5 Tricks to Create Distinctive Fantasy Names


Names could be arduous to create should you don’t have a way—and discovering a way that matches your world isn’t straightforward. So let’s take a look at 5 methods you’ll be able to enhance your scifi or fantasy names to make your world extra stable and actual!

1. Think about your geography

When a spot doesn’t have a longtime identify (or it does however we don’t understand it), we regularly use geographical options as a reference. For instance, “I went to that city by the river” or “she lives in the home on the hill”. Over time, these phrases change into names. For instance, the primary one could be shortened to “river city”, which may finally change into Riverton. So, take a look at the settlement’s environment and see if there are any essential geographical options. A great way to make geography-based names constant is to take a look at different cities which can be additionally subsequent to the identical sort of terrain and mirror their identical naming construction.

The actual world is filled with names primarily based on geography—the Netherlands is a really clear instance! However let’s dig just a little bit deeper: Bournemouth is an English metropolis that’s subsequent to the river Bourne (which additionally means “river” in Center English! Discuss being authentic…). One other instance is Montserrat, a British Abroad Territory within the Caribbean named after the mountain in Spain of the identical identify (in Catalan, “Montserrat” means “serrated mountain”). In fact, there are additionally historic causes for this identify, however it’s a very good instance of how geographical names are usually not all the time subsequent to the characteristic they consult with! We’re fairly chaotic with our names, so don’t be afraid of transferring issues round and including some randomness to your world’s fantasy names.

Montserrat, a mountain in Spain

That is Montserrat! A reasonably descriptive identify, as you’ll be able to see.

2. Take into consideration politics…

Vital individuals (like leaders and politicians) love ensuring everybody is aware of how essential they’re. And is there a greater method to try this than naming a city after them? Washington D.C. (or Washington state) are apparent examples, however there are city names with sneakier references to individuals! For instance, Buckingham, in England, means “Residence of Bucca’s individuals”, in reference to an Anglo Saxon chief. However it may be much more hidden than that! New Jersey isn’t named after an individual, however after the Isle of Jersey. It seems that one of many authentic proprietors of New Jersey had been governor of the Isle of Jersey, so he determined to make use of the identical identify! In any case, house is the place your coronary heart is, proper?

Politics play a vital position in our on a regular basis life, so it is sensible that some locations shall be named for political causes. For instance, Saint Petersburg was referred to as Leningrad for over 70 years after Lenin, a Soviet chief, handed away. The truth is, the unique and present identify of the town was chosen by Peter the Nice, the Tsar at the moment (coincidence? I believe not!). Political names can even evolve over time—for instance, Essex, in England, comes from East Seaxe, which implies East Saxons. It’s only a description of the individuals who lived there, however the identify caught!

…and don’t overlook about historical past!

Take into consideration your world’s historical past too: what essential cultures have made contact? This could possibly be by an invasion, but in addition by overseas merchants interacting with the locals or an explorer discovering a brand new land. That is prone to produce names which can be a mixture of phrases of each languages—for instance, an Elvish nation with some metropolis names that use orcish suffixes! In Center Earth, many human settlements (like Minas Tirith, Gondor’s capital) have names in an Elvish language. This occurs in the true world too, in fact. The chester half in Manchester (and different cities) comes from the Outdated English ceaster, which meant “Roman city”.

3. Keep in mind to be lazy along with your fantasy names

Let’s be actual, we’re lazy. Okay, possibly not you specifically, however laziness performs a giant position in language evolution! Why say one thing in two phrases when you can simply use one? Why spell colour when you’ll be able to simply use colour? The identical precept applies to names: the older the city is, the extra its identify could have developed. Want examples? Nicely, we already talked about Essex, which is a contraction of East Seaxe. However there’s additionally Leicestershire, which is pronounced “less-tu-shur”. And let’s not overlook about the US (or America)—as a result of who has time to say The US of America?

In fact, that doesn’t imply lengthy names can’t exist! There are some stupidly lengthy names which have grown extra advanced for quite a lot of causes (taking a look at you, Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch—no, I didn’t make that up). Making a reputation longer than it ought to could be an effective way to speak in regards to the place’s historical past or political state of affairs.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch_station_sign by Chris McKenna on Wikimedia Commons

See? I advised you I’m not making it up! (Picture by Chris McKenna on Wikimedia Commons)

4. Taboos and vulgar language

Vulgar language and phrases which can be thought of taboo are very frequent in well-liked tradition—and this contains names! Shitterton is an actual city in England in spite of everything. However vulgar names can typically seem accidentally. For instance, Nottingham (England) was once often called Snottingham, after Snot the Sensible, the Saxon chieftain who dominated that space. Now, snot may not be as vulgar as shit, however it’s most likely not the primary phrase you’d consider using when creating a reputation. This brings us to evolution!

We already talked about evolution within the earlier part, however you should utilize it right here too! Names that sound too vulgar would possibly evolve over time to make them extra nice to the ear. Nottingham is an instance of that, however Satterford (previously Shitterford) is a good clearer one. Now, evolution often occurs naturally in the true world, however since you management your world, you should utilize this to cover some fairly humorous names behind evolution!

Want to arrange your language? Learn to arrange your languages on World Anvil with this weblog submit!

5. Embrace the chaos in your fantasy names!

Except your world is inhabited by AIs, there shall be chaos and randomness. Names that don’t appear to suit, others that sound humorous, and even a number of locations with the identical identify. The actual world is filled with this: we’ve seen some bizarre names within the weblog submit, however there are such a lot of extra. Now, you is likely to be pondering, “isn’t consistency so essential to make the world really feel actual?” Nicely, sure, however truly no! If all the things follows the identical guidelines with out deviations, the world will really feel synthetic. Attempt to strike a stability the place most names observe these guidelines, however every now and then there’s one which fully ignores them and shamelessly goes in the other way.

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