TV Tropes Monday: Meaningful Name

Tweet of the Day: Physical Attributes Thesaurus: Eyes


This trope is all about names.

It is so common especially, but certainly not limited to speculative fiction, that not finding it is nearly impossible.  A meaningful name can come from the characters parents, through a puberty ritual, as an epithet that reflects the characters deeds (be the great or otherwise) or simply one of many nicknames a character picks along the way.  Many a meaningful name is as blunt as smashing someone face with a two-by-four, others are a bit more subtle, borrowed from obscure mythological sources or foreign languages. Even names that are common today may have ancient roots which may or not be known to the audience or in the universe the characters lives in.

Is John named after a Pope, a Saint, a King or the mother’s favorite uncle?

Clever writers twist this trope into any shape they want, making names that are heroic, demonic, funny or (deliberately) forgettable.

The one glaring hazard that comes from this, besides getting the reference wrong, is that the meaning might be injected by the audience where none was intended.



3 comments on “TV Tropes Monday: Meaningful Name

  1. Aye, there’s the rub. It’s a hazard when naming your child, for sure: I was a nervous wreck naming mine!


  2. Very true. A name is the first thing a reader wants to know about a character, and that name could say a lot about that character. I have a hard time with names and often just pick names that I like. That has lead to unfortunate consequences, like you said, folks thought I intended something when it was just random.


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