Created By: Felius on December 4, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on April 25, 2013

Name Becomes Title

When someone's name/family name becomes a title

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Rolling Updates

Usually a person in a given position will be granted a title pertaining to or derived from that position. Occasionally, one comes along who is so effective or becomes so well-known that his or her name becomes nearly synonymous with the position, effectively replacing any titles that existed before. Any successors will from then on be known by their predecessor's name, which has become the title of that position.

Truth in Television as this has happened a number of times in real life, the most notable, perhaps, being Gaius Julius Caesar whose surname was adopted by the emperors of Rome and has been used in various forms as a title for rulers through the centuries.

Compare Brand Name Takeover, Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep", and His Name Really Is "Barkeep".
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[[folder:Literature]]
  • In both Harry Potter and The Dresden Files, Merlin, who was once a great wizard, now has his name forever immortalized as a title of a superb or high-ranking magic user.
  • In Artemis Fowl, there's the Butler family, who have served as butlers to the Fowl family for generations. According to the first book, there is some dispute about whether the Butler family changed their name to suit their role, at some point in antiquity--or if the term 'Butler' was actually derived from the famously faithful and competent Butler family.[[/folder]]
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[[folder:Video Games]]
  • The epilogue of Mass Effect 3 reveals that the Mass Effect trilogy has really been an old man telling a story to his grandchild about how "the Shepard" saved the galaxy. This is likely due to Future Imperfect, since the epilogue is set a long time after the trilogy, and only adds to Shepard's being a Messianic Archetype.
  • In Half-Life 2 Gordon Freeman is called "The Freeman" by Vortigaunts and "The One Free Man" by some rebels.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • In Girl Genius, Agatha is "The True Heterodyne" - a title falsely claimed by some others as well.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
  • As previously mentioned the title of the ruler of several post-Roman cultures is a local derivation of the surname Caesar. Two examples are the German "kaiser" and Russian "tsar".
  • The formal mode of address for a Scottish clan leader is "the <clan name>" (e.g. Robert the Bruce).
  • "Korol" means "king" in Russian and many Slavic languages, and derives from Karl, Charles, Charlemagne.
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Indices: Meaningful Titles, Naming Conventions

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • December 4, 2012
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • Likely overlapping with Future Imperfect, the epilogue of Mass Effect 3 reveals that the trilogy has been an old man telling a story to his grandchild about how "the Shepard" saved the galaxy.
  • December 4, 2012
    KTera
    • In Half Life 2 Gordon Freeman is called "The Freeman" by Vortigaunts and "The One Free Man" by some rebels.
  • December 4, 2012
    Tiiba
    In Girl Genius, Agatha is "The True Heterodyne" - a title falsely claimed by some others as well. I haven't seen her called anything else, like queen or princess.
  • December 4, 2012
    henke37
    Not to be confused with His Name Is Barkeep.
  • December 4, 2012
    DaibhidC
    The formal mode of address for a Scottish clan chief is "The <clan name>".
  • December 4, 2012
    StarSword
  • December 4, 2012
    StarSword
    Added new examples.
  • December 4, 2012
    Tallens
    Lest anyone start complaining about stock phrases, may I suggest Name Becomes Title?
  • December 5, 2012
    StarSword
    Agreed. Makes more sense than the current name, anyway.
  • December 5, 2012
    Jaqen
    Real Life:

    "Caesar" was originally just the surname of Gaius Julius, hence Kaiser, Tsar etc.

    "Korol" means "king" in Russian and many Slavic languages, it derives from Karl, Charles, Charlemagne.
  • December 5, 2012
    StarSword
    Added.

    Can we get some description help from somebody?
  • December 5, 2012
    Tallens
    I'll give it a shot.

    Usually a person in a given position will be granted a title pertaining to or derived from that position. Occasionally, one comes along who is so effective or becomes so well-known that his or her name becomes nearly synonymous with the position, effectively replacing any titles that existed before. Any successors will from then on be known by their predecessors name, which has become the title of that position.

    Truth In Television as this has happened a number of times in real life, the most notable, perhaps, being Julius Caesar who's name was adopted by the emperors of Rome and has been used in various forms as a title for rulers through the centuries.
  • December 5, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Works for me. Adjusted examples to compensate.
  • December 5, 2012
    PaulA
    I don't think that the Scottish clan leader thing is really an example of this trope. Nor is the Girl Genius example, which is just the clan leader thing again with a fictional family.
  • December 19, 2012
    Tallens
    Would the Leeroy Jenkins title in World Of Warcraft count? <name> Jenkins.
  • January 6, 2013
    StarSword
  • March 12, 2013
    Tallens
    Other than Ceasar, I really can't think of many instances if this happening, fictional or otherwise. And a lot of the current examples don't actually seem to fit.
  • March 12, 2013
    thewriter
    In both Harry Potter and The Dresden Files, Merlin, who was once a great wizard, now has his name forever immortalized as a title of a superb or high-ranking magic user.
  • March 12, 2013
    grenekni3t
    (From His Name Really Is Barkeep:)
    • In Artemis Fowl, there's the Butler family, who have served as butlers to the Fowl family for generations. According to the first book, there is some dispute about whether the Butler family changed their name to suit their role, at some point in antiquity--or if the term 'Butler' was actually derived from the famously faithful and competent Butler family.
  • March 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Doctor Who series 6 it's as much as stated that the Doctor is the inspiration for the word "Doctor" in many languages, meaning anything from a healer (as it is in English) to a warrior.
  • April 24, 2013
    Tallens
    As it stands,I don't think the Mass Effect or Half Life examples really fit with the trope as described.
  • April 24, 2013
    acrobox
    the word 'Mentor' finds its origins in Greek mythology. It was the name of Hercules son who provided a 'mentor role' to Telemachus, and who Athena took the disguise of to give others encouragement.
  • April 25, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Related to Person As Verb.
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