Thursday, May 27, 2021

The names we give ourselves

 Lately I've been working under the guise of a "Sherlockian chronologist" in playing with the dates of the sixty Sherlock Holmes stories, and rather enjoying that term. We fans of Sherlock Holmes have called ourselves a lot of things over the years, sometime getting a little contentious or uppity along the way, but most of our labels, be they "Sherlockian," "Holmesian," "Watsonian," "afficionado," "enthusiast," or simply "fan," are self-assigned. But did you ever stop and go, "Why the 'ian' thing?"

One site says "From the Latin -ianus, in which the -i- originally was from the stem of the word being attached be later came to be felt as connective." And yes, we do occasionally make an ass out of ourselves for love of Sherlock, but "Sherlock-anus" seems a little extreme, doesn't it?

So why not something a little nicer?

I mean, I'm loving "Sherlockian chronologist," so why not "Sherlockologist?" Even though we do it for entertainment, the study of Sherlock Holmes is the thing for so many of us, designating Sherlockology as a branch of knowledge and calling its practitioners "Sherlockologists" makes perfect sense. (Okay, you UK folk can go with "Holmesologists," is you want, but you might have people thinking you're into homeopathy or something.)

And why couldn't one take it a step further and just be a "Sherlockist" practicing "Sherlockism?" Sounds a bit religious, and you might have to do some cosplay, but I'd like to meet a Sherlockist . . . oh, wait, would they be fun? Or very strict and too serious about their Sherlockism and its tenets. ("Come on, take the first cab! We're in a hurry!")

I liked that "Mare of Easttown" fans were going with "Mare bears," but rhyming Sherlock gets weird fast. "Sherlock jocks," "Sherlock warlocks," "Sherlockacrocs," "Sherberts," "Holmes loams," "Holmes gnomes." That last one is the best of that bunch in my mind, but the movie Sherlock Gnomes might make it way too confusing.

 We might be moving to more specific nicknames anyway, like those regulars of 221B Con, the "Bees." And the Doyleans might be about to toss some fresh new slang in at some point. ("Doylies" may not be it, though.) 

The "ian" thing puts a Sherlockian in a class with libriarians and vegetarians, rather that being a "Sherlocker" or "Sherlockor," which would put us with lawyers and authors. And as much as certain clubs had to split off female auxiliaries due to their membership practices in ancient times, we never got "Sherlockesses." (Though "Irregulars" and "Adventuresses" did give America both of those suffixes.)

Are there any other suffixes or terms for the hobbyists of Holmes that we have missed out on?

A moss rose by any other name would be just as much an embellishment of life, to borrow from Shakespeare and Sherlock.


  1. Hate to be lumped in with a vegetarian! Would rather be a Sherlock-anus-ian.

  2. "I am the Sherlockinator. Prepare to be Sherlocked."