Mr. Bumble, the beadle, names the poor, wretched children of the workhouse in alphabetical order. As 'T' is the next available letter in the alphabet when Oliver is born, Bumble comes up with the name Oliver Twist. Dickens, like Bumble, was remarkably skillful at devising unusual, but unforgettable names––Chuzzlewit, Pecksniff, and Pumblechook, to name but three. And Oliver Twist is another memorable addition.
In writing Oliver Twist Dickens immersed himself in the vigorous slang of London's criminal fraternity, the kind of language spoken by Bill Sikes, Nancy, The Artful Dodger and the rest of Fagin's gang. In the argot of the streets "twisted" meant "hanged," as in execution by hanging. If Oliver had been allowed to continue in his life of crime, he might well have ended up on the end of a rope like Fagin, as children could still legally be executed in England at the time. Though in practice, most such death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, or in the case of The Artful Dodger, transportation to a life of hard labor in Australia.