Have you ever noticed how some people’s names fit perfectly with some aspect of their profession, hobby or personal characteristics? There is actually a name for this. It’s called an “aptronym”. It was coined by modifying the word “patronym” (a name derived from the name of a father or ancestor), replacing the “pat” with “apt”. So an aptonym is a name derived from a particularly appropriate or suitable characteristic. The mysterious thing about aptonyms, though, is that the name is often given even before the characteristic it denotes is even known: as if it somehow dictates future. It can happen to places as well as individuals. Mesa was named for its unique geography, with its raised flat-top areas in the landscape. To the Spanish, the geographic features looked like tables, so “Mesa” was the name they gave it. But now that Mesa has developed into one of the area’s breadbaskets for fresh seasonal produce, the “table” designation is pretty apt; the “Mesa” part of the Mesa food scene provides an apt analogy of how local restaurants are taking advantage of their local produce by promoting their farm to “mesa” (table) bonafides.
“The Mesa food scene has become the tabletop of the area …”
To make the story even more interesting, 2000 years ago one of the original groups to inhabit the area, the Hohokam Indians, constructed a canal system as a means to survive in the parched landscape. The system eventually extended to over 125 miles.