Created By: MrInitialMan on July 23, 2011 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on August 5, 2011

Yin Yang Epithets

The Praised to his face, The Dissed behind his back

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Ah, King Bob the Peaceful. Under him, our nation knew a long period of peace and prosperity, and our neighbors rested in security, knowing they would not be subjected to war. To commemorate him on his birthday, we dress ourselves in yellow and feast on chicken liver.


Straightforward description: When a ruler is given a flattering epithet to his face, but called quite something else (usually something snide) behind his back. Usually by two different sets of people.

Examples

Literature
  • The Laconic description comes from Rabadash The Peacemaker (or Rabadash The Ridiculous) from The Horse And His Boy.
  • Two examples from A Song Of Ice And Fire (although in the first case, the flattering name is what the group calls itself):
    • The Brave Companions are a group of psychopathic mercenaries that are known (out of ear-shot) as The Bloody Mummers.
    • Jaime Lannister is called "The Lion of Lannister" to his face but behind his back, everyone calls him "The Kingslayer" (basically, even though the monarch he assassinated was The Caligula, since Jaime was his bodyguard, he's seen as a vile oathbreaker for killing him). Not sure if this one is specific to the tv adaptation.

Real Life
  • Ferdinand The Good (AKA Goodinand The Finished)
  • Good Queen/Bloody Bess (Elizabeth I)
  • William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England, was also known as William the Bastard due to his illegitimate birth.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • July 24, 2011
    Ryusui
    It's a bad sign when your Trope Namer is your only example. (Especially considering it's the nondescriptive variety.)
  • July 24, 2011
    Deboss
    What?
  • July 24, 2011
    Angewomon
    Sorry, I thought this was a trope about a ruler who is a peacemaker. *deletes example I gave* You might want to change it to something that isn't so misleading. False Accolade, maybe? *shrugs*
  • July 27, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Thanks for the suggestion, I'll use that title instead.
  • July 29, 2011
    Jordan
    Two examples from A Song Of Ice And Fire (although in the first case, the flattering name is what the group calls itself):

    • The Brave Companions are a group of psychopathic mercenaries that are known (out of ear-shot) as The Bloody Mummers.

    • Jaime Lannister is called "The Lion of Lannister" to his face but behind his back, everyone calls him "The Kingslayer" (basically, even though the monarch he assassinated was The Caligula, since Jaime was his bodyguard, he's seen as a vile oathbreaker for killing him). Not sure if this one is specific to the tv adaptation.
  • July 31, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England, was also known as William the Bastard due to his illegitimate birth.
  • August 1, 2011
    NewGamePlus
    It seems like this is the case with Batman, at least concerning the Justice League. Sure, when he's around he's brilliant, resourceful and damn useful in a fight but many also call him paranoid, anti-social and all around dick-ish.
  • August 1, 2011
    Ryusui
    Yin Yang Epithets, perhaps?

    Whatever we go for, it needs to have "epithet" in the title. "Epithet" has two meanings: a word firmly associated with a person (e.g. "the Peacemaker"), or an insult in the same vein (e.g. "the Ridiculous"). That is, this trope is about people who have both kinds of epithets: the positive/neutral kind, and the negative kind.
  • August 2, 2011
    Arivne
    If I saw the title Yin Yang Epithets I would have no idea that it meant someone who was called something flattering to their face but called an insulting term behind their back.

    Unfortunately, I'm coming up dry on alternative titles so I have nothing better to offer. :(
  • August 2, 2011
    Ryusui
    It's not the best title, I'll admit. But "epithet" sums up the premise so perfectly with its double meaning, it's hard to resist putting it in there.
  • August 2, 2011
    Aielyn
    I think the main problem with Yin Yang Epithets is that it sounds like it's a Japanese or Chinese trope, and you go in expecting it to be about epithets found in Taoism.

    Epithet is a good word, though. Would work well if brought together with a word that is a synonym, but generally seen as positive, like Sobriquet (which is an affectionate or humorous nickname).

    How about, say, Sobriquet And Epithet. It has a bit of a rhyme to make it a bit more colourful, and is somewhat appropriately regal-sounding, since the trope is usually applied to royalty.
  • August 2, 2011
    quedonX
    How about just Opposing Epithets? A little clearer (for those that like that sort of thing) and some Added Alliterative Appeal of the not-so-overt kind.

    Edit: I would like to note that I actually like Sobriquet And Epithet, and I am merely giving another suggestion in the spirit of having options.
  • August 4, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    I think Opposing Epithets works. Sobriquet, however, seems to mean a humourous nickname.
  • August 4, 2011
    Aielyn
    According to what? Wiktionary defines it to be a "familiar name" for a person (like "The Bard" for William Shakespeare). Wikipedia gives many additional examples, with particularly useful examples being Mahatma Gandhi for Mohandas Gandhi, The Big Apple for New York City, and Bloody Mary for Queen Mary I of England. None of those are "humorous".

    The problem with Opposing Epithets is that it's easily confused with someone who is opposed to epithets. That is, the double entendre on Opposing could create confusion. Not to mention that it could be read as referring to two people "fighting" each other with epithets, or something.
  • August 5, 2011
    DorianMode
    Erfworld has one that's both at the same time: our hero tells the Evil(?) Overlord he works for that the greatest term of respect he knows is "Tool". Said boss is delighted to be known as such.
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