Meaningful Name

Alexandria: This "Odious" — he bad man?
Roy: Oh yeah.

A name that has a direct, barely-hidden meaning to it. The first, second/third/middle/nth, last, or full name says something primal about the character. Often has multiple layers. To hide the meaning a bit, use an alternate spelling or foreign equivalent. Instead of writers having to make up random words or think of real names, they can use mythological names or old words.

As an example, it is common to use for heroic characters names associated with hunting. So, apart from Hunter, which is a valid first and last name in English, you can use a translation to another language (Jäger, or the phonetic Yeager); the name of a predatory animal (Wolf, Hawk) or a translation of that (Wolfe, Lupin, Lupis, Wulf); or Orion, the constellation of The Hunter. Which is kinda cool, which is why this can double up with Awesome Mc Cool Name.

Often, the characters in-universe are completely unaware that a name has any meaning, and act as if the name was just like any other. If this is the case, the name is a sort of Unusually Uninteresting Sight. This can be Played for Laughs when the characters are Comically Missing the Point, or alternatively, can become a Chekhov's Gun if the name turned out to be an important plot device.

Sometimes used more subtly; the Meaningful Name only becomes obvious in hindsight, but when the clincher is revealed it's a moment of "Now how did I miss that?"

Self-chosen names can manifest this naturally, but may make the character look arrogant if the symbolism is too blatant. This can be a problem with bestowed names as well; although the character didn't create it, if he accepts it without much objection, the effect is similar.

Very common in cartoons, where the meaning is most times not hidden at all, except that the target audience may not have the vocabulary to get the joke. Also common in Anime, since Japanese names have a lot of obvious literal meaning to start with. See notes at Theme Naming.

Real-life examples of this are often referred to as "aptronyms". The magazine New Scientist refers to it as "nominative determinism" in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and encourages people to send examples in. The proper name for this trope is "charactonym".

This goes back to the Bible and probably turns up in the books of other religions, due to the way that names in many different cultures had significance beyond the merely cosmetic.

When additions or alterations to names signify stronger versions of said beings, that's Tiered by Name. If the name is explicitly a description, it's a Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom. If it's just the initials that are meaningful, you have a Significant Monogram.

Compare Named After Somebody Famous, Prophetic Names, Steven Ulysses Perhero, They Call Him "Sword". Contrast with Nonindicative Name. Also compare/contrast with Ironic Name. See also Names to Run Away from Really Fast, which is about names indicating being a Badass and heavily overlaps with this trope, and Punny Name, which many of these names fall into as well. See also Meaningful Rename, for when the name is changed to something significant after the fact. Can also be related to Dead Guy Junior if the naming is intended to symbolize a deceased in-universe character's legacy in some way.


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     Newspaper Comics 

     Theme Parks 

  • LEGO at one point caused quite a controversy for trying to trademark words from the Maori language as BIONICLE names. These included Tohunga (craftsman, name of the resourceful villagers), Toa (champion, name of the heroes), Turaga (village chief), Kanohi (face, used as masks in BIONICLE), and a collection of others. After the controversy, which had forced LEGO to change a few of these names (most famously Tohunga to Matoran), they began using made-up words, although the on-line games occasionally still took meaningful words from existing languages like Finnish, Egyptian, Hawaiian, Hungarian or Japanese — however these weren't trademarked, and the few that were had to have their spellings changed. A lot of the made-up names also have clear meanings:
    • Axonn: carries a mighty ax
    • Brutaka: a brutal brute
    • Barraki: undersea mutants, named after barracuda:
      • Kalmah: calamari ("kalmah" is also a Karelian word roughly meaning "to the grave")
      • Ehlek: eel
      • Mantax: manta ray
      • Carapar: crab with a carapace
    • Hydraxon and Hydruka: in reference to the underwater setting
    • Spinax: a spiny creature
    • the Phantoka Makuta have bat-themed names:
      • Antroz: Antrozous pallidus or pallid bat
      • Chirox and his Matoran partner Kirop: chiroptera, the order of the bats
      • Vamprah: vampire
    • most of the Light and Shadow Matoran have light-based names:
      • Tanma: tan
      • Radiak: radiation
      • Photok: photon
      • Solek: Sol, or Sun
    • Vultraz, an evil Matoran manning a black-and-gray jet: vulture
    • Mistika: fighters in the mist
    • Bitil and Krika, two Makuta suffering Mode Lock as insects: beetle and cricket
    • Mutran, a Makuta specializing in mutations and transformations
    • Icarax: Icarus — in the sense that he liked to aim too high, not that his wings stopped working
    • Ignika, a mask used to re-ignite the life of Mata Nui
    • Voya Nui, a floating island: voyage
    • Karda Nui, Mata Nui's heart-chamber: cardiac
    • Rockoh: a jet operated by Pohatu, a Stone-element character
    • Jetrax: another jet
    • Axalara: accelerate
    • Umbra: real Latin name that has the same meaning in-universe, darkest part of a shadow. Actually a deceptive name, since he has light-powers
    • Skirmix: a steed used in skirmishes
    • Fero: a ferocious bandit
    • Boxor: a mech that punches
    • Bara Magna, the desert planet: from "barren"
    • Aqua Magna, the water planet (literally means "great/powerful water")
    • Bota Magna, the jungle planet
    • Solis magna, Bara magna's sun - Literally, "great sun"
    • a lot of elemental suffixes are meaningful:
      • Ba-: gravity, from the Greek baros (weight)
      • Bo-: green, again from botanics
      • Ce-: psionics, from cerebrum (brain)
      • De-: sonics, from decibel
      • Fa-: magnetism, from Michael Faraday, who studued electromagnetism
      • Fe-: iron
      • Su-: plasma, from superheating (kind of a stretch, but that's the official explanation)
    • And of course almost all the names have their own in-universe meanings in the fictional BIONICLE languages

     Web Comics 
  • Creative Retort Man from Zero Percent Discount.
  • Mock, from 1/0, turns out to be an adept shape-shifter.
  • Almost everyone in Gloomverse has a name related to their power set. Seaweed, Lady Nim, Petunia, Professor Purple....
  • The names in Homestuck.
    • The post-scratch counterpart of John is named Jane.
    • 'Lalonde' may be a play on Jérôme Lalande, who was known for being a writer and an astronomer, just like Rose's post-scratch self was.
    • 'Roxy' is short for 'Roxanne' which means 'Bright' or 'Star', an inversion of her aspect, Void, which has to deal with the dark and nothingness.
    • Dave's post-scratch counterpart is named Dirk.
    • 'Jade' is a semi-precious green stone, tying in to her Earth and green theme.
    • Mostly the ones of the trolls:
      • 'Aradia' was a witch goddess, and 'Damara' is a breed of sheep. 'Megido' is derived from 'Armageddon'; or 'Meido'.
      • 'Tavros' is greek for 'Taurus', and 'Rufioh' comes frome 'Yu-Gi-Oh!'. 'Nitram' is the reverse for 'Martin'.
      • 'Sollux' and 'Captor' are 'Pollux and Castor' with the S and P reversed. 'Mituna' is short for the Sanskrite name 'Mithuna'.
      • 'Karkat' comes from the Sanskrite name 'Karkata', and 'Kankri' comes evidenly from 'Cancer'. 'Vantas' is a cancer treatment.
      • 'Nepeta' comes from the Latin name for catnip, and 'Meulin' sounds like Merlin, referencing her title as a Mage. 'Leijon' is Swedish for 'Lion'.
      • 'Kanaya' comes from the Sanskrite name 'Kanya', and 'Porrim' is a star in the Virgo constellation. 'Maryam' references the virgin Mary.
      • 'Terezi' is Albaneze for 'Scales', and 'Latula' comes from the Sanskrite name Tula. 'Pyrope' comes from a red pyralspite stone.
      • 'Vriska' comes from the Sanskrite name 'Vrschika', and 'Aranea' comes from 'Arachnid'. 'Serket' was an Egyptian scorpion goddess.
      • 'Equius' comes from 'Equus', and 'Horuss' sounds like 'Horse'. 'Zahhak' rougly means: 'The one who has 10,000 horses'.
      • 'Gamzee' comes from 'Gamze' (coquettish look), and 'Kurloz' comes from the Chinese pronouncation of the word 'Skeletons' (Kūlóu). 'Makara' was an Indian seagoat creature.
      • 'Eridan' comes from 'Eridanus', and 'Cronus' from an ancient greek ruler. 'Ampora' is a greek vase Aquarius carries.
      • 'Feferi' comes from the Latin name for cuttlefish, and 'Meenah' comes from the Meena caste of India, who claim to be descended from Matsya, the fish avatar of Vishnu, and the Sanskrite name 'Mina'. 'Peixes' is Portugese for 'Fish'.
  • El Goonish Shive: Immortals tend to give themselves names. Sometimes they're self-important, sometimes they're plain. Pandora Chaos Raven chose hers deliberately to be meaningful with all three segments, and told Magus (after beating the crap out of him) to call her by one or any, she was all of them: Pandora (after Pandora's Box; she actually sees herself more as the box, but even fewer people got it when she called herself 'Box') Chaos (she hates being able to predict things based on what she knows), and Raven (her married name).

Alternative Title(s): Significant Name, Astonishingly Appropriate Name, Appropriate Name, Nomen Est Omen, The Name Says It All