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Harry S. Truman, Jesus H. Christ, Roy G. Biv

Are there any others?


  1. jrkrideau says:

    IIRC, using a middle initial could bring unwelcome visits from immigration in Canada. The, rather lame, explanation was that John Q. Smith was a more an American form. Possibly checking up on draft-dodgers in the old days?

  2. Robert Grant says:

    On the Stan team page, I have become Robert L Grant, which, although it is in fact my name and helps in publications to avoid confusion with the drum n bass DJ or the science fiction writer, does sound excitingly exotic. I might keep it.

    Don’t forget Jack D Ripper in Doctor Strangelove.

  3. Phil says:

    jrkrideau’s comment reminds me of John Q Public.

    The Wikipedia page on John Q Public led me to “J. Random Hacker,” supposedly a common term for any ol’ programmer in a lot of programming texts.

    There are lots of people for whom the middle initial is pretty much always used (Samuel L Jackson, Arthur C Clarke, etc.) so if we list all of the Harry S Trumans of the world we’ll be here for a long time. But fictional ones — Jesus H Christ, Roy G Biv, John Q Public — that’s a shorter list. Do we want just the ones that are Name-Initial-Name, or do you want Initial-Initial-Name too, like “I.B. Tripping” or “I. P. Freely”?

  4. If we’re just discussing initials, and not placements, then L. Ron Hubbard comes to mind as well.

    However, one initial is so passé. Besides John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who else is consistently referred to by TWO initials?

  5. To be precise, it’s THREE, as he is always called J.R.R.

  6. BobW says:

    H is for Harold.
    Our father who art in heaven, Harold be thy name.

  7. Noah Motion says:

    My three children, whose middle names are, in their entirety, B, T, and A.

  8. Roy says:

    the “G” stands for “Green”!

  9. Steve Reilly says:

    Benoit B. Mandelbrot is the opposite case (The B stands for “Benoit B. Mandelbrot”)

  10. Peter Chapman says:

    John F. Kennedy,
    Michael J. Fox,
    Franklin D. Roosevelt,
    Philip K. Dick,
    Cecil B. DeMille,
    George W. Bush,
    George C. Scott,
    William F. Buckley,
    John D. Rockefeller,
    Johnny B. Goode,
    James Q. Wilson

    • ess.err says:

      Some of us, seeing a post that seems to be asking a stupidly obvious question, suspect we must be missing something and read the comments to find out what that is. Others just provide the stupid answers.

  11. Peter Chapman says:

    David O Selznick
    Benoit B. Mandelbrot
    George S Patton
    George C Scott
    Booker T. Jones
    Booker T Washington
    Iain M. Banks

  12. Njnnja says:

    One could also argue for James T Kirk. He’s fictional, like Roy G Biv, and a good argument can be made that “T” is made up. The commonly known “Tiberius” was never mentioned in the original series, and at one point, he is referred to as “James *R* Kirk”. See

  13. Dzhaughn says:

    Jose Ortega Y Gasset.

    But what is it you are looking for?

    (1,2,3. Are there any others? Yes, 4 and 5. But that is all.)

  14. Gene Quinn says:

    George E. P. Box?

  15. Greg Francis says:

    At the risk of steering the conversation toward bashing of social psychology, a study claims that use of middle initials makes you appear smarter. A summary (with a link to the original journal article) is at

    I don’t believe the effect reported in the article (the statistics seem too good to be true), but the topic seems relevant to the current discussion.

  16. Martha says:

    1) The late mathematician R. H. Bing — the R and H didn’t stand for anything. But I believe hearing that his father was Rupert Henry. There’s also a story that on some form his names were listed as R.(only) H.(only) Bing, and it got transcribed as Ronly Honly Bing.

    2). My brother-in-law has only the initial D. rather than a middle name. As I recall, once when my sister was admitted to a hospital, the intake person insisted that there be a middle name, not just an initial, for her husband, so to avoid hassle, she gave the first name starting with D that she thought of.

    3) I often used my middle initial — because my last name is Smith, so using the middle initial can avoid some (but not all) instances of confusion with other Martha Smith’s.

  17. jrkrideau says:

    Then there is the opposite. William Lyon Mackenzie King is always referred to with all his names, which come to think of it is the opposite of Sir John A. whose last name is often omitted.

  18. Michael Lew says:

    Michael J. Lew

  19. Michael Lew says:

    Homer J Simpson

  20. Corey says:

    When my name’s in a list of authors on a paper I include my middle initial; otherwise my citations get mixed up with those of a different C. Yanofsky.

    • Andrew says:

      I know of 2 other Andrew Gelmans. One lives in Chicago, and he came up to me after a talk I gave and said hi. The other lives in New Jersey, down the street from a poli sci prof who told me that she had a neighbor with my name.

  21. David P says:

    All this reminds me of Herb Caen’s quip in the 1970s during Watergate, when there was a spate of names like G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt: “Never trust a man who parts his name on the side.”

  22. EB says:

    Off topic:

    Oh please, oh please, oh please comment on this Scott Adams post:

  23. Howard Edwards says:

    If you are old enough to remember All In The Family (or maybe if you’ve seen re-runs) you might recall that Archie Bunker always used to refer to his favorite US president as Richard E Nixon. I guess you could call it a (deliberate) mistake but it certainly was fictitious!

    Does Donald Trump have a fictitious middle initial by any chance?

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