I have a bit of an obsession with names. I admitted this on a recent post about naming characters and, well, absolutely NOTHING has changed since then. So I was pretty excited when I came across today’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl). I just knew I had to give it a shot…and there aren’t any rules about writing two posts about names in as many months, are there?
As it turned out, coming up with ten best character names was harder than I thought. But after a little self-reflection, I realised that all the names I came up with slotted into one of two categories (below). I’ve chosen five from each category to share with you today, and my reasons for selecting them. Hope you enjoy!
Etymology, names with hidden meanings and/or significance, translations into other languages etc.
General “feel” of the name, aural associations and comparative sounds, alliteration etc.
*Icons from www.flaticon.com
I’ll start with the famous one right off the bat. By now, 99.99% of the world probably knows that the phrase vol de mort translates as “flight of death” or “death flight”. Whether J.K. Rowling did this intentionally is still up for debate (apparently), but if she didn’t it’s one HELL of a coincidence! It has the perfect meaning, sound and feeling for the Dark Lord. Plus the whole TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE = I AM LORD VOLDEMORT anagram? Genius.
This name has such a lovely ring to it. Melodious. I first came across it long before I started the Mistborn series, and instantly knew it was the name of a nobleman. It just had to be. But not just any nobleman, either—an elegant one, a sophistocated one, a…okay, I think you get the picture. If you’ve read any of these books, you’d know that my initial assessment of Elend Venture, made from nothing more than the sound of his name, isn’t far off the mark!
After much deliberation, I’ve decided it’s not cheating to choose two names from the one series (Harry Potter has a lot of clever names, okay?). The name Severus is an old one, derived from the Latin term for “stern”, and apparently snape is also a verb that means “to be hard upon, rebuke, revile, snub”. So yeah, Severus Snape is a pretty sweet name for our favourite Hogwarts professor. What, what? He’s not your favourite? Shame on you!
What’s your first impression when you hear the name Willy Wonka? Be honest. Silly?Odd? Eccentric? Strange? Playful? A little crazy? If one of those, or something similar, wasn’t on your list, well……your brain must work on a vastly different wavelength to mine. Willy Wonka is a classically Roald Dahl name (duh), but its simplicity and sound also perfectly reflect the awesomeness of the character himself!
Okay, I admit this name made my list because I only recently finished the epic A Land Fit For Heroes trilogy and am suffering terrible withdrawal symptoms. But I did a little digging and was absolutely gobsmacked when I uncovered its hidden significance. Ringil is the courageous and (reluctantly) heroic MC of this series. Ringil was also the name of the sword (possibly meaning “cold”) wielded by the High King of the Ñoldor when he fought Morgoth (a.k.a Sauron’s boss) in Tolkein’s The Silmarillion. I was just blown away…though it’s hard to explain exactly why if you haven’t read these books!
I am a sucker for names starting with the letter A (why? no idea). I am a sucker for names that include “ash” in any way. And I am a sucker for names with alliteration. Therefore, it’s really no surprise that Aedion Ashryver made this list. The name sounds awesome—strong, somewhat fey, and more than a little unique. Just like the character himself! Shocking coincidence, no?
Ever since I was little and exploring Star Wars universe for the first time, Darth Vader sounded like an evil character to me. You know, like an INvader, or something. But did you know that vader is the Dutch term for “father”? I’M NOT JOKING IT SAYS SO ON GOOGLE TRANSLATE!! And George Lucas claims the Sith Lords are all dubbed Darth as a variant of “dark”. So Darth Vader’s name literally means “Dark Father”. Spooky right? The twist must be spoiled if you’re Dutch though…
Now this is one name where I’m not sure if it’s memorable because it’s famous or it’s famous because it’s memorable. Or maybe it’s just the character himself who’s memorable. Atticus doesn’t have any particularly significant meaning, nor does Finch. Except it’s a type of bird and the word “bird” is in the title. The name has a lovely ring to it, though, and it’s a study in contrasts. Bold but gentle. Strong but humble. Sound like someone you know?
And now we get to the proud, self-righteous villain of the original Mortal Instruments trilogy. Third-century saint aside, the name Valentine comes from the Latin valens, which means “strong, vigorous”. And Morgenstern means Morning Star, and we all know where that comes from. How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning! and all that. Wouldn’t be the first time Valentine Morgenstern was compared to Lucifer. He is all that and more (and less…)!
Lucky last! And what a worthy last it is (in my opinion, anyway). Now, Melissa Marr admits she chose her characters’ names for their etymology, but the name Irial has, in her words, obscure/unclear/vague meanings. Awfully apt for our Dark King-turned-something-more. But the name itself is beautiful and alluring and one-of-a-kind. And its shortened version, Iri, sounds like eerie and that’s just too perfect!!!
Now, I get to the end of this list and read over my ten names again…and realise that all of them are male names. Cue awkward silence. I should be ashamed of myself, modern-age woman that I am. Well, I’m not. It’s not my fault that authors seem to come up with way better male names than female name. But now I have the urge to go back and check names I’ve chosen for my own female characters…
What are your favourite character names and why? Would any of the above make your Top Ten?