State your name. Sergei Malatov: [says nothing] McNulty
No name, huh? Well, for now, we'll just call you "Boris". Sergei: [sighs]
"Boris"... Why always "Boris"
When you have to name a non-anglophone character, you've got three choices (if you're a hack author, that is):
That last option is this trope. Many nations have their analogs of "John Smith" - ridiculously common names, whose "commonness" has become near proverbial. Sometimes, these names become symbols or stereotypes, associated in popular consciousness with the respective countries.
Note that names that were once common in one country often fall out of favour with the passage of time while remaining 'stock', sometimes resulting in an author unintentionally giving a young character an anachronistically old-fashioned name.
Some of these names - such as "Mick" or "Guido" - become so closely associated with a particular country that they attain full-on racial epithet status.
Of course, some names that catch on can eventually become 'de-foreignised' as the association with the home country fades. The name 'Kevin' is a great example of this; as recently as a century ago it was almost entirely unknown outside Ireland, yet at this point the man on the street is unlikely to even think of it as an Irish name.
A name should have at least three examples of being used to name a stock foreigner from the respective country (or at least one example that lampshades
its use as a Stock Foreign Name). If you add a name, please add at least one work along with it.
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- Probably The Unpronouncable
- Names with a -tun sound, like Mutumbo or Tunde
- Names with a click sound
- May also be the same as Middle Eastern names, if they're Muslim, and sometimes if they're not.
- An English first name with a distinctly non-English last name, probably due to famous Africans like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
- Names starting with an M or an N, directly followed by another consonant - Mbutu or Nkwichi, for example.
- Africans in the ex-colonies often have rather literal English first names that almost never appear in Britain itself — Goodness, Precious and Thankgod are good examples.
- Kwame, no doubt encouraged by Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
- Abdullah (or Abdul)
- Quest for Glory 1 and 2 have Abdullah Doo, the pudgy merchant from Shapeir. The same game also has a part where if you rob a certain house and are detected, the owner will shout the names of his sons, Kareem, Abdul and Jabbar, respectively.
- 24: In season 6, there were 10 generic Middle Eastern characters. Three of them were Abu, Ahmed and Omar. There were also Omars in Season 2 and 4.
- Parodied in Runescape which features an entire town where every NPC is named Ali.
- In Four Lions, Omar is the only member of the Jihadists who approaches competence.
- Anything with "eeda", "ifa" or "ina" at the end - Zafina, Sharifa, Majeeda etc.
- Nadia (which is really derived from the Russian name Nadeshda!)
- Jasmine is an odd example. It was originally a Persian name before spreading across the rest of the Middle-East, but is now also very popular in Europe, North and South America.
- Shakira is an Arabic name, most common in Egypt and Lebanon, meaning 'thankful'. Interestingly, the name's popularity in America/UK/Aus for baby girls dramatically increased for three two-month periods in 1997, 2005, and 2010.
- Shakira, who is of Arab descent, but has the Spanish middle name Isabel.
- Aussies will nearly always use abbreviations and diminutives for first names — Steve-o, Bretty, Jakey, Shaz/Shazza etc.
- As (in-)famously made fun of by Monty Python in their Bruces sketch
- Ned (as in Kelly)
- Lampshaded by the Australians themselves
- Jan / Janelle
- Works better for older Australian women, the name is now out of style
- Captain James Cook was an Englishman who proposed the idea of making Australia a British colony.
- Any name ending in the standard Slavic -ić, which is a possessive roughly meaning "descendant/member of," often equated with the English "-son." Mostly combined with a name and/or profession, such as:
- Agić, Aga(a generic Ottoman term for lord or master)+ić
- Imamović, Imam(muslim priest)+ić
- Sometimes this is bought to (even more) tongue twisting levels, for example: Hadzihafizbegovič, which can verbosely be translated as "Descendant of the Muslim governor who memorized the Kur'an and did the pilgrimage to Mecca." Hilarious if you have an atheist friend with that name.
- Surnames that don't fall under the above rule are usually just professions or titles without the possessive:
- Kovač, Kovač=Smith. Probably the most generic Slavic surname there is.
- Pukar, Gunsmith.
- Even rarer are names that don't have anything to do with professions, titles, given names or possessives. Also they tend to be somewhat bizzare:
- Uzbrdica, up-hill.
- Leading to the hilarious and veritably real name "Nagib Uzbrdica" = "Steep Uphill."
- Guzina, Big-ass.
- Burina, Big Storm.
- Mei-ling (or Meiling)
- Basically any name that is pronounceable and sounds feminine and pretty to a Western ear.
- "A Chang is hearty to the core. We always come out healthy, that's why there's like a billion of us. You ever tried Googling me? Can't be done." - Ben Chang, Community
- Funny enough trying to Google him and you will get a confused search of Ben Chang the character with Ben Chang the American diplomat.
- Lee (or Li)
- Wong (Particularly common in Anime when a character is from Hong Kong)
Anything that sounds vaguely Spanish and
Middle-Eastern is fair game. There is one caveat, though; there are lots
of names. This is because of the tradition of at least
one middle name, then taking your father's, mother's and
grandparent's surnames for some purposes, of which each relative has both their father's first surname and
their mother's first surname.
- Anything double-barreled beginning with Juan, e.g. Juan Carlos, Juan Camilo, Juan Manuel, Juan Antonio, Juan Diego, Juan Pablo.
- Translations of English names
- Santiago, Milan and other non-Colombian Spanish cities.
- Religious names, as they're all Catholic
- Moises/ Moses
- The feminine form of the masculine names
- Some inexplicable Russian names
- Anything with Maria or Ana as the first part of a double-barreled name, e.g. Maria Fernanda, Ana Maria, Ana Sofia, Maria Silvia, Maria Paula, Maria Carolina.
- Santo/a -something- (Saint -something-)
- Many popular surnames are from immigrants to Atlántico (Barranquilla etc.), many originate from the Middle East or are gypsy but have become widely accepted as Latino
- Aristizabal - unknown immigrant origin
- Ripoll - Catalan, not Arabic, but popular because of all the Spanish immigrants.
- Mebarak/ Mubarak
- Becerra and Bacca
- Mendes - made more stereotypical as Mendez
- Carbonell, Carbo and Caballero
- Arroyo/ Arrollo
- Anything with an elyeh (ll), doble erre (rr), or that ends with 'ez'.
- For women it is not uncommon to affix her husband's first surname to the end of her own simply with 'de' in front e.g. Rubio Herrera de Días.
- Troels: A distinctly Danish form of "Thor".
- Women from the Danish colonies (Greenland and the former Danish West Indies, now the U.S. Virgin Islands) will often have slightly old-fashioned, regal-sounding names like Juliane, Caroline, and Charlotte Amalie. In the case of the Virgin Islands, it's because ships often had the names of Danish queens or princesses, and slaves were frequently named after the ship they arrived in. As for Greenland, it's simply because Inuit women arriving in Denmark were likely to adopt the names of famous Danish women.
- Former prime ministers Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Poul Nyrup Rasmusen.
- Anything ending in -sen.
- Willem (or Wim)
- Johan (or Jan)
- Many are highly distinct and do not have direct counterparts in other European countries
- Doutzen - model Doutzen Kroes
- van Something
- De Something (De Vries, De Jong etc.)
- And for the hat trick, van de something.
- Edmund (Blackadder and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
- Nigel: Very often used for English males appearing in American works.
- Oliver: Truth in Television, it's among the most popular names for English males.
- For super-sloaney (incredibly posh) English male names, try Crispin, Cuthbert, Rafferty, Rollo, Sefton, Sheridan, Tarquin or Torquil.
- Anything with "kins" (literally "family") at the end - Atkins, Jenkins etc.
- More stereotypically Welsh than English.
- Kensington (stereotypically posh)
- Jackson, Johnson
- One of the most common names in England.
- Cholmondeley ('Chum-ly')
- Two surnames hyphenated, or just two surnames, (double-barreled)note , which is stereotypically upper-class, as are certain spelling idiosyncrasies, e.g. Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in To The Manor Born.note
- Marjory Stewart-Baxter and Barbara Logan-Price from Salad Fingers.
- Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
- Wesley Wyndham-Price
- Jacobi Richard Penn Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe provides a rather lovely real life example of a triple-barelled English surname.
- TV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, just beating out Heston Blumenthal to have the most pretentious name in the business.
- Many come from people incorporating annoying middle names into their surname. These middle names did sound like surnames, though, as they were often the person's mother's maiden name. (Jessica Brown Findlay's grandfather's middle name was Brown, his mother's maiden name.) Thus, many Brits have both parents' surname, whether through this method or by being given both at birth, similar to in Spanish naming conventions but with the mother's name usually being put first.
- Ramsbottom / Postlethwaite / Braithwaite/ Higginbottom
- Hyphenated first names are common to both sexes - Jean-Luc, Marie-Louise etc
- Axis Powers Hetalia: France's "human name" is Francis.
- Anything with "ette" or "elle" at the end - Collette, Suzette, Rochelle etc.
- Didi (French-Canadian)
- de Something or du Something, generally
- Laura Vanamo, the Finnish singer who covered a Japanese song in Finnish.
- Anything with "nen" at the end - Kääriäinen, Häkkinen etc. Eight of the 10 most common Finnish surnames end this way.
- Also the name of a city in Finland.
Note that almost all of the following names are considered quite old-fashioned by Germans these days. Look no further.
- Oh, just guess.
- Also Adolf Tegtmeyer, the Ruhr Valley persona created by German comedian Jürgen von Manger since 1961.
- The name actually already became less and less popular in German-speaking countries around 1900 (i. e. not long after Hitler was born). It then was given to more boy children during Nazi rule and fell completely out of favour after 1945.
- Fritz (or Friedrich)
- Hans/Hansel (or Johann)
- Look through Grimm's Fairy Tales. If the hero of the story has a first name, it's probably Hans.
- Keeping with the European tradition of the Iohannes-derived names John(Jack)/Johann(Hans)/Jean/Ivan/etc as a common and/or stock name for characters or everymen.
- Hans Gruber, the criminal mastermind in Die Hard
- Johann Krauss.
- Johan Liebert
- A background villain in The Punisher named Hermann the German.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: Germany's human name is Ludwig (with no last name given).
- Hildegard (Hilde)
- Call Me Madam uses Wilhelmina to rhyme with "ocarina."
- Also occurs in variants such as Mueller, Moller, and Miller.
- Miller as an Anglicization of Müller is sometimes a plot point.
- Also Schulz, Schultze, Schulte, Schulze.
- Hogan's Heroes (television): John Banner played Sergeant Schultz.
- Müller und Schmidt are the two most common names in Germany, with Schultz "only" being the ninth most common.
- von Something
- In German there was an explosion of double-barrelled names thanks due to the feminist movement of the 1970s, partly because German-speaking countries generally do not have American-type "middle names" (e. g. turning a woman's maiden name into a middle name on marriage), partly because until quite recently it was generally not allowed for a husband and wife to have completely different surnames (so either one partner had to take the other's surname or combine it double-barrel fashion with their original one). A classic example is federal minister of justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.
- Nick, Nick, Nick and....Nick
- Spiros (or Spiro)
- Athina (note the spelling)
- Toula, Tula
- Anything ending in -poulos
- As in, Tula Paulina and Costadinos (better known as Tulisa and Dappy of N-Dubz)
Family names (note that in Hungarian these are properly first names)
- Bhavna, Bhavini
- Mick (or Micky)
- Patrick (or Paddy)
- Often The Unpronounceable to unfamiliar audiences:
- Bridget/Brigid, up until recently though the success of the (British) Bridget Jones books have probably weakened the association with Ireland.
- All the "een" names — Colleen (lit. "girl"), Aideen, Kathleen (as in Kathleen ni Houlihan, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Ireland)
- Eithne (pronounced "Enya"; Irish spelling is at least opaque as French)
- The birth name of Irish singer Enya.
- Murphy (or O'Murphy, though this version is far rarer in reality.)
- Kelly (O'Kelly exists as well)
- O'Brien (or O'Brian, which likewise is a fairly rare variation in real life.)
- O'Anything, really. Even O'NotARealIrishName.
- Characters from Northern Ireland are more likely to have the Mc names.
- Antonio (or Toni)
- Guido Anselmi in 8½, and Guido Contini in the adaptation 9.
- Guido Orefice in Life Is Beautiful.
- Guido in Cars, who only speaks Italian.
- Guido di Maggio in Max Shulman's novel Rally Round the Flag, Boys!.
- Carmela (mostly southern Italian)
- Anything ending in "etti" or "elli" (both a diminutive suffix) — Moretti, Firelli etc
- de Luca / de Campo / de Felice etc. Also "di" something.
- Ryu (see that page for more examples)
- Toshi (or Toshiro)
- Kage, for ninjas.
- Combine this with the surname Yamada, and you have the Japanese equivalent of John Smith.
- Sakura (see that page for examples with the common associations with the name)
- Possibly lampshaded in Live A Live, where every chapter has a character with that name.
- Kim Il-sung or Kim Jong-il
- Pak (or Park)
- In fact 45% of all Koreans are named either Kim, Lee, or Park.
- Olaf from Blackhawk, though he was actually Swedish in the original series, then Danish after the continuity reboot. Py yimminy, that's close, though, isn't it?
- As in Sven-Göran Eriksson, not Sony Ericsson, the Swedish being spelt with a 'k'.
- A common error among anglophones is to spell -son surnames with one "s" (e.g. Anderson), whereas Scandinavians spell them with a doubled "s" (Andersson). The first "s" is a genitive marker, the second the first letter of the word "son". And names that end with an "s" do not take an extra genitive "s", because triple consonants aren't used. Most people of Scandinavian descent in the United States anglicize their surnames by spelling them with one "s", so the error is forgivable.
- This is only true for Swedish names. Danish and Norwegian names typically end in -sen, without the extra s. Many Danish/Norwegian-American surnames exchange the e for an o, for example the family band The Hansons (Danish-American)
- Skarsgård and anything else with that funny Ikea circle above a vowel. It's not pronounced 'scars-guard' as many believe thanks to [[Stellan, Alexander Johan Hjalmar and the rest of the family, but 'shkare-shkur'.
- Popularized by the novel Heidi.
- Kasia, a diminutive of Katarzyna
- Kowalski (according to The Other Wiki, currently the second most common Polish surname and formerly the most common)
- -ski in general.
- Just to make it clear: not every Polish name ends in -ski/-cki. "Nowak" is an excessively common example. They aren't recognized enough to be used as a stock name, though.
- Alexander (pronounced Aleksandr), as well as its diminutive, Sasha/Sacha
- Alexey is a commonly-known related name.
- These two names come from Greek: Alexandros ("Protector of men") and Alexios (simply "Protector").
- Boris, thanks to Boris Yeltsin and Boris Badenov.
- The quote on this page lampshades this.
- Boris Badenov, the villainous spy from the nation of Pottsylvania, which is surely an Expy for the USSR.
- Parodied in Final Crisis Aftermath: RUN, when the Human Flame mockingly calls a Kyrgyzstani mafioso "Boris" before killing him, but finds out upon stealing the mafioso's wallet that "Oh, your name actually is Boris."
- Ivan was a stereotypical name for Russians for such a long time, it's used as such even by Real Life Russians. This probably has something to do with 90% of Russian folk heroes being named Ivan (Ivan the Tsar's son, Ivan the peasant's son, Ivan the cow's son, etc.), not to mention five tsars.
- Played with in Kukushka. Veikko inadvertently guesses Ivan's name correctly while asking for it, misinterprets the answer ("Get lost!") as his actual name, and, when finally corrected, replies along the lines of "You're all called Ivan."
- Conn, Sonar! Crazy Ivan!
- And of course, this is the human name for Russia in Hetalia.
- Vladimir (often shortened to Vlad, though Russians actualy use Vlad as a short for Vladislav, and Volodya or Vova for Vladimir)
- Aleksandra, along with its diminutive, Sasha/Sacha
- A name of Ukrainian origin.
- Another brand of vodka.
- The principal characters of Anton Chekhov's play "The Bear" are named Smirnov and Popova.
- According to 2006 research by Balanovskaya, Smirnov is indeed the most common Russian surname. Ivanov is the second common, Popov is the 4th.
- Romanov - a royal family name, still widespread in Russia.
- Any name ending in -vich or -ov (see Russian Naming Convention).
- Note, that -vich is actually the ending of (masculine) patronymics, not last names.
- Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy and other surnames of famous Russian writers.
- Sounds weird, especially in case of Gogol, who had a rare Ukrainian surname.
- James, often shortened to Jim/Jimmy
- Margaret (or Meg)
(need help to distinguish them!)
Also see Colombian and Puerto Rican above.
- José (or Pepe)
- José Carioca, whose Brazilian comic book series is swimming with characters named José, mostly his relatives.
- Let's not forget its Brazilian diminutive, Zé.
- Manuel (or Manny)
- If you pair it with Juan you get the equivalent of John Smith
- Abdul (In World War I, ANZAC troops used this as slang for a Turkish soldier)
- Bob (Bobby)
- Dan (Danny)
- Britney (particularly this spelling of it)
- Jennifer - Always a (hot) girlfriend
- Marcia/Marsha - much rarer in the rest of the Anglosphere
- '80s Teen Idol Tiffany Darwish (usually known by just her first name)
- Chris (short for Christine or Christina). The Stock Name for American girls, or any Western girl, in Japan and, by way of cultural osmosis, Korea, China, and Taiwan.
- Ironically, within the US itself it's seen as a unisex Tomboyish Name, as it's also short for Christopher.
- Buchanan (popular family name in sitcoms/soaps)
See also: Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names
- Leroy (or Leeroy)
- Rayshawn, DeShawn
- Tyrone (or Ty).
- Aisha, Monique and Neice (and combination with just about any word)
- Alexus (or Mercedes)
- Ebony, Raven and other color-signifying names
- Shanice (as well as Shaniqua, Shanay, Shanaynay, and anything with the prefix sha-)
- Anything ending in -isha (Keisha, Kenisha, Tanesha, etc.)
- Mae (older black women)
- Phyllis or Phillis, in period works.
- Tangerine (or Tangie)
- Pookie (usually used to describe a stereotypical family member, for example "Call your ghetto cousin Pookie to beat her up")
- Ray-Ray (similar to Pookie in usage)
- Normal names with creative spellings or pronunciations, for example the Urban Legend about Le-a pronounced "Le-dash-a".
- The color names, Black/White/Brown/Grey/Green, mostly the first three.
- The below-mentioned Weird Al Yankovic quote.
- Played straight in "Weird Al" Yankovic's Amish Paradise:
At 4:30 in the morning I'm milkin' cows
Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows... fool
And I've been milkin' and plowin' so long that
Even Ezekiel thinks that my mind is gone!
- Used by Amish in the Tim Allen comedy For Richer Or Poorer, "The Outsiders" episode of MacGyver, "Murder, Plain and Simple" episode of Murder, She Wrote, A Murder in Fulham County, a theater production "Jacob's Choice" and Harvest of Fire. In the musical Plain and Fancy, Jacob Yoder is not a unique name.
- Used by Amish in Witness, For Richer or Poorer, and Harvest of Fire. Also one of the top five Amish masculine names according to John A. Hostetler (the others are John, Amos, Daniel and David).
- Used by Amish in Aaron's Way, Jodi Picoult's "Plain Truth", "Murder, Plain and Simple" episode of Murder, She Wrote, A Stoning in Fulham County, and Harvest of Fire.
- Mary, Katie and Annie round out the top five Amish feminine names according to John A. Hostetler.
- Used by Amish in Witness, For Richer or Poorer, "Murder, Plain and Simple" episode of Murder, She Wrote, Harvest of Fire and The Shunning. Also one of the top five Amish surnames according to John A. Hostetler (the four others are Stoltzfus, King, Fisher and Beiler).
- Used by Amish in For Richer or Poorer and the musical Plain and Fancy.
- Plain and Fancy: "Also families like Yoder, only more. We got twenty-four families Zook."
U.S. Latter-Day Saints
- Alma, not to be confused with the feminine name in Spanish
- The Osmonds, a family of musicians who enjoyed mainstream success in The Seventies.
- Any "stuffy" British-derived names - often named after UK locations, eg Wentworth Miller
- Chip (mostly in parodies)
- Traditionally male names such as Spencer or Dylan
- Brittany (not "Britney")
- Brenda (strangely enough, given that in the UK, where it originates, this is seen as a frumpy, rather common old lady name) Popularized in the US by Brenda Walsh of 90210 fame.
- Bunny (older up-scale women)
- Heather, which firmly cemented its place after Heathers debuted.
- Any British-heritage derived last name, especially those ending in -ton(for example Buffington, Lexington etc)
- Dutch surnames also tend to denote high social class in the US - Van de Kamp, for example.
- In a German name, "von" really is an aristocratic prefix; the similar sounding "van" in Dutch names is common as dirt.
- This is likely due to the real life families such as the Vanderbilts, of Dutch origin.
- Roman numerals at the end: John Buffington, III
- William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates. Note that Gates was from the wealthy family right from the start.
- Bonus points if their middle name is their mother's maiden name.
U.S. Southern States
- Billy-Bob, Billy-Joe, Joe-Bob and other dual names
- Carmageddon had a racer called Billy Joe Jim Bob who was a stereotypical hillbilly.
- The Dreadheads from G.I. Joe all have codenames along these lines, even though their actual names are upper-class old money affairs; Joe-Bob, for example, is really named Winston.
- A verb with an er at the end- (Tucker, Parker, Hunter, Carter, Cooper). Justifiable in that they might have been the mother's maiden name.
- Jenny (at least in Texas)
- Mary-Lou, Peggy-Sue and other dual names (see above)
- Irish-sounding names too - Lurleen, Rayleen, Darleen etc
- Thanh, Sơn, Tuấn, Minh, Dũng...
- Thảo, Ngọc, Mỹ, Trâm, Thư...
- An, Thi, Dương, Giang, Huỳnh...
- They're technically first names, as Vietnamese follow the common Asian tradition of putting the family name first.
- Nguyễn (most widespread)
- Trần (second)
- Note that in Vietnam it's customary to address a stranger by his or her given name, not a family name. Võ Nguyên Giáp (or Ziap, for those unfamiliar with Vietnamese spelling), a famous North Vietnam general (the guy died in October 2013, BTW), is thus correctly addressed as "General Ziap", not "General Võ".
- Most Vietnamese names have secondary meaning just as Japanese names and Chinese names do (Trung: Loyal, Vân: Cloud...).
- Dafydd/Dewi (David)
- Gwen (and various derivatives thereof)
- Haf (more commonly used as a middle name)
- Lampshaded in The Very World of Milton Jones: In the midst of (Welsh) choir practice, the teacher bellows, "JONES!" to which everyone answers, "Which one?". Milton tries asking, "Which one?" again in Fiji later, but it doesn't work 'cos there's only him.
- If you listen carefully to the roll call in Zulu, you can hear several calls of "Jones [service number]". This was common practice in Welsh regiments due to the sheer number of Joneses.
- Alec, Aled, and Alex Jones are all Welsh presenters in Britain - and often presenting the same things, most commonly The One Show.