Hardison: The kid's from her first marriage. Widmark.
Elliot: Whoa, I'm sorry, Widmark?
: Rich people, man.
Want to make your character sound wealthy? Just give them a snobby rich kid name. In American works, this is for those names like Chase (or Chace
, or in older programs, Libby
(which is a name more strongly associated with commoners now). For extra pretentiousness points, add a Roman numeral at the end to indicate that the name itself is a legacy. "The Third
" seems to be the most popular. Girls may also be given traditionally male names
such as Spencer
, Logan, or Blake
(In baby-name circles, this "take a trendy up-and-coming boys' name and apply it to a female fictional character already in her mid-teens/mid-30s" thing is a Berserk Button
, by the way). Men with names like Stacey or Ashley also apply. The character may also have more than one middle name. Their last names will often be of more than one word such as St. John, St. Claire, or a Dutch heritage name like Van (de) -something. Most often, the last name will suggest a British heritage
to lend that all-important Founding Fathers touch, and will often be derived from a British place-name — Hastings
, or Montgomery
If the setting and characters are
British, these types of names would be described as "posh", "rah" (as in "tally-ho, rah!", a stereotypically posh exclamation), or "Sloaney" names, the latter named for London's Sloane Square
, an upper-class haunt. Unlike in the US, Roman numerals would never
be used, and would be viewed as uppity and vulgar. Given names will be either very
traditional — think Royal
names like William (Wills), Henry, Rupert for boys, and Catherine, Elizabeth, Victoria for girls, OR more unusual, quite eccentric names like Rafferty, Rollo, Crispin, Finnbar, Tarquin, Arabella, Pandora, Binky (yep), Cressida etc that sound like something straight out of Arthurian legend or Shakespeare. The surname will always
be hyphenated and sound as though it could be the name of a particularly expensive law firm if you slapped "LLP" on the end — Cholmondeley-Browne
, etc. Essentially, an English girl called something like "Araminta Fortescue-Thompson" probably has a flat on Sloane Square, does a bit of light PR as a "job", spends most of her time shopping on the King's Road, and has a family that owns half of Yorkshire.
Note — although preppy last
names in the US and UK will be very similar (as mentioned above, preppy last-names in the US will often suggest a British heritage), it's worth mentioning that there is a huge
degree of cultural dissonance between the nations in terms of what are considered to be preppy / upper-class first
names. For example, girls' names thought of as being preppy in the US, like the aformentioned "Chace" or "Blair", would be thought of as being a bit naff, overly "trendy", and at worst, flagrantly nouveau riche in the UK (especially "Chace" spelt with a 2nd "c"). Sometimes they will even be thought of as lower
-class. But equally, to a US audience, "Sloaney-pony", posh English girls' names like "Henrietta", "Jemima", or "Arabella" sound parochial, old-fashioned, and evoke down-home, country-bumpkin types — funny, ain't it? There's also a whole segment of Celtic (mostly Irish) boys' names that are considered "chavvy
" in England and quite smart in the New World — Kevin, Liam, Kieran and the like.
For the Hispanic culture equivalent, note the constant use of the two first names, the emphasis in the last names (specially in countries where a bastard can have one if (s)he's worthy of any sort of respect
, where more legitimate children have two), or for some ridiculousness, certain kinds of nicknames. Nicknames ending in "-ina" are sometimes used to indicate a Rich Bitch
of the airhead type (i.e. Paulina from Danny Phantom
In Germany, the phenomenon of upper class parents giving their offspring more conservative names like Emil, Cornelius, or Viktoria has coined the term "Emilism" as opposed to "Kevinism", describing the tendency of lower class parents to give their children names unusual to German-speaking areas, especially Anglophonic names like the aforementioned Kevin, Justin, or Mandy.
Russia currently lacks a preppy name tradition, because its upper class is still too young and the old, traditional one is gone because of a certain unpleasantness in the early XX century
. However, there was such a tradition during the Imperial period, often showing up in classical Russian literature. Typical traits of a Russian noble name were the ending "off" rather than "ov" used in romanization, the ending "sky" which could mean descent from really old Ruthenian princes or Polish szlachta (later shamelessly imitated by Jews in the Pale of Settlement
), the universal hyphenated last name or a German last name
" optional. First names also were divided between noble and commoner; old Slavic or Scandinavian such as Oleg or Svyatoslav, or "international" Greek like Alexander were definitely preppy, and obscure Greek-derived names like Makar or Kondrat were hopelessly peasant.
France is unusual in that although the particle "de" (non capitalised, detached particle) is strongly associated with the old, even medieval aristocracy, the nobles who didn't emigrate to England during The French Revolution
often changed names or slightly modified the spelling to "blend in" — and some republicans either chose new names mocking the old establishment or already had similar names which simply used "de" to indicate a place-name (so largely like "von" in German). See Dupont, which is one of the most if not THE most common surname in France, compared to, say, du Pont de Nemours (the American industrial group), or Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin, or Philippe de Villiers. If they're worth their money their name is probably a castle somewhere.
As for first names, medieval names or names of obscure saints such as Enguerrand, Foulque, Hubert or Eudes are far more common than among the general population; vaguely Victorian-sounding names like Joséphine or Apolline for girls. Oddly, High Middle Ages-sounding names like Clovis or Harald seem to be making a comeback among the middle class
. Or, using the opposite of the most common usage of a unisex name: Camille, but only for a boy, or Claude, but only for a girl. Stock Preppy Names
(or at least "BCBG" names) in French fiction will usually include unusual combinations of hyphenated first names, such as Jean-Gabriel or Marie-Chantal or Charles-Edouard or Saison-Marguerite
. On the opposite side of the social spectrum, Kevinism is in full swing, generally attributed to working-class mothers from the late Cold War drawing baby-names from poorly-produced American soap operas, Kevin and Vanessa being the most stereotypical examples possibly due to TheYoungAndTheRestless
being extremely well-known in France (as "Les feux de l'amour") and syndicated to this day.
Note, a name associated with upper-class characters in one generation will often sound "common" in the next as working class mothers decide to name their children after characters in books or movies, members of the royal family, etc. For example, James Bond
married a very classy young woman called Theresa, known as Tracy. And she wasn't the only classy Tracy in films of that era, either. Sharon was quite a "nice" name back then too. By the 80s? Not so much. By now, Sharon and Tracy will be working class mothers whose own children have names they
considered classy when she chose them, only to discover that all the other Sharons and Tracies had chosen them for their urchins, too. (This specific example applies only to the UK; in the US, people simply stopped using
these two names, so that "Sharon" among Baby Boomers and "Tracy" among Generation X are time-capsule names, linked far
more strongly to generation than class.)
Royal names are another example of this latter phenomenon. In the late 19th Century, there was a fashion for Victoria/Victor and Albert/Alberta in honour of the queen and her husband. By the time the first Steptoe and Son
movie was made, 'Arold (Son) told Albert (Steptoe), with reference to the baby they had adopted, "Naw
, we're no' callin' 'im Albert; 's common
Compare It Is Pronounced Tro PAY
, which overlaps with this sometimes when people intentionally mispronounce a name just to make it sound more classy. A trademark of the Upper-Class Twit
and Gentleman Snarker
is the polar opposite (yet has a knack for sounding just as stupid).
Anime and Manga
- The English version of Tokyo Mew Mew gave us Corina Bucksworth (aka Aizawa Minto).
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX had a bunch of these in Chazz Princeton, Atticus and Alexis Rhodes, and Syrus and Zane Truesdale.
- Well, the school pretty much is a prep school. Also present are Jaden Yuki, Blair Flannigan, Chumley Huffington, and Bastian Misawa.
- From the original series: Pegasus J. Crawford or Maximillion Pegasus.
- Warren Worthington III.
- In The DCU, the closest thing Firestorm has to an archenemy is Danton Black, alias Multiplex.
- In the Archie comics, there's Veronica Lodge, as well as her father Hiram Lodge.
- While not canon, Watchmen fanon has invoked this trope on occasion with the suggestion that Ozymandias' full name is Adrian Werther Veidt III.
- Trading Places has Dan Aykroyd's character, Louis Winthrop III.
- Emmett Fitz-Hume in Spies Like Us.
- Aykroyd's character Austin Millbarge from the same movie sounds like one, and his character from Doctor Detroit was named Clifford Skridlow. Aykroyd seems to like these sorts of names.
- Warner Huntington III from Legally Blonde.
- The villain of the film Young Einstein is an Upper-Class Twit named Preston Preston.
- Roger Moore's character in North Sea Hijack, Rufus Excalibur Folkes, is definitely upper class but is certainly no twit.
- Blane McDonnagh from Pretty in Pink.
Duckie: His name is Blane? Oh! That's a major appliance, that's not a name!
- Dissected and analysed in Freakonomics. In an interesting inversion, the girl's name Ashley reputedly devolved from a popular middle-class girl's name to a lower-class "Wal-Mart set" girl's name.
- Devon Montgomery Johnston III from Cars, who is also simply known as DJ.
- She's The Man has the twins Sebastian and Viola Hastings. This one makes sense, though, because it's a modern retelling of a Shakespeare play.
- The Second Step Up movie has the brothers Chase and Blake Collins.
- Amusingly realised in UK rom-com Chalet Girl, where the humble, more ordinary background of the protagonist is instantly apparent during a role-call of her fellow (far sloanier) chalet girls:
"I'm Henrietta", "Isabella", "Petronella"......"um, Kim."
- Most characters in Gossip Girl.
- Gilderoy Lockhart and Justin Finch-Fletchley, and possibly also Kingsley Shacklebolt and Neville Longbottom, in Harry Potter.
- Even the lower class Weasleys have some with their childen: Ronald, Percival, and Ginevra.
- However, this partially happens because the wizard and muggle worlds are culturally different. Very different.
- Most of the Black family, with some (such as Callidora, Lycoris, and Misapinoa) bordering on pompous.
- Dalton Campbell in The Sword of Truth.
- Carson Flynn in the Mythology 101 Cycle, who is fairly rich (at least by college professor standards).
- In the Pink Carnation series, Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, Sebastion Vaughn, and Reginald Fitzhugh.
- Cotton Remington Weathington-Beech, and his school friends, in the Machine of Death story "Prison Knife Fight".
- The pornographic novel The Oxford Girl is narrated (and nominally authored) by a character named Presley Abbott.
- A lot of characters in The Princess Diaries. Justified as most of the characters are either wealthy and go to prep school or are royalty. The main character's full name is Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo. One of her good friends is named John Paul Reynolds-Abernathy VI. That they and others prefer to go by nicknames like Mia and JP show that they really are normal people despite this.
- The protagonist from The NeverEnding Story, Bastian Balthazar Bux.
- Naming conventions seem to be a little different on the Discworld, so it's sometimes hard to tell, but there's a definite pattern to the names of nobles. If their first names are real names at all (which is unusual in itself, considering people can be named things like Moist, Gravid, and Extremelia), then they're obscure and old-fashioned, whereas many commoners have names you wouldn't look twice at on an attendance roll in the real world.
- In an early book, Vimes refers to the upper-class teenage girls who volunteer to muck out at the Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons as "the Interchangeable Emmas".
- In The World of Poo, both the Sanctuary caretakers Geoffrey meets actually are named "Emma".
- In Monstrous Regiment, officers are known in the Borogravian army as "ruperts" because they tend to be Upper Class Twits with "posh" names like Rupert, Rodney, or Gawain. This piece of slang, as well as the explanation, are used in the British Armed Forces.
- Used in The Nanny Diaries whenever No Name Given is impossible. For instance, the narrator's charge is Greyer Addison X.
- Pandora "Box" Louise Elizabeth Braithwaite and her husband Julian Twyselton-Fife of Adrian Mole fame.
- Melville Winchester Higginbotham Grosvenor Penobscot-Jones IV of Emergence. It's not exactly surprising that he renamed himself (becoming "Adam") at the earliest opportunity.
- Richard Woolsley III from Raising the Bar.
- Flynn Carsen of The Librarian fame, though ironically he's not rich.
- Leverage has a lot of fun playing with these when the team runs a con at a private school in "The Fairy Godparents Job". One of the kids' first names is Widmark.
- Of course, considering the show is about white-collar crime, the Villain of the Week will at least occasionally have a preppy name too.
- Barnabas Collins, Cyrus Longworth, Skyler Rumson, and Bruno Hess from Dark Shadows.
- Justified in Jeeves and Wooster (and the books they were based on).
- Chase (his last name; his first name, rarely used, is Robert), from House, M.D.. Some of these names overlap with upper-class-sounding British names; with Chase, it's both. He started as the Upper-Class Twit but had a little character development making him a competent twit, much like Charles Emerson Winchester III from M*A*S*H.
- Speaking of which, Charles Emerson Winchester III from Mash.
- And on that subject, the Power Rangers have included a handful of upper-crusters in their ranks: Wesley Collins, Sydney Drew, Mackenzie Hartford (with his father Andrew Hartford as the team's patron), and Summer Landsdown.
- Greenlee Smythe and Colby Chandler on All My Children. Both first names are their mothers' maiden names, which is a typical preppy naming convention.
- Chatsworth Osbourne, Jr. from The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis.
- Charles Widmore from LOST, who is a rich businessman thanks to the company he owns. Which is, of course, called Widmore Industries. The poshness of the name is somewhat misleading in his case as he was one of the more thuggish of the Others in his youth, and appears to have attained his fortune mostly through the use of his fists.
- Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) in Gilligan's Island.
- Crispin from Skins. Just Crispin. Like Prince, Madonna, Cher, Lemar... only Crispin.
- Also, even though they are referred to exclusively as 'Tony' and 'Effy', there's Anthony and Elizabeth Stonem.
- And Cassandra Ainsworth.
- Frederick 'Freddie' Mc Clair.
- Pandora Moon.
- Minerva 'Mini' Mc Guiness.
- Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Jackie Gleason character "Reginald van Gleason III" (note "the Third" yet again).
- Audrey fforbes-Hamilton from To The Manor Born.
- Addison Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd from Grey's Anatomy.
- Harrison Chase from the Doctor Who episode The Seeds of Doom.
- As explained in the trope description, this is a common occurrence in Hispanic telenovelas. Usually it is the male protagonist who is well off, and this means we wind up with a male lead called Ricardo Facundo (always, always called by both names) while the female lead is called María, Juana, or other ridiculously common names. This tendency has been parodied many, many times, often giving the parody protagonist an Overly Long Preppy Name.
- One famous case of a female Preppy Name is "María Joaquina" from the telenovela Carrusel. She was never called just "María," ever.
- Castilian Spanish conventions are different, and the pijo naming clichés tend to go along Araceli, Soraya, or Cayetana for girls and Gonzalo, Rodrigo, or Borja (Borjamari in terminal cases) for boys.
- More than half the cast of Gossip Girl. Including some of the actual cast members, such as Chace Crawford, Blake Lively, Penn Badgeley, and Leighton Meester. The cast is full of them.
- This last one is funny, since her parents were actually small-time crooks from Texas (her mother was serving time for marijuana smuggling at the time of her birth), but her name would be completely at home in the New York City aristocracy, particularly given that her last name is Dutch (a large proportion of New York's oldest families are Dutch for historical reasons).
- Blaine Anderson from Glee.
- And his older brother Cooper.
- Minor characters Sebastian Smythe and Hunter Clarington, also from Dalton Academy.
- A good chunk of the kids from The Lying Game (Sutton Mercer, Laurel Mercer, Thayer Rybak etc.). The poorer characters have much more down to Earth names (Emma Becker, Ethan Whitehorse, Justin Miller etc.)
- Pretty Little Liars includes Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, and Mona Vanderwal. Also the teacher Ezra Fitz.
- During the 2012 campaign season, Jon Stewart was fond of playing with this when discussing GOP presidential candidate Wilfred Mittington Romney the Third (to give a typical example).
- Dean and Sam Winchester from Supernatural. Despite their preppy names, they're Homeless Heroes living outside society as hunters of evil. However, it is revealed in Season 8 that their grandfather Henry Winchester and his predecessors were part of a secret organization of supernatural scholars called Men of Letters, in which Sam and Dean are legacies.
- Cleyton Howell III from The New Addams Family. His appearance is so brief he probably would never be included here if this website cared about notability.
- Camilla Fortescue Cholmondeley-Browne (Everyone calls her "Chummy") from the BBC's Call the Midwife is a great example, and her character exhibits a typically upper-class jolly hockey sticks attitude towards her role as a district midwife in London's East End, despite the class chasm between her and her patients.
- Jonathan Quayle Higgins III from Magnum, P.I.
- Season 13 of Degrassi adds Miles Hollingsworth III, a New Transfer Student freshly expelled from prep school.
- Blair Warner in The Facts of Life.
- Maria Joaquina Villasenor and Jorge del Salto in Carrusel.
- Caroline Channing in 2 Broke Girls. Caroline is a stereotypically posh name in the UK, if not in the USA. And she's the one from a rich background.
- Hubert Updike III in The Alan Young Show, voiced by Jim Backus.
- Rupert Grint
- The late Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Amusingly, this was the opposite of upper-class when he was born: "Arthur" was still a fairly common name in 1917, and "Schlesinger" would have been seen as too ethnic — and particularly too Jewishnote — to be truly upper-class in that era (during which Jews were not considered white, and Germans were for obvious reasons not well-trusted). Later in life, though, things changed.
- Engelbert Humperdinck (although it is not his birth name).
- Veteran character actor Terry-Thomas.
- Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch.
- Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Deveraux Donahue, aka Poppy Montgomery.
- Her sisters are Rosie Thorn, Daisy Yellow, Lily Belle, and Marigold Sun (and there's a brother, Jethro Tull), although some of those drift into hippy name territory.
- Rosie Huntington-Whitley
- Thomas William Hiddleston
- William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor AKA Prince William.
- And his brother Henry Charles Albert David, more commonly known as Prince Harry.
- Camilla Rosemary Shand, now Duchess of Cornwall. ("Camilla" and "Rosemary" are both classic British upper-crust names; young Miss Shand was a debutante who in fact went to finishing school in Switzerland.)
- Triple-hyphenated English aristocrat Jacobi Richard Penn Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpenote rather nicely takes the cake...
- He is, however, soundly whipped by a fellow aristocratic family, the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, who possessed the quintuple-barrelled surname Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville.
- NFL Quarterback Peyton Williams Manning and his dad Elisha Archibald "Archie" Manning III, his brother Elisha Nelson "Eli" Manning, plus the non-famous brother Cooper Manning. This one is kind of strange, because given their Southern backgrounds (they're from New Orleans and have the accents to prove it), this puts some Americans in an "oh, they're hillbillies" frame of mind, but on one hand, those familiar with the South would recognize this pattern as common for the descendants of the old planter class and those with no idea the Mannings are Southerners would also jump to the "snob" conclusion.
- English comedian Miles Jupp is a great example, with a name that sounds inherently Sloaney, despite its brevity. His stand-up shtick revolves around how posh he is.
- Whimsically named English actress Tuppence Middleton.
- Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes
- Two chief mechanical engineers of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR): Charles John Bowen-Cooke and Captain Hewitt Pearson Montague Beames.
- Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax is, believe it or not, a member of the House of Commons. The 'Family' section on his Wikipedia page is worth a read...
- Editor, literary critic, and occasional sportsman George Plimpton came from the New York upper crust, so naturally he was called "George Ames Plimpton" and sounded like this.
- The Ace Attorney series brings us Richard Wellington and Wesley Stickler.
- Most, if not all, of the preppies in Bully. Derby is probably the most egregious example.
- Slade Percy Benedict III from Wall Street Kid. See this playthrough.
- Lord Montague "Monty" Basingstoke-Pratt IV from Kingdom of Loathing, a hero of the Frat Warriors. He drops an item that increases money gains.
- Florian Phinaes Horatio Aldebrant, Esquire — otherwise known as Finn in Dragon Age: Origins DLC Witch Hunt.
- The Sims 2 has a pre-made sim named Francis J. Worthington III. He's obviously supposed to be a snobby rich kid.
- The third game in the Saints Row series is called Saints Row: The Third, which ties in to the theme of the titular gang "selling out".
- British aristocrat Isabella "Ivy" Valentine from the Soul Series.
- Nicole Whittaker of the Purple Moon games is one of the richest girls in town and puts this air on constantly. She's even on a first-name basis with her parents, Reginald and Cecilia, who themselves fit Preppy Name as well.
- Felicia Ravenswood, a foreign military brat who constantly talks about her trips to Europe, fits here as well.
- Orville Brand, Blair Duchess, Hadley Sharpe, Nelson Stickling, and Tatum West on Honorable Hogwarts.
- The idea behind Reginald Cuftbert's name in Spoiler Warning's Let's Play of Fallout 3. The original suggestion was Reginald Cuthbert, but something was lost in translation.
- SOTF-TV: A good portion of the kids in Silver Dragon Academy have this sort of name. Examples include Mae St. Clair, Leopold Sutherland, Bob Lazenby, and Renée Carlson.
- Remy Buxaplenty from The Fairly OddParents.
- The real name of Cave Guy from Freakazoid!, whose voice is apparently based on Thurston Howell III, is Royce Mumphry.
- The students at Morningwood Academy in Family Guy, including James William Bottomtooth IV and Rogers Chapstick, heir to the Chapstick fortune.
- All of the employees at The New Yorker, as well: Wellesley Shepherdson, Fielding Wellingtonsworth, Livingston Winstofford, Amelia Bedford Furthington Chesterhill, and James William Bottomtooth III.
- Theodore "Tobey" MacCallister III. My, but isn't that a mouthful?
- Trevor Noseworthy IV from James Bond Jr..
- From Total Drama, Cody Emmett Jameson-Anderson.
- Bradley Uppercrust III from An Extremely Goofy Movie
- Eric "Tann" Tannenbaum IV from Kong: The Animated Series.
- Rex Smythe-Higgins III from Hey Arnold!, though he is Ambiguously British.
- Rhonda Wellington Lloyd, the upper-class girl in Arnold's class. Her first name does not fit this trope, but her middle name sure does!
- Charles Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.
- The secret identity of Superchicken, one of the supporting features of ''George of the Jungle, was Henry Cabot Henhouse III.
- Princess Morbucks from The Powerpuff Girls.
- Alpha Bitch Nanette Manoir from Angela Anaconda.
- In the pilot episode of All Grown Up!, Angelica introduces her friend Samantha Shane to Chuckie (who has a crush on her) as "Charles Finster III" (even though Chuckie's paternal grandfather's name is Marvin) to impress her, obviously invoking this trope.
- The foppish character associated with The New Yorker is Eustice Tilley.
- Monocle, spats, and cutaway jacket are the signature attire of rich Uncle Pennybags. Few know him by that name, however. Parker Brothers gave up trying to enlighten the millions and rechristened him (and trademarked) his better-known moniker, Mr. Monopoly.