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Forums » RP Discussion » What Is Your Method For Names?

Simply out of curiosity and to see possible outcomes; what is your way of coming up with good, unique names for characters? Do you look names up, or name them the first thing on your mind? Or are you like me and literally type random keys on the keyboard for 10 seconds until you get a odd name and make small adjustments? --Or something else?

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Usually if I want to name my characters, I try to make them as realistic as possible. I dread using randomly fabricated names as I have a hard time finding an explanation or meaning to them. For example: my upcoming character Mercuzio. At first I wanted to name him 'Mercutio' but I had a hard time finding a reason as to why. I chose Mercuzio as that name has basis in original Italian history, and Mercutio being a name made up by William Shakespeare (from what I gather at least). Well, that's just my way of naming them ^^;
I look for names with certain meanings that relate to my characters personality or appearance. Like for my character Lumina, who is obsessed with stars, her name means 'Brilliant Light'. She is also an idol which can be seen as 'bright' or 'shining' for example. I don't try too hard to be unique. As long as it fits the character well I don't need a never before used made-up name.
Rhythm Topic Starter

My characters names really never had much meaning to them except for the ones I wandered to research for. Besides a few--XD I just type randomly until I get something cool such as in the cases of current and past character parts of names: Norvien, Vynueial, Vantessia, Revian, Ulyian, Leia, Yuiara Meyori, Akardi, Ikiua, Astavas, and so forth. XD All of those were randomly typed with only a few changes such as a letter or two..but they had no true meaning. Just uniqueness I suppose. I never strived for meaning in a name, just a name that seemed original, and suited--leaving a mystery as well as a closed door between name and character.
I understand. And there's nothing wrong with doing it that way either! I suppose for me, I enjoy meaning in a characters name because when I hear it, it feels so right. It suits them to their cores. That I know the name is more than a name but an extension of themselves or their personality. If that makes sense? When I see the name I can envision the character and the traits the name represents in my mind. Being unique is wonderful too though! As long as you like the names, that's all that matters!
Rhythm Topic Starter

:3 Yeah, that makes sense. Hm, such as my character Ningyo. His name his based upon the Waro Ningyo Straw Dolls--and being he's a puppeteer and tends to mess around with those things, he gained the name Ningyo. But some other meanings are hidden deeper in my simpler character names such as Draikens middle and last name sum up a part of his past and even smaller meanings such as Aiden meaning "Little Flame" teaches through the characters personality and such; despite how much your inner demons pester you, never let the flame die out. Or Kurenai's last name Hope secretly concluding no matter the past, never lose hope. XD

Baby naming cites are the best places ever to look for names.
My first character Tolora was named because she is a tiger shape-shifter. Tora is tiger in Japanese, her country of origin. I just added in some letters to make it unique! My next character, Markal, was originally based off my boyfriend and so his name was taken from my boyfriend's last name. Like Tolora's name, I changed it a little bit.

I really like to give my characters one of a kind names you're not likely to find anywhere else. When I do have trouble though, I go here. I can search names by meaning and if I find one I like but don't think is quite perfect, they have this wonderful get kreatif button where they generate several new names alike to the original. For example if I click on the name Luna, but decide I want something just a little different, I can click get kreatif with Luna and it generates names like: Luella, Lunanda, Aina, Leona, Suna, Lurette, etc.

EDIT: Seventh Sanctum is also an awesome website for finding generators for various things from story ideas to various types of names to character personality generators.
Amirrora wrote:
I look for names with certain meanings that relate to my characters personality or appearance. Like for my character Lumina, who is obsessed with stars, her name means 'Brilliant Light'. She is also an idol which can be seen as 'bright' or 'shining' for example. I don't try too hard to be unique. As long as it fits the character well I don't need a never before used made-up name.

^^ I have a character named Lumina too xD Although her name was given to her by her partner and she liked it so much, she uses it as a preferred alias to all of her other names.

I tend to name my characters in ways that reflect their natures. Such as with Lumina, who is the Unicorn Queen and light incarnate, I wanted something that reflected that. Or let's take Amaltheia for an example; she's very soft hearted and gentle, so her name means 'to soothe'.

I generally will take into account their ethnicity or closest-to if they're fantasy, and look on name meaning sites. Still, a lot of searching and care goes into it.

Other times, I get names through typos I or my friends make. Those ones are the best. In fact, the elf species, both of em, on one of my RP groups were named after typos Rigby made.
Tate wrote:
In fact, the elf species, both of em, on one of my RP groups were named after typos Rigby made.


I'll just be over here.
My method typically involves banging my head on the keyboard until something works.

Joking aside, I take various things into account first- background, heritage, etc along with personality and/or other traits. I know it's a bit of a cliche, but in my opinion the most important thing for character creation or world building is for the author to have fun with it! Make sure the name makes sense in the setting of course, but make sure the name you choose within that setting is one you like. Say it aloud a few times, imagine other characters using that name for whatever reason, etc.

Also, and this might be a bit of a contradiction but just hear me out- I find if there's a name I really like but it's really over-used and/or too 'edgy' or whatever, I try to find a name similar to it but that isn't used so much, or toned down a bit. For example, years ago I was trying to come up with bird-themed names for an OC of mine. There was Raven and other variants of the same name like Draven or whatever, but that name has been used quite a lot in the past for other OCs and such. It's a beautiful name, but the over-use of it just didn't sit right with me. So I tried to think of names similar to it, and then it hit me- Crow! Crows, in my mind at least, are similar to ravens thematically and I found it to be a cool name for the OC, especially with the setting I had in mind for her. It wasn't over-used, and it has been used as an actual name before, so I went with it!
Like most others I tend to take in to account ethnicity, lore and background when naming character. And tend to troll for a good while on baby-naming sites for different names and their meanings in order to get a good grasp and feel for what may or may not fit a design I have in mind. Or some times I randomly get inspired by a name in it's self like Fallon or Aednat.
Fantasy names I use this handy generator there is oodles of options with this one. Otherwise I use this one and just refresh till I find one that strikes me.
For me, it almost completely depends on the character. My character Tanya Li was so named because forever ago, "Li" was the first surname that popped into my head, and I've always liked the given name "Tanya". For characters in set settings like Star Trek or Lord of the Rings, I generally start off with a random name.generator, find one I like, then look up the meaning to make sure it's something I want. For others, I may hunt around baby-name sites, then research relevant surnames.

Really does depend on the character, setting, and so on, for me.
i usually just pick a name that sounds cool even if the name doesnt have much meaning or fits the character, i however used a name generator for alucard and fiddled with it until that name popped up and it made me think of dracula so i thought i would build that character around the folk lore of dracula
Names usually conform to ethnicity, nationality and time period/epoch, so I always match them regardless of whether I pick the name first and build around it or slap the name on last. Most of the time I pick random names that fit the character, regardless of what they mean - keep in mind that parents don't always pick a name with meaning and if they do, then the child rarely grows up to fit the meaning they've been burdened with. Having said that, I've had some characters with comically mismatched names, which can make for an interesting backstory.
Don't always hunt after a meaning - my name for example, has none, but it still fits me.

Names for humans: Use a gibberish filler word until I think of something that fits the character, then use Find & Replace

Names for aliens: Use a gibberish filler word
It really depends on what type of character I'm making. Usually, the names have no meaning to them, unless they're a species name. Even then that doesn't always happen.

Sometimes I use generators, especially for OCs from a pre-made universe like Mass effect or TES. If it's for my own Verses, I name it based on the Verse. Usually I'll use gibberish or a generator for those though if I can't think of anything.
Once a year I travel the world for my unique method of inspiration. I collect Alphabet Soup cans from every country I visit and when I arrive home I throw every can into a large pot and mix together the assortment of Cyrillic, English, French, German, and other lingual pasta shapes and eat the entire pot in one sitting. When I am hit with the urge to go to the washroom, I am sure to look at the partly-digested words that have formed and use them as names for my characters.

I'm kidding. I don't really have one method for choosing names. Sometimes the name just fits the character. I have a character named Kole (Not on this site, I believe) and I don't really like his name but it just fits him so perfectly.

How GRRM chooses names

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