Having a common white-bread name that I share with hundreds of others, I call it annoying.

  3. #3 Ahcuah
    August 18, 2006

    I have a fairly unique last name, from Pomerania.

    Imagine my surprise to discover that there is another person with my exact same full name (even down to the least-popular spelling of my middle name).

    I was even more surprised when I found out that recently my “namesake” was a member of a ska band and had been arrested for drug dealing and is now serving time in a federal penetintary in Florida.

  4. #4 Typhis
    August 18, 2006

    The word you are looking for is “homonymy”. Widely used by archaic taxonomists such as myself where a name proposed for an organism in the Linnaean system is used more than once.

  5. #5 cak
    August 18, 2006

    We named our son Douglas. Last name Adams. Not intentionally.
    When he went to sleep away math camp in middle school he found that most kids wore bathrobes all day on Thursdays. It was at this camp he found he could make money by selling his name tag…


  6. #6 chris
    August 18, 2006

    There’s always Dr MJ Daly, statistical geneticist, and Dr MJ Daly, expert on D. radiodurans… Makes PubMed searches rather perplexing

  7. #7 Bill Hooker
    August 19, 2006

    My Hons supervisor was David Hume. This one, not this one.

    (In Australia, the typical path to a graduate degree is undergrad (three years) followed by “Honours”, a year-long supervised research project, usually with some lit work as well — a “mini-PhD” if you like — followed by the grad degree itself.)

  8. #8 The Ridger
    August 19, 2006

    Ah, yes. I remember well the day I got a memo from HR explaining how they had found an error in my locator data and had corrected it.


    What they had done was conflate me the other woman who worked there who had the same given name, middle initial, and surname as I. Suddenly I had my SSN, her address, and her husband. (Imagine his surprise!) Fortunately payroll wasn’t in on this action…

  9. #9 Irrelephant
    August 19, 2006

    It’s even more annoying when both are, for instance, mathematicians. Recently I wanted to disentagle the John Conways, and luckily wikipedia helped me out.

  10. #10 Alan Kellogg
    August 20, 2006

    It’s thanks to this sort of mix up that Engelbert Humperdinck gets credited for writing an operetta before he was even born. 🙂

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