I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. 'Toaster', 'refrigerator', 'blender' ... all you do is say what the shit does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute:
"Hey, what does that do?"
"It keeps shit fresh."
"Well, that's a 'fresher'. ... I'm going on break!"
The ability to deduce the name of a creature or device by examining it.
It is not in and of itself strange that a person would come up with a name for the strange alien monster they come across. What makes Namedar
strange is that whatever name the observer comes up with — be he a scientist, soldier, or six year old child, it will turn out that this actually is
the monster's name, and it will catch on universally.
This is facilitated by the fact that such a name will inevitably reflect some aspect of what the monster does or what it looks like
— though it might seem strange that an alien might name itself after an Earth creature it bears a passing resemblance to. Also, from a PR standpoint, as an alien race, calling yourself "The Brainsuckuloids" is going to make it difficult for you to convince any passing humans that you're not interested in sucking out their brains — especially
if you do
come from the planet Brainsuckulus IV.
At times, we may propose this is all the result of the Translation Convention
, though the sorts of shows which do this generally haven't thought it all the way through. Other times, it is based on the concept that every entity has its own metaphysically correct true name
This is at least Older Than Radio
: Mark Twain's Excerpts From Adam's Diary
depicts Eve walking around, intuitively naming things based on what they look like; she named Niagara Falls "Niagara Falls" because it ''looked like Niagara Falls''
When it turns out the nickname isn't the real name after all, it may lead to Accidental Misnaming
. On the other hand, characters independently deducing a particularly unlikely name may be played for comedy via Strange Minds Think Alike
. Also related to Everyone Calls Him Barkeep
(where everyone calls the character by profession because they don't know his name). It may turn out that His Name Really Is Barkeep
- In ElfQuest, Cutter names the oasis the wolfriders arrive at early on 'Sorrow's End'. Turns out, that's exactly what the elves living there call it as well...
- Averted in an Invincible crossover with the Marvel universe. Invincible is teleported to different realities (against his will) and encounters Batman and Spiderman. So when the latter introduce him to the Avengers, he tries (and fails) to deduce their names, going with "Robot man, Claw Man, Flag Man, Fabio Man, Bat-Woman and, uh… Black Man."
- Averted in The Walking Dead, where different groups have different names for the zombies, such as one group calling them biters, and another calling them 'roamers' and 'lurkers' based on their walking habits.
- The Graboids and other creatures from Tremors, but only due to the prequel (number 4).
- One of the lamer jokes in Men In Black 2 was the Ballchinian, whose balls are just under his chin.
- In The Last of the Sky Pirates in The Edge Chronicles, Rook sees some creatures and names them Snickets. In The Stone Pilot, a character who lost contact with the outside world before Rook was even born uses the word.
- Lampshaded: SF author George Alec Effinger's character "Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson" posits (in a narrated aside) that the Japanese government keeps a list of names to apply to new kaiju, as they turn up, just like weather bureaus keep for hurricanes.
- The sperm whale in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy names the wind, his tail, and the ground.
- A mundane example in the YA book Speak: Melinda nicknames an antagonistic teacher "Mr. Neck" in her narration, because he has a thick neck. Later a piece of Bathroom Stall Graffiti refers to him by the same name. Maybe this is the Translation Convention at work for the reader's benefit, maybe the author forgot that wasn't his real name, or maybe it is his real name.
- High-level wizards in the Earthsea Trilogy are implied to have Namedar for people's True Names, which is used in coming-of-age ceremonies, among other things.
- In Eifelheim, a 14th-century Catholic priest encounters technologically advanced aliens who tell him (in very rough terms) about various concepts of modern science. The priest, in an effort to understand better, gives the new (to him) concepts names coming from Latin and Greek... which coincidentally happen to be exactly the names used by our twentieth-century science (e.g. he calls one of the aliens' devices a "machine of small voices", mikrofoneh.)
- Averted in Greg Egan's Diaspora. Among the people studying some newly-discovered organisms is a small group that decides to call them "Wang's Carpets". It doesn't matter what anyone else might choose to call them since their mental translation software would automatically make the substitution as necessary. We're manifestly in on the group because from that point on everyone appears to use the term. (Wondering what if anything they call themselves proves to be the wrong question.)
- Extremely common in Power Rangers. Sometimes, this can be justified (as in Power Rangers SPD, where the alien monsters were all wanted criminals with outstanding warrants), but usually, it appears that Zordon, Dimitria, DECA, or whoever is acting as Mission Control can literally deduce the names of things by scanning them. (Some fans theorize that these characters have met the monsters before as part of their personal backstories, but as most of the monsters were created on the spot at the beginning of the episode, this seems unlikely.)
- In the case of MMPR, Zordon may know who some or all of the monsters are because Rita has used them before. Most notably, the Knasty Knight.
- Doctor Who did this from time to time.
- Averted by the 2007 Flash Gordon; Dr. Zarkov coins the term "rift blaster" for the device the Mongonians use to cross between Earth and Mongo. While Flash and Dale adopt the term, the Mongonians continue to use their own name for the device.
- Upon arriving at the city of Atlantis, there's some argument about whether to call the ships they find, which are clearly intended to go through the Stargate, "Puddle Jumpers" or "Gate Ships." The former is adopted by the Atlantis expedition, but one episode reveals that "Gate Ship" is what the original Atlanteans called them (through Translation Convention), and the whole thing's become something of a running gag since.
- And the "life-signs detector". It's accurate, sure, but it hardly rolls off the tongue. Not to mention its acronym.
- Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: In a flashback, Doctor Stuart Power identifies Soaron on first sight as a "BioDredd". Given that the BioDredds are based in part on his own research, it's reasonable that he would know what that class of being was called. What makes somewhat less sense is that "BioDredd" is apparently a scientific term with a rigorously-defined taxonomic definition for that type of creature, possibly even the name Doctor Power himself came up with in his plans to construct peaceful robotic helpers.
- In In Nomine, a Seraph in service to the Archangel Yves automatically learns the true name of any sapient being it touches, as well as the correct name of any object it handles.
- Transformers, to a degree, are guilty of this. While nobody's ever guessed their names, most seem strangely appropriate once known (such as a character with the power to turn invisible being named Mirage). To be fair, the Transformers themselves have been known to change their names to match when they get new forms and abilities.
- While the re-naming is true of Beast Wars, the original G1 cartoon & comic had some Fridge Logic when one considers that Bumblebee was called that before coming to Earth. At the time the Transformers had never met organic life forms (which is why Teleetraan 1 confuses cars and planes as the dominant lifeforms) so the Transformers do not even have a concept of what is a Bumblebee!
- In fact, while the oldest known bees date to the Cretaceous age, the Bombus genus, to which bumblebees belong only dates back 35 million years. In some versions of the Transformers universe, Bumblebee predates actual bumblebees.
- According to the Movies they picked names they liked or closest fit their real names in the process of learning English. Whatever his Cybertronian name is, it's likely to be close or in the feeling of Bumblebee.
- Similarly to the Transformers, My Little Pony characters tend to have names that reflect their special talent and/or cutie mark, with a few exceptions.
- Chrono Trigger: Subverted: Ayla calles Lavos by its correct name because in her language "la vos" means "big fire" (Lavos came down as a giant fireball in her time). The term originated from her, as she is the chief of the only major human civilization at the time. Thanks to the mind boggling confusion that is time travel, there is a perfectly acceptable explanation as to why the name is mentioned in 1999, but never in between, but this page is not for explaining such things.
- Subverted in Super Robot Wars Original Generation when they first come in contact with the Inspectors. Gilliam guesses they are the 'Guests'... but the leader of the Inspectors simply goes "Oh, you've heard of those guys? Well, call us the Inspectors." Inspector and Guests turn out to be the names of two factions from the same star system. Also, earlier on was averted by the Balmarians, who are called 'Aerogators' by humans. But they don't converse enough with humans to ever hear their codename...
- Diablo has an old man who actually works as the resident Namedar: his job is to identify any unknown item you pick up so you can sell it.
- Under the hood, an object's name in Diablo is calculated as a function of its various attributes (for example, the suffix "of the Tiger" refers to a specific attack modifier), so in the model world of the game, Namedar is a real physical law, and names following the pattern will be automatically deduced for, say, novel items created using a game editor.
- Spoofed in Simon the Sorcerer. Early in the game you have to gain the assistance of a group of wizards, but they insist they're not wizards (so they won't have to do anything). Most sensible comments on why they must be wizards is deflected; the proper choice is to tell them that the text says "wizards" when you drag the pointer over them.
- In Touhou, Rinnosuke's ability tells him the name and function of any object just by looking at it. This is pretty useful, seeing as he deals in objects from the outside world that most anyone else in Gensokyo wouldn't know about. Unfortunately, the info isn't perfect; his power doesn't tell him how to work the danged things, or where to find fuel for them, etc. For example: his power told him that an iPod can "store and play a lot of music", but he has no clue how to store music or make it play (and he doesn't know how to use a computer without shorting them, so he's SOL anyway). And he thought a Game Boy was an Artifact of Doom because his power told him that it "Controls everything; making people fight, starting wars, and possibly even destroying worlds". What it neglected to tell him is that all the stuff it controls is imaginary.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena refers to most enemies by name when they appear. The trope is lampshaded and justified once she starts naming Aurum enemies.
- Sent up in Luminous Arc 2, where a character mentions Silver Magic, prompting the other Witches (who all use various elemental magic) to compare notes and eventually conclude none of them have ever heard of it. The first character admits that's mostly because she made the name up on the spot.
- The Pokédex in the Pokémon games and anime will provide names for Pokémon who were previously undiscovered. Justified in most cases as Pokémon are named after the noises they make and the ones that don't can talk and will say their names when asked. There are a few rare species that don't make any specific noise and don't talk, however. In these cases, what a Pokédex says goes.
- Spoofed in 8-bit Theater: Black Mage tells the other Light Warriors about his encounter with a Dark God who gave him his class change. The others don't believe him and ask for the Dark God's name as proof. Unfortunately, said God didn't state his name so Black Mage makes up the name "Darko, Dark God of the Dark" on the spot.
- This It's Walky! strip. "Whenever we mention we're from the planet Alien, we get the strangest looks!"
- Apparently, Namedar is an inherent ability of Goblin Shamans in the pseudo-D&D world of Goblins. When a new goblin is born, the Shaman somehow predicts their future traits, skills, talents, and/or fate, and gives them an appropriate name. Which can be quite unfortunate if you name happens to be 'Dies Horribly'.
- Amusingly, Minmax the Barbarian displays some Namedar-like skills early on when he fights Complains Of Names... though guessing his name was made somewhat easier by the fact that Complains Of Names was complaining about his name at the time.
- Indx, a Pixl in L's Empire can identify the name of anything, and snark, that's pretty much it.
- Two groups of physicists working independently in 1940, one at Berkeley, and one at Cambridge University, both did theoretical work finding reactions that would produce two new elements after uranium. Independently, both groups had decided to call these elements neptunium and plutonium. Not too amazing a coincidence when you consider the fact that uranium is named for Uranus, and the next two planets in line are Neptune and Pluto (the latter still having been considered a major planet at the time).
- Referenced in Harry Turtledove's TL-191 Alternate History series, where one group of scientist comes up with the Real Life names, while the other decides to work backwards through planets instead and calls them saturnium and jovium.
- Real life (as far as we know) subverted this in the case of the word "robotics"; when Isaac Asimov first used the term, he though it was already used because of it being a natural extrapolation of the word robot; he's currently considered to have coined the term.