January 10, 2013

An Incomplete List of Congressional Metonyms

As profound students of Restoration comedy one and all, you surely know what a metonym is—a given name for a fictional character that telegraphs his or her personality or role in the story. This may be direct, or simply through euphony. Examples: Charles Surface, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mr. Gradgrind, Mistress Quickly, Severus Snape.

Sometimes real people have metonymic names. This can come in handy sometimes.

For example, certain members of US Congress have names that an editor might reject as too metonymic if we tried to use them in fiction. I hereby nominate my top ten.

  1. Henry Waxman

  2. Louise Slaughter

  3. Bob Goodlatte

  4. Bobby Rush

  5. Mac Thornberry

  6. Sam Graves

  7. Emanuel Cleaver

  8. Marcia Fudge

  9. Leonard Lance

  10. Raul Labrador

Though perhaps not strictly a metonym, an honorable mention must surely go to Dutch Ruppersberger.

How apt these names I leave as a matter for other scholars. Just how creamy and delicious is the legislation of Marcia Fudge?