"Lord Wingus Eternum is short. My true name would begin with a dawn, end with the moon, and ravage your mind like a nightmare."When you introduce someone, you probably add a brief title and description so that each person gets a little more information than, "Bob, this is Alice. Alice, Bob." One might say Bob scuba dives, or Alice just got her pilot's license. These people cut out the middle man. "Runs With Bulls", "The Forgotten Flame of Endless Unmarked Years", "The Princess Magnificent With Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers"...you get the idea. Appropriate or not, the name is a full description. See also Overly Long Name, Purple Prose, and Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!. Compare The Noun Who Verbed and Preppy Name.
— Lord Wingus Eternum, Spliced
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Anime and Manga
- This causes a bit of a Dub-Induced Plot Hole in Durarara!!. One of the main characters is named Mikado Ryugamine, which means "Emperor of the Dragon's Peak." It's pretty much exactly as strange as if someone walked up to you and said "Hi, my name is Emperor of the Dragon's Peak." Unfortunately, we don't translate Japanese names, so English viewers are left confused as to why everyone is making such a big deal out of his name.
- The title character in With the Light is given a name on the first page meaning "Light of the East"; his surname, Azuma, is the nanori (proper name pronunciation) of "higashi," meaning "east." Not to be outdone, his little sister Kanon's full name would be, loosely translated, "the sound of eastern flowers"; her mother decided to give her the name Kanon, written with the kanji letters for "flower" and "sound," after hearing a canon playing on the radio while giving birth.
- In Drug & Drop, Kazahaya lists off Rikuou's name as being one of the many stupid things about him because it sounds like a religious landmark, but then has to acknowledge that his own does too.
- The "Flame-Haired Blazing-Eyed Hunter", eventually renamed Shana.
- In the Immortal Iron Fist series, the seven Immortal Weapons have names like Tiger's Beautiful Daughter and Bride of Nine Spiders. Technically these are titles, but in some cases we never learn their personal names.
- The Great Ten were a Chinese superhero group in the pre-new-52 DC Universe. Most of its members had names that fit this trope. The members are: Accomplished Perfect Physician, August General in Iron, Celestial Archer, Ghost Fox Killer, Immortal Man-in-Darkness, Mother of Champions, the Seven Deadly Brothers, Shaolin Robot, Socialist Red Guardsman, and Thundermind.
- Likewise with DC's Japanese superhero team, the Super Young Team. Introduced in Final Crisis, their names were meant to sound transliterated. The group included Most Excellent Superbat, Sonic Lightning Flash, Shy Crazy Lolita Canary, Shiny Happy Aquazon, and Big Atomic Lantern Boy.
- DC Comics' Lobo, although his name sounds like a common word for "wolf", actually took his name from a Khundish word meaning, "He who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it."
- In The Power of the Press one of Harry's tutors, Julius Augustus Murphy, has an Indian name which means "He Who Soars With Eagles."
- In Lady Black, Lord Potter the American member of the International Confederation of Wizards has a name which translates as "Wiggles With Grace." She insists on Harry referring to her as simply Grace.
- The Fifth Element has Leeloo, whose full name translates as "Precious Stone of the Earth, Defender of Light and Life, the Honorable". Her sobriquet means "Stone".
- Dances with Wolves includes Native American characters with names like Stands With A Fist and Wind In His Hair... also averted in one instance, with one character who's simply named Otter.
- In the Berserker story, "Pilots of the Twilight", Holt was raised by the 'Reen who named him, translated roughly, "He-orphaned-and-helpless-whom-we-obliged-are-to-take-in-but-why-us?". Upon return to human society he was given the name Holt Calder.
- In The Host, Souls choose their own names, which are often the old names of their host bodies; sometimes they chance them when they get a new host, sometimes not. As such, the Souls in the book, who are inhabiting humans, can have names like "Kathy," or things like "Fords Deep Waters," "Sunlight Passing Through the Ice," and "Rides the Beast."
- In Reaper Man, Mrs. Cake's spirit guide is One-Man-Bucket. He's the ghost of a man descended from Howandaland natives whose tribe's naming convention is to name the baby after the first thing the mother sees. His full name is One-Man-Pouring-A-Bucket-Of-Water-Over-Two-Dogs. His slightly-older twin brother "would have given his right arm to be called Two-Dogs-Fighting".
- There are also kings accidentally named in this fashion, because they are literally named after what the priest at the ceremony says, leading to such gems as King My-God-He's-Heavy The First of Lancre.
- Discworld also parodies the Puritan convention, with Omnians having names like Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-They-Who-Exalteth-Om, Smite-The-Unbeliever-With-Cunning-Arguments and Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets. There's also Sam Vimes's ancestor Suffer-Not-Injustice.
- In Snuff, it is revealed that goblins are all named like a cross between Magical Native Americans and Exalted characters—"Tears of the Mushroom," "Regret of the Falling Leaf," "Shine of the Rainbow," "Sound of the Rain on Hard Ground," "The Pleasant Contrast of the Orange and Yellow Petals in the Flower of the Gorse," and so forth. This poetic/artistic streak in a species that most people treat like intelligent vermin is significant to the plot, although their exact naming conventions are never precisely explained. They're apparently loose translations, and only a word or two in Goblin. Abbreviating a goblin's name is a good way to make it violently angry unless it is very well disposed towards the negligent human.
- In China Miéville's novel Embassytown, the alien Hosts mark certain human residents as similes to be used in their everyday language; the main characters is formally named "there was a human girl who in pain ate what was given to her in an old room built for eating in which eating had not happened for a time," or "the girl who ate was given to her" for short.
- The Stormlight Archive has a character known as "Rock" whose real name (Nuhumukumakiaki'aialunamor) is an entire poem in his native language about a rock his father found just before he was born. Apparently everybody in his culture has names like that.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- The Lord of the Rings: In Entish, all names, possibly all nouns, are comprehensive descriptions of the person or thing in question. They consider anything else to be "hasty". Treebeard only uses that name for the convenience of non-Ents. His true name is apparently his entire biography, and given that he's one of the oldest living things in Middle Earth, it's basically an epic-length novel. In other words, when you ask someone "Who are you?" they will tell you their name. When you ask an Ent his name, he will tell you who he is.
- Melkor, the Big Bad of The Silmarillion (and Tolkien's entire cosmology), has his name translate as "He Who Arises in Might".
- The cats of the Tribe of Rushing Water in Warrior Cats are named after the first thing their mother sees when the cat is born, e.g. Brook Where Small Fish Swim, Night of No Stars, etc. One character remarks that in his mind, this would lead to a lot of cats being named Roof of Cave, Wall of Cave, or Floor of Cave.
- Even the tribe itself is like this, seeing as it was named after the waterfall guarding its cave.
- In the Keys to the Kingdom book Lady Friday, the Winged Servants of the Night all have names like this. For example: "The One Who Survived The Darkness".
- In the Honor Harrington series, the non-human sentients known as Treecats have descriptive names giving an insightful view of them. Notable names have included "Laughs Brightly", "Swift Striker" and "Echo of Time". Humans have also been awarded names by treecats, such as "Death Fang's Bane", "Darkness Foe", and "Dances On Clouds". In fact, treecat names are critical to the formation of the Grand Alliance; it's the revelation of Eloise Pritchart's and Thomas Theisman's treecat names, "Truth Seeker" and "Dreams of Peace" respectively, that convince Honor the reborn Republic truly can be trusted.
- In Iain M. Banks' The Culture setting, names function as characters' addresses (although the full forms are rarely mentioned in the novels). As Banks explained:
Banks: Culture names act as an address if the person concerned stays where they were brought up. Let's take an example; Balveda, from Consider Phlebas. Her full name is Juboal-Rabaroansa Perosteck Alseyn Balveda dam T'seif. The first part tells you she was born/brought up on Rabaroan Plate, in the Juboal stellar system [...]; Perosteck is her given name (almost invariably the choice of one's mother), Alseyn is her chosen name (people usually choose their names in their teens, and sometimes have a succession through their lives; [...]); Balveda is her family name (usually one's mother's family name) and T'seif is the house/estate she was raised within. The "sa" affix on the first part of her name would translate into "er" in English (we might all start our names with "Sun-Earther", in English, if we were to adopt the same nomenclature), and the "dam" part is similar to the German "von".
- At the end of the piece, he dubs himself "Sun-Earther Iain El-Bonko Banks of North Queensferry".
- Anyone and everyone associated with the Lands Born of Smoke and Sacrifice in Breaking the Wall. Up to and including the "Lands Born of Smoke and Sacrifice." Among actual characters we have Flying Claw, Honey Dream, and Righteous Drum.
- Bartimaeus's full name (according to him, anyway) is "Bartimaeus of Uruk, Sakhr al-Jinni, N'gorso the Mighty and the Serpent of Silver Plumes".
- The Hawkbrothers in the Heralds of Valdemar series choose (or are given) two-word "use-names," which can signify personality or important attributes (Steelmind, who never forgets), recall a memorable occasion from the person's life (Starfall, who dove from a cliff at the moment a meteor flashed overhead), or simply be poetic (Wintersky). These can be changed at adulthood or after life-altering events (Darkwind was known as Songwind in happier times).
- In Doctrine of Labyrinths, Mildmay's name is short for Mild-May-Your-Torments-Be-At-The-Hands-Of-The-Wicked.
- The Hiths in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Original Sin all changed their names once their society was destroyed by the Earth Empire. They now call themselves things like Powerless, Friendless, Afraid And Alone, so every time they give their ID to an Earth official they're making a political point.
- The Dresden Files:
- The Outsider known as "He Who Walks Behind." Its full name is a two-minute montage of unfathomable fear, helplessness and pain. Naming conventions are unknown, but he has a brother named "He Who Walks Before." Incidentally, both of these names are at least partial descriptions of literal traits: He Who Walks Behind is always behind you, no matter how quickly you turn around. He Who Walks Before is the herald of an Outsider invasion.
- In a trilogy of short stories, Dresden has dealings with the Sasquatch, more properly known as the Forest People, who are actually highly intelligent. His main contact among them is named Strength of a River in His Shoulders, or River Shoulders for short.
- In the Star Carrier books, Turusch names are most closely translated as this. An example would be "Emphatic Blossom at Dawn", referring to an ambush hunter on their homeworld. Since the name in question belongs to a tactician, it's appropriate.
- A demon lord or perhaps some sort of quasi-deity named "The Prince Who Dreams in the Void" is mentioned in the passing in Dissolution.
- Wolves in The Wheel of Time communicate telepathically, so their names are not words but a jumble of sensations and images that are usually summarized in human language by a single descriptive word. For instance, "Hopper" is actually "A cub on a hilltop leaping repeatedly into the air as he tries to fly like an eagle", and Dapple is "Sunlight dappled through autumn trees onto piles of dead leaves with the smell of musk and earth". Wolfbrothers are adopted in the same manner: Perrin is known as Young Bull, that is "a brash young bull with gleaming metallic horns" which represent the axe that is his Weapon of Choice, while Elyas who prefers a long knife is Long Tooth, or "a wolf with one long, metallic fang."
- Flashman is adopted by an Apache tribe and, due to his horseback skills, is named White-Rider-Goes-So-Fast-He-Destroys-The-Wind-With-His-Speed. Unfortunately for convenience it's shorted to He-Who-Breaks-The-Wind or Wind Breaker. Given how Flashman farted his way down the Valley of Death at Balaclava, you could say it's appropriate.
- In Children of the Corn, the children worship an unseen demon known as "He Who Walks Behind The Rows."
- Ayesha in H. Rider Haggard's She is also known as "She-who-must-be-obeyed."
- Translating the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, written by a medieval Japanese court lady and one of the earliest diaries still in existence, Ivan Morris said he didn't feel he should transliterate the names, "for fear that they might produce a false exoticism of the 'Honorable Lady Plum Blossom' type." This is actually a dig at Lafcadio Hearn who used that exact name in an example of women's names and how their honorifics work in Japanese.
- In Remnants, the species that humans name the "Blue Meanies," who call themselves "the Children" (of Mother), all have names in the style of "[Number] [Positive Adjective] [Natural Feature]," such as "One Perfect Mountain" or "Four Divine Streams." This is to honor the artificial environments within Mother. When Yago starts a cult among the Meanies, members still follow this trope, renaming themselves things like "Yago's Catlike Grace".
Live Action TV
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Introducing the Gits—A Snivelling Little Rat-Faced Git, his wife Dreary Fat Boring Old, and their unseen son and daughters: Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced (son), Ghastly Spotty Horrible Vicious Little (daughter—the youngest), and Ghastly Spotty Cross-Eyed (daughter).
- It's possible that Terry Jones (A Snivelling Little Rat-Faced Git) misspoke by changing "Horrible Vicious Little" to "Cross-Eyed", thus accidentally creating a second daughter.
- Kamen Rider Kiva: the Fangires all have true names in that fashion. Even the one-episode Monster of the Week have names like The Sincerity and Melancholy that the Twin Impostors Dream About, The Lady Portrait Torn in a Full Moon, The Clown Dances with a Turkey at a Fireplace and so on.
- In Andromeda, Than-Thre-Kull names translate to Common as a haiku. We never hear the haiku, as they tend to shorten it for the non-Than as a key phrase from the haiku (e.g. Refractions of Dawn, Twilight, Clarion of Loss). Naturally, humans tend to shorten the names even more (e.g. Dawn). The Than don't appear to mind.
Religion And Mythology
- The Japanese god usually referred to as Susano'o-no-Mikoto is sometimes translated as His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness. Similarly, one of the first gods in existence was known as "Kotoamatsukami", or "Distinguishing Heavenly Fire". However, Ugayafukiaezu has to take the cake - not only is "Ugayafukiaezu" a pretty long name to begin with, in at least one text he's referred to as Amatsuhitaka-hiko'nakisatake-ugayafukiaezu-no-Mikoto ("Lord Heavenly Star Sun High Sun-Child Wave's Limit Currency Cormorant Grass Reed Not-Together-Life").
- Virtually everyone and everything in Exalted. Some examples are: the Princess Magnificent With Lips of Coral and Robes of Black Feathers, the First and Forsaken Lion, Seven Devil Clever, Strength of Many, etc. All give a pretty good feel for the trope. One might be inclined to think that this is because you are playing as divinely-empowered entities and the governments/organizations they form/unite under, but only in the Thousand Scales can something as mundane as being a member of the postal service get this treatment (you get a job as one of the Infallible Conveyers of Official Messages and Heartfelt Expressions, in case you are wondering).
- Both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and The Forsaken make use of deed names, wherein a werewolf's name among the Garou/Uratha usually reflects what they've done or what they do. Some examples from Apocalypse include Evan Heals-the-Past and Mephi Faster-than-Death.
- In the Dragonlance setting, each individual gnome's name is his entire family history from himself going back to the beginning of the gnomish race. They talk fast. They apply much the same principle to other things as well. Famously, Mount Nevermind (where a lot of gnomes live) got that from a human hastily cutting off a gnome starting to launch into its gnomish full name.
- Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa block, based on Japanese Mythology, has That Which Was Taken. Its Rise of the Eldrazi set, which tellingly provides the page image for Eldritch Abomination, has the card It That Betrays.
- Africa, or Czechs among Cannibals from Jára Cimrman's Theatre, penned by Ladislav Smoljak and Zdeněk Svěrák, presents an extract from The Feathered Snake which is a play within a play. It's used to demonstrate why this play by fictional dramatist Cimrman would fail in Europe. This trope is played Up to Eleven and for various characters.note
- "Jumped over the Fire and Burned Holes in his Moccasins" is the hero of the play.
- "Danced like Crazy till the Bright Day" is a fiancée of "Jumped over the Fire and Burned Holes in his Moccasins". The chief "Feathered Snake" asks whether their relationship is steady.
- "Doesn't Like Washing Herself" is another Indian girl of the tribe. Our hero wouldn't wish to live with her in one tent.
- "Petted a Marmot against the Hair" is a reputed beauty, but "Jumped over the fire" wouldn't be able to cope with her mother.
- "Screamed so much that Leaves were Falling" is the mother of the beautiful girl.
- The girlfriend's father is named "Shouldn't have Angered your Aunt" who likes her boyfriend a lot.
- The girl's mother died and her name was "Gouged her Uncle an Eye". Ouch
- "He Who Steals" is a trader. "Jumped over the Fire and Burned Holes in his Moccasins" has bought buffalo skins from him.
- The audience is also informed who played some parts in the première: "Jumped down from the Red Rock and was Winded" played the Indian chief, the female lead belonged to "Hunted Squirrels in Treetops with a Slingshot" and her boyfriend was portrayed by "Smoked a Peace Pipe even though he was not the Elder".
- Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed Slug-For-A-Butt from Earthworm Jim.
- Every single Sammer Guy of Super Paper Mario has one, each more ridiculous than the last.
- Halo's Forerunners have these names, generally; examples include Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, Glory of a Far Dawn, Splendid Dust of Ancient Suns, and Genemender Folder of Fortune. If not, they either have more traditional names like Calyx or Soma (though the belated reveal of Faber of Will and Might's full name means that those might have just been shorthand names), or they're known primarily by their title, like Librarian or Didact (though the original names of those two do fit the trope: First-Light-Weaves-Living-Song and Shadow-of-Sundered-Star respectively).
- In Mass Effect universe Hanar soul names seem to fit this trope (e.g. Regards the Works of the Enkindlers in Despair), while salarian names take a page out of The Culture's book and use them as an address (e.g. Rannadril Ghan Swa Fulsoom Karaten Narr Eadi Bel Anoleis).
- Several Argonians in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Morrowind even has a quest which centres on Haj-Ei translating as Hides His Eyes) have names like this, such as Scouts-Many-Marshes, Stands-In-Shallows, and Watches-The-Roots. Justified in that most of these are actually rough translations of their true, Argonian names. However, some seem to just be dropped on them by other races.
- The Friendly, Happy Roaches in Exile 3 and Avernum 3 all have names that describe their jobs. However since they are roaches this gives them names such as Filth Spreader.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features Emhyr var Emreis, the current emperor of Nilfgaard, who is also known in his native language as "Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd". This translates rather elegantly to "White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes"
- The webcomic Keychain of Creation, being set in the world of Exalted, has many examples of this trope. Elegant Nova of Progression, for instance, is an Alchemical Mad Scientist. Resident Abyssal "Secret" has an Overly Long Namenote , spoofing the standard Abyssal naming practice; she uses "Secret" as the short form. She has to; due to having a Stamina of 2, she passed out the first time she tried to say the entire name.
- Almost every goblin in Goblins is an example of this trope, being given their name by their tribe's shaman to reflect their destiny. The actual quality of the name can vary—one the one hand, there's Chief Kills-A-Werebear. On the other, there's Dies Horribly.
- Digger's full name is Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels. Apparently wombats follow this kind of naming convention but are more prosaic about it. The other wombat we meet is called Descending-Helix, which is probably a reference to his construction habits but is also a pun relating to the fact that he is Digger's ancestor.
- In Kill Six Billion Demons, the angels have particularly grandiose names with a number tacked on to signify how many times they’ve reincarnated, such as 82 White Chain Born in Emptiness Returns to Subdue Evil, or 6 Juggernaut Star Scours the Universe. Humans get in on the act, too, such as Allison, whose real name is Kill Six Billion Demons, and the monk Murder the Gods and Topples Their Thrones.
- There's a website called Seventh Sanctum which suggest randomized long names for your character called the Weird Name Generator.
- There is some Truth in Television to this. Most names mean something, but they normally aren't translated. Most Native American names sound like "Running Bull" or something similar in their native language, so it's usually translated in media to make sure everyone knows exactly what they were named after. This actually started with the Bureau of Indian Affairs' attempt to take Indian census. Traditionals may have several names plus assorted nicknames throughout their lifetimes. The BIA started making people use assigned names at least when dealing with the U.S. government.
- A particularly amusing Native American example is the 19th century warrior whose name was translated as "Young Man Afraid of His Horses." Apparently a more accurate translation is "Young Man Whose Enemies Fear His Horses"—in other words, the minute they see his horses coming it's Bring My Brown Pants—but either way the name belongs here.
- Actual Indian names tend to be a lot less poetic than the fictional version. For example one old Comanche woman was known as 'Carrying Her Sunshade'.
- Related to this trope, in the German language (and perhaps others), an official title or name has its spaces removed and all the constituent words are pushed together into a single run-on word. Germans who hold noble titles can't use them in Germany and must instead convert their title into their surname. Winemaker Prince Donatus of Hesse's legal name is Donatus Prinz von Hessen, while Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Prince Frederick of Anhalt is known in Germany as Frederick Prinz von Anhalt.
- Names of Germanic origin are often this, if translated. And, while not Names to Run Away from Really Fast, there are many that are names to back away from slowly with your hands up—you wouldn't want to mess with a woman who is called Spear-in-Battle for example.
- Some English Puritans of the 17th century made something of a habit of giving their children over-the-top religious names, like Praise-God and Fly-Fornication (yes, really). One child—Praise-God's son, actually—ended up being called Nicholas If-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone. Unfortunately, when he grew up he proved to be of loose morals and was generally known as Damned Barebone for short. He's actually kind of important. (For that matter, so was his father.)
- This sort of name is still current among Christians in sub-Saharan Africa, giving us names like Goodluck Jonathan (a recent president of Nigeria).
- Fly-fornication Bull, incredibly, became pregnant out of wedlock by a yeoman named Goodman Woodman(!).
- Other puritans named their children Fight-The-Good-Fight-of-Faith White, Kill-Sin Pemble, and Much-mercye, Sin-denie, and Fear-Not Healy (these last three are siblings).
- Translations of The Bible frequently spell out the meaning of a person's given name in its original language. One of the most famous examples is the name of the angel Michael, which is actually a complete question: "Who is like God?"
- Almost all Christian names do have a discrete meaning in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin; however, most are simple words or phrases (e.g. Benjamin=Hebrew Bin-yamin, "Son of the Right [hand]"; James/Jacob=Hebrew Ya'aqov, "Heel"; Mary=Hebrew Miriam, "She of Strong Will"; Ruth=Hebrew Rut, "Companion"). However, some names are in fact full sentences: "John" is short of Hebrew Yehonahan which means "God is Merciful", and both "Joshua" and "Jesus" are Anglicizations of "Yeshua" which is itself a shortening of "Yehoshua": "God is salvation." Rather fitting for its most famous bearer, don't you think?
- The registered show names of dogs and horses are often long-winded and rather ridiculous. Naturally, most people give the animal a "call name" that's much shorter and more pronounceable, and only use the long name at shows or for formal identification.'
- Spoofed in Littlest Pet Shop (2012), where there's a show dog whose full name appears to be "Princess Stori (Heart Over The First I)", describing how it's supposed to be stylized when written.
- On a simpler level, this is also where Europeans got most of their surnames. A lot of them came from the family profession, a person's lineage, or the town a person came from. "Smith" meant "the blacksmith." "Miller" was the guy who ran the flour mill. "Hanson" was literally "the son of Hans." "Norton" was "the guy from North Town."