Word Ways

Article Title

Fictitious Names


In the early 1950s, when i was an undergraduate at a certain midwestern university, one of the favorite pasttimes of my fellow students and me was the making of names. But we weren't content to stop there; we had to convince each other, and the authorities, that these names identified real persons. As blatant as this sounds, we would go to considerable lengths to enroll our creations in classes, student clubs and athletic teams, and we even offered them as prom queen (and king) candidates and nominated them for honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa. We submitted lists of these made up names to city newspapers and described how their bearers had excelled in athletic or scholarly activities on campus. The media lapped it up, so anxious were they in those days to report anything of interest happening on campus.