"You don't need to think that much about these names from the Middle Ages... you know, like Charles the Bald, Pepin the Short... it's not like, you know, John the Ambiguous. What does
—R. Wayne Maney
, historian, on medieval
It's a staple of Medieval Fantasy that whenever a hero does something noteworthy, they get a "surname" (more properly termed an epithet
) out of it, like say Sir Tropesalot
, Dragon Slayer. Occasionally, it even sticks as a surname and informs the history of an entire heroic legacy. Eventually, the mere act of saying their full name
constitutes a Badass Boast
in and of itself — or Famed In-Story
when others recite it. Obviously, prone to Meaningful Name
Then there are kings who simply append titles and qualifiers to their names to add importance to themselves without actually doing anything. Generally it's someone with Small Name, Big Ego
, probably a Smug Snake
, who insists you
address him as Major Doctor
Oh, and if such a king is evil
, you can expect him to be called Evil Troperlord The Butcher
Historically, those names have been given by others and are often mundane things like "the fat" or "the ugly" or "the sot". People named "Smith", or "Fletcher", etc. probably had an ancestor in said profession.
Supertrope of They Call Him Sword
If the character's entire name is changed, by himself or someone else, see Meaningful Rename
At least they have the excuse of resulting from something the character did; contrast Awesome McCoolname
. See also Overly Long Name
, Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!
Compare The Adjectival Superhero
, where the epithet comes first; and Spell My Name with a "The"
, where the character's epithet is their entire name.
Contrast Just the First Citizen
, where the Big Bad
chooses a deliberately understated title.
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Anime & Manga
- Chrono Crusade: Rosette's response to Azmaria when she questions if Chrono's true form is really him is to give a list of titles. "Chrono the Sinner. The Broken Horn. The Ignoble One. He has many names." However, they are rarely used after this scene (except for "Sinner", which is a major plot point).
- Many, many characters from Giant Robo have these kind of titles including, appropriately enough, one called "Fitzgerald the Magnificent."
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, each of the homunculi have titles attached to their names.
- Lust the Lascivious
- Wrath the Furious
- Gluttony the Voracious
- Envy the Jealous
- Greed the Avaricious
- Sloth the Indolent
- Pride the Arrogant
- Narumi of Kami-sama no Memo-chou keeps gathering different titles he's known by, such as the Gardening Club Kid, Vice-Admiral Fujishima, God Hand...
- Thorkell the Tall and Thorfinn Karlsefni (Karlsefni means "man of (great) ability") from Vinland Saga.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Evangeline A.K. McDowell the Girl-Queen of Darkness, the Apostle of Destruction, the Tidings of Evil, the Maga Nosferatu, the Disciple of Dark Tones, the Visitation of Woe, the Queen of the Night, the Doll-master, the Dark Evangel... notable that none of these names were epithets that she applied to herself but rather gained through infamy.
- There's also 'The Thousand Blades'* Jack Rakan, and unlike the rest, whose nickname fits nicely with 'The Thousand Master' Nagi. 'Death Glasses' Takahata also counts. But Negi takes the cake with his 'Lightning God' title.
- Soul Eater gives us Death the Kid. It means that he's Death's son.
- Many characters in Trigun:
- Vash the Stampede gets points for not having a surname to obscure. His real name is just Vash. He seems to have adopted 'the Stampede,' though, since when Millie uses it at an inopportune time he cries out, "I hate it when you call me by my full name!"
- Especially the Gung-Ho Guns, who seem to have it in their contracts. Notably, Wolfwood seems to have inherited the entire title Chapel the Evergreen, not just the epithet, by shooting Master Chapel in the back to take over his slot in the Guns. Even though Chapel seems to have been the old guy's real name.
- Manga Wolfwood is also known as Nicholas the Punisher. Explaining somewhat why he goes by his surname.
- Meryl and Millie's noms de guerre are nouns (their primary weapons) appended to the fronts of their names as adjectives, probably to show that they're a few classes below the powerhouses doing all the serious slugging.
- Slayers: There is a tradition where powerful mages are bestowed with 'The Color' as their title, such as "Rezo the Red Priest". Lina has 'The Pink' which embarrases her as much as her other titles.
- Claymore has a lot of fun with this. Many of the titular warriors have such titles attributed to them. Teresa of the Faint Smile, Quick-Sword Elena, Phantom Miria, the list goes on.
- Every single freaking Flame Haze and their contracted Crimson Lords AND the Crimson Denizens in Shakugan no Shana.
- In Berserk, Guts is sometimes known as "The Hundred-Man Slayer" (occasionally translated as "The Century Killer" or some other similarly poetic equivalent) after he single-handedly kills one hundred enemy soldiers.
- The Beano has many: Dennis the Menace, Roger the Dodger, Minnie the Minx, etc.
- Robin, the Boy Wonder.
- The Mickey Mouse Comic Universe has Doublejoke, who refers to himself as "The Magnificent Doublejoke". In his first appearance he did seem to deserve the nickname by arresting many of the most dangerous criminals in Mouseton with embarrassing ease and pranks... Then it was revealed they were his accomplices for an enormous heist.
- The Mighty Thor: All of The Warriors Three; Fandral the Dashing, Hogun the Grim, and Volstagg the, uh, Voluminous.
- Not to mention Asgard's first and greatest hero, Sigurd The Ever-Glorious. However, Sigurd's a bit of an ass, and a caption suggests a more accurate title of Sigurd The Sometimes-Glorious.
- My Little Avengers: The Big Bad, Loki, refers to himself as "Loki The Magnificent" several times during the story. Though he probably gave himself the title as an act of arrogance, he ends up living up to it (unfortunately for the heroes).
- In With Strings Attached, Baravadans have personal names and descriptive names ("given names") rather than surnames. These names can be invented by a person or hung on them. Examples:
- Lyndess Groundburner, except in Ta'akan everyone now derisively calls her Lyndess the Example.
- Grunnel the Thinker (later renamed by John as “Grunnel the Wanker”).
- Brox Funny (later renamed “Brox Bugger-All.”)
- As'taris Farbound (later renamed “Ass the Ass”)
- In addition, Brox jokingly renames the four after their magic ("John Kansael-carrier," etc.), lampshading the fact that she knows all about them. They aren't amused.
- In The Wizard in the Shadows Emrys is given the title, Sir Emrys the Valiant. And boy does he live up to it.
- In The Immortal Game, Twilight eventually takes up the title of "The Godslayer" in order to serve as both a symbol of hope for the Loyalists, and of fear for the Royals. And by the end of the story, she lives up to it by killing Titan (though she's a god herself too by that point, so does it count?)
- Queen Of Shadows: All the past Yojimbos listed in the Histories of Eternal Shadow are given titles of some kind after their deaths.
- Kamisori is called "The Swift", and is implied to be a Lightning Bruiser.
- Kyouaku is known as "The Pirate King" and "The Butcher (or alternately, The Devil) of the Japanese Seas". And he prefers the latter.
- A Brief History of Equestria: Mimic, The Great and Powerful, Clover the Clever's student. And unlike a certain other pony with the title, she definitely deserves it, being the one to stop Talonhoof the Reviled where entire armies had failed.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the protocol droidette who refers to Jabba this way so often she starts running out of good adjectives! It goes from "Jabba The Wise" to "Jabba, the Omnipotent". (Like dragons in other works, this is something of a hazard of dealing with Hutts—you can't repeat the same honorific.)
- The Wizard of Oz: Oz, The Great and Terrible
"I am Dorothy ... the small, and meek."
- Subverted in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
: Knights! Forward!
What manner of man are you that can summon up fire without flint or tinder? Tim
: I... am an enchanter. Arthur
: By what name are you known? Tim
: There are some who call me... Tim?
- Parodied in another scene:
"The wise Sir Bedevere was the first to join King Arthur's knights, but other illustrious names were soon to follow: Sir Launcelot the Brave, Sir Galahad the Pure, and Sir Robin the Not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Launcelot...".
- And then there's the aptly named Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.
- The enchanter actually had a long, impressive name, but John Cleese forgot it, so they threw it in.
- Krull: "I am Ergo the magnificent. Short in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose and wide of vision... My name is no jest, beanpole. Its all very well to have a short name when you're twenty feet tall, but small people need large names to give them weight." Rell answers, "Your actions give you weight, my friend."
- The Incredible Nightcrawler. He hasn't particularly let it go to his head, possibly because he gained the title as a circus acrobat, but he'll still drop it in occasionally.
- Nicely played with in the movie version of Prince Caspian.
Peter: High King Peter, The Magnificent.
Susan: You probably could have left off the last bit.
Trumpkin: [chuckling] Probably.
- Played with by Yogurt in Spaceballs
Lone Starr: Yogurt! Who hasn't heard of Yogurt?
Princess Vespa: Yogurt the Wise!
Dot Matrix: Yogurt the All-Powerful!
Barf: Yogurt the Magnificent!
Yogurt: Please, please, don't make a fuss. I'm just plain Yogurt.
- Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: "His royal highness, Christopher Rupert, Windmehr Vladimir, Carl Alexander, Francois Reginald, Lancelot Herman... Gregory James"
- In C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Pevensies each get a title during their reign as kings and queens: "Peter The Magnificent", "Susan the Gentle", "Edmund the Just", and "Lucy the Valiant."
- Before becoming king, Peter was earlier given the title "Sir Peter Wolfsbane", in honour of his successful battle against one of the White Witch's wolves.
- His full title is actually "Peter the Magnificent, High King of Narnia, Emperor of the Lone Islands, Lord of Cair Paravel, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion, Sir Peter Wolf's-Bane"
- In the film, their royal epithets were bestowed by Aslan at their coronation which, while not illogical — he knows quite a bit about the Pevensies — cheapens them, rather. However, since the film pretty much skips over their entire reign, it was the only way to include the epithets at all.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire many of the characters (especially knights) have nicknames and suffixes to their actual names e.g. Barristan the Bold or Duncan the Tall. Other characters' nicknames take the place of their name, such as the Imp, the Kingslayer, the Mountain That Rides, and so forth.
- In some cases, like with Barristan the Bold, the epithet is always tacked on to avoid confusion, due to the series' utter lack of a One Steve Limit—and the fact that, like a lot of medieval Europe, the peasantry tend not to have family names. Knights need the epithets if they have no last names, being knights in the first generation only. Ser Duncan is "the Tall" and ser Shadrich is "the Mad Mouse" because there is no other way to tell them from the other Duncans and Shadriches.
- And, of course, irony and humor are not exempt. Consider Giant (the smallest man in the Night's Watch), Small Paul (the largest), or Lothor Apple-Eater (who in one battle killed and/or captured a large number of men belonging to a noble house that used an apple as its sigil, including a handful of minor nobles).
- One knight proudly takes the title of Giantslayer, when in fact he killed the giant by lancing him In the Back as he was running away. A sellsword gets dubbed 'Caggo the Corpsekiller' after cutting down a king who turned out to be tied to his horse in an El Cid Ploy. Samwell Tarly is embarrassed when he's dubbed 'Sam the Slayer' after killing an Other, because he views himself as a Dirty Coward and assumes his friends are mocking him.
- Spoofed in a Running Gag where Ser Barristan keeps calling a foreign king "Your Grace", only to be told each time that the king should be addressed as "Your Magnificence" or "Your Radiance".
- And then there's Dany. As an exiled claimant of the Westerosi throne (the only heir left to the previous dynasty) she habitually styles herself with the titles associated with that position, which, on their own, almost qualify anybody using them for this trope. It's take up to eleven with the way she collects extra titles on her Odyssey, by the end of the fifth novel she could possibly be introduced with something along the lines of "Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Princess of Dragonstone, Khalessi of the Dothraki Sea, Queen of Meereen", occasionally jokingly shortened by fans to "Dany, Titles, Titles"
- The Wildlings give us Tormund Giantsbane, Tall-talker, Horn-blower and Breaker of Ice; Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, the Mead-King of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts.
- The Targaryen kings get a lot of these, since it's easier to remember which Aegon you're talking about when you refer to "Aegon the Conqueror," "Aegon the Unworthy," and "Aegon the Unlikely" as opposed to "Aegon I," "Aegon IV," and "Aegon V". Other notables include Daeron the Young Dragon, Maegor the Cruel, Jaehaerys the Conciliator, Daeron the Good and Baelor the Blessed. One non-king Targaryen to get this treatment is Prince Aemon the Dragonknight.
- The ruling Starks— first Kings in the North and later Lords of Winterfell and Lords Paramount of the North— also get this a lot, especially those with traditional names like Brandon. There are Brandon the Builder, Brandon the Shipwright, Brandon the Burner, Brandon the Ice-Eyes, and Brandon the Bad, among others. Robb Stark, the first King in the North in centuries, gets called "the Young Wolf" a lot.
- The chieftain or leader (it's unclear what exactly he is, just that he's not a king) of the giants in Mance Rayder's army is called Mag the Mighty.
- "Jake the Yeerk-Killer" from Animorphs as well as Big Jake, Fearless Leader, Jake the Mighty, Prince Jake, Jake the Ellimist's Tool, and (in the alternate timeline from Megamorphs #3) Supreme Leader.
- And, of course, Marco's always calling Rachel "Xena: Warrior Princess".
- Esplin 9466 is called the Abomination.
- Elfangor is called The Beast.
- After the war, Ax becomes Aximili "of Earth".
- This is the way how Conan the Barbarian volumes get their titles, and yes, there is one novel (although not from Robert E. Howard original works) titled Conan The Magnificent, you also got Conan the Triumphant, Conan the Conqueror, Conan The Liberator, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Formidable, Conan the Champion...
- And we have to recognize he is worth all of them.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth books, many characters have descriptive epithets, appended by themselves or others.
- In The Lord of the Rings:
- Merry was granted the title Meriadoc the Magnificent when he served as Master of Buckland.
- "For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"
- Sauron is referred to as "The Great" by his followers.
- Frodo (of) the Nine Fingers and Samwise the Stout-hearted (which decays to 'brave' in the films).
- Many characters get called "Name, the Adjective" in The Silmarillion. Some of these titles are cool (Fingon the Valiant, Finrod the Faithful, Eärendil the Bright, Húrin the Steadfast, Maedhros/Galdor/Elendil the Tall), others... less so (Uldor the Accursed, Brandir the Lame...)note
- Then there is Túrin Turambar ("Master of doom") from The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. The guy gave himself a heap of titles and pseudonyms, most of them much less pleasant (The Bloodstained, The Wronged...).
- The Hobbit also had Smaug call himself "Smaug the Magnificent" and "Smaug the Golden".
- The ancient Kings of Gondor also took suitably cool-sounding epiphets for themselves, usually in Elvish. There are kings like Romendacil ("Conqueror of the East"), Falastur ("Lord of the Sea"), and Alcarin ("The Glorious One"). The last one being somewhat ironic, as he spent so much of his reign glorifying himself that afterwards Gondor began to go downhill...
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, their foe is Iskavan the Hated. When his superior refuses to help, explaining that he was The Bait and intended to die, he jeers at Iskavan for thinking his paltry victories have made him Hated. Iskavan sets out on a rampage, deciding to start with women and wounded.
- And then there's Arkio the Blessed. And Mephiston the Lord of Death. Apparently Rafen was "Rafen the Ready" when a new Blood Angel, but it appears in the novel as proof that Sachiel is contemptuous.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars, Issus is plentiful endowed with titles.
By my first ancestor, but never was there so grotesque a figure in all the universe. That they should call such a one Goddess of Life Eternal, Goddess of Death, Mother of the Nearer Moon, and fifty other equally impossible titles, is quite beyond me.
- Dian the Beautiful in the same author's Pellucidar series.
- In Terry Pratchett's Jingo, "71-Hour Ahmed" got his name by violating the laws of Sacred Hospitality, which require a full three days.
- In the Inheritance Cycle, the protagonist Eragon receives the name "Shadeslayer" after killing a Shade.
- In Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air, King Steam arrives at court and interrupts courtiers reeling off his titles on the grounds that what is needed now is not hearing what new titles they invented to flatter him.
- In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, kings receive such a title posthumously. Early in the book, characters who had thought he would be King Boniface the Shrewd consider that maybe he'll turn out King Boniface the Jolly. At the end, we have a play: "The Tragical Death of King Boniface the Good."
- Mad Larkin in Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels.
- Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Linden Avery the Chosen.
- Alaric the Betrayed in Ben Counter's novel Hammer of Daemons.
- In Crown of Slaves, after Berry Zilwicki is drafted into becoming Queen of Torch, one of her advisers tells her that there have been lots of monarchs who became known as "the Great" or "the Magnificent" and other such things, but that the best of them came to be known by the rarest of sobriquets: "the Good."
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, one of Prospero's sons got the name "Demonslayer."
- Several heroes in the Redwall series have names like this. Some examples are Martin the Warrior and Urthstripe the Strong.
- In Men, all eleven people remaining on earth have a self-chosen epithet, except Aristos the King, whose name was given to him by his most loyal friend. Since they are self-chosen names, they are usually words that simply apply to the person. Torthus the Axe didn't put much thought into his, and Mozer the Traveler (a Shout-Out to Ghostbusters) travels a lot.
- In The Golden Compass, Iorek gives Lyra the epithet "Silvertongue" after she tricks the bear king.
- In The Phantom Tollbooth, King Azaz The Unabridged.
- In the Forgotten Realms, the northern tribes use a Badass Boast consisting of achievements, epithets, and anything else they think will psych an opponent out; one specifically called himsef "Dragon's Bane".
- In Warrior Cats, there was an ancient WindClan leader — thought to be one of, if not the greatest, tacticians the forest has ever seen — called Graywing the Wise.
- Lawrence Smith, in Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star, bills himself as "The Great Lorenzo" Smythe, "the One-Man Stock Company", "Pantomimist and Mimicry Artist Extraordinary". He actually is a very capable actor and impersonator, though down on his luck at the beginning of the story, from bad luck and bad judgment.
- David Gemmell's Drenai series is overflowing. Captain of the Silver Axe, Deathwalker, The Silverslayer and Druss the Legend are ONE GUY. Then there's Skilgannon the Damned, Decado the Ice Killer, Tenakha Khan, the Khan of Shadows, Ananias the Golden One. And that covers about 5 of the books.
- Prince Roger: Roger MacClintock will become variously known as Roger the Terrible, the Mad, the Tyrant, and the Kinslayer.
- The royal family in Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm has plenty of these, including Atreus the Bastard who at some point outlawed marriage.
- H.P. Lovecraft's most famous character, Great Cthulhu.
- Calopodius the Blind from the Belisarius Series. Not particularly badass, until you learn he got the nickname by getting a direct hit with a mortar round in the face while leading a team of combat engineers in no-man's land and surviving.
- The Sword of the Stars tie-in novel "The Deacon's Tale" features the Hiver prince Chezokin the Twice-Born. The title is literal — he was reincarnated by Queen Radiant Frost (and thus born again) from the worker caste into a prince for services to the hiver imperium.
- The ogres of City of Devils abide by this trope when choosing their rebirth names. Ugoth the Castrator is a particularly terrifying example.
- Vehron in The Tome of Bill has a number of these, including but not limited to: the Destroyer, the Render, the Hater of All Life and the Sun Strider. And from what we know about him, he definitely earned these names.
- Seraphina has the queen who drafted a peace treaty with dragons, Lavonda the Magnificent.
Live Action TV
- Angel: Illyria. "I am Illyria, God-King of the Primordium, Shaper of Things!"
- Blake's 7. Servalan's full title upon seizing control of the Terran Federation is — President of the Terran Federation, Ruler of the High Council, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies, and Defender of the Earth. It's noticeable that she has this title at a time when the Federation is weakest.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Kahless the Unforgettable.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Lwaxana Troi, daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed." She says this virtually every time she's introduced to just about anyone, whether they are impressed by her titles or not. It's implied that they're ceremonial and largely meaningless.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In the Flash Gordon-type holoprogram The Adventures of Captain Proton!, Chaotica refers to himself as "Ruler of the Cosmos!" When the Doctor has to enter the program B'Elanna asks sarcastically if he's going as "Emperor of the Universe", whereupon the Doctor (who could teach Chaotica a thing or two in the ego department) replies that he's going to have to scale down his role in the interests of credibility — so he's playing "The President of Earth" instead. Not to mention the hero played by Tom Paris.
Tom Paris enters in a blaze of dramatic music
Chaotica: "Captain Proton!"
Tom (Proton): "Spaceman First Class, Protector of Earth, Scourge of Intergalactic Evil...at your service."
- And in the pilot episode when Janeway meets Neelix for the first time.
Janeway: Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager.
Neelix: A very impressive title. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds very impressive.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glory goes a whole season being praised in this way with virtually no repetition. In fact, she realizes one of her minions is dying when the quality of his epithets declines. She even momentarily has a sad, although whether it's due to one of her most prominent servants being badly wounded or his praise being crap is up in the air.
- In the Doctor Who story "Rememberance of the Daleks" the Doctor discribes himself to Davros as "The Doctor, President-elect of the High Council of Time Lords. Keeper of the legacy of Rassilon. Defender of the Laws of Time, Protector of Gallifrey." Of course, he's just being dramatic.
- Then there's the noted horror host Momus Alexander Morgus, AKA Morgus the Magnificent.
- In John Adams, Adams insists the President's dignity should have several honorary and bombastic titles or surnames, but Washington overrules him and sets it as "Mr. President and nothing more". Adams was a real bore on this subject. The Senate eventually voted him the title of "His Rotundity" as a Take That.
- In Horrible Histories' Alexander song, Alexander first upgrades his title from "the Great" to "the Greatest", then decides that's too plain, and opts for "The Living God".
- The Community episode "Advanced Dungeons And Dragons" does this with everyone's name. (Jeff the Liar, Britta the Needlessly Defiant, Abed the Undiagnosable, Pierce the Insensitive, and so on.) This even applies to one of their player characters.
Annie: Hi, I'm...ew! Hector the Well-Endowed? Abed!
- Magnus of The Adventure Zone is occasionally called "the Hammer," despite wielding a battleaxe.
- The Dark Eye: All of the demons and many gods have this in this setting. They aren't always clearly recognizable as good or evil by the name. The black prince of chimeras for example is a name for the god of mercenaries, while the lord of movement is the Evil Counterpart to the goddess of faithfulness and family.
- Warhammer 40,000: Kharn the Betrayer, Abaddon the Despoiler, and Scyrak the Slaughterer, among others.
- All six of the Eldar Phoenix Lords have a title of this sort; as do most special characters.
- To be specific: Maugan Ra, The Harvester of Souls; Jain Zar, The Storm of Silence; Asurmen, The Hand of Asuryen; Karandras, The Shadow Hunter; Baharroth, The Cry of the Wind; and Fuegan, The Burning Lance.
- And their fallen brother, Arhra, the Dark Master.
- COMMISSAR CIAPHAS CAIN, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!
- The Space Wolves, being space Vikings, have these names as a matter of course, with notable figures including Njal Stormcaller (he summons storms), Ulric The Slayer (he's quite good at killing things), and Bjorn The Fell-Handed (he's a ten-thousand-year-old super-soldier living in a walking tank. And one hand is a giant lightning-powered claw with a built-in flamethrower).
- The Primarchs each had a variety of nicknames associated with them such as Angron the Red Angel, Konrad Curze the Night Haunter, Leman Russ the Wolf King, and of course Horus, the Warmaster.
- Everyone of the Necrons named characters have one of these titles (With a few exceptions), its pretty much like their version of last names. Imotekh the Stormlord, Trazyn the Infinite, Anrakr the Traveller, and Orikan the Diviner, also overlaps with Spell My Name with a "The"
- Warhammer, unsurprisingly, has some similar ones- particularly the Ogres. An Ogre Kingdoms player can give their characters "Big Names" as an equipment upgrade, each of which gives some kind of special ability. Then, of course, there's Tradelord Greasus Tribestealer Drakecrush Hoardmaster Goldtooth the Shockingly Obese. Well, Names To Walk Away From At A Brisk Pace, anyway.
- Werewolves in both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken have the practice of deed names, or replacing part of or the whole of a werewolf's birth name with something they're well known for. This leads to names such as "Evan Heals-the-Past" or "Mephi Faster-than-Death."
- The Dragon Blooded woman who saved the world from The Fair Folk and established the Realm came to be known exclusively as the Scarlet Empress, to the point that many modern people don't know what her actual name is.
- The Shard Heaven's Reach has a similar example, in the form of the Exalted emperor known only as Heaven's Son, His Divine Lunar Presence.
- The Swedish Fantasy RPG Eon has the wizard Maxander Guilk, otherwise known as "Maxander The Magnificent"... Who, save for having some skill with Pyrotropic spells, is an incompetent bumbling bufoon, an embarassment to his father, a constant source of danger to those who lo- uh, tolerate his presence and the only one who would ever associate the name "Maxander Guilk" with the word "Magnificent"... He's a kind of amusing Butt Monkey, though.
- There's also the necromancer Driobutus the Diabolical... Who spends his nights writing goth-y poetry; once claimed, in a drunken stupor, to be "the most evil man in Asharia" and who's greatest accomplishment as a necromancer was creating one zombie. He's not so much a Harmless Villain as he is mildly annoying... He can be a kind of amusing Butt Monkey, though.
- In Pippin, after Pippin is crowned king, the Leading Player dubs him "King Pippin, the Charitable" for distributing money to the poor, "King Pippin, the Just" for giving land to the peasants, and "King Pippin, the Peaceful" for abolishing taxation and the army. Then, when the threat of war forces Pippin to suspend all these reforms, he is dubbed "King Pippin the Unpopular."
- The Taming of the Shrew:
Katherina: They call me Katharina that do talk of me.
Petruchio:You lie, in faith; for you are call'd plain Kate,
And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst...
- In Albert Herring, when the title character is crowned King of the May, the villagers raise a toast to "Albert the Good." He parodies this in his following soliloquy:
"Albert the Good"!
Albert who Should!
Who Hasn't and Wouldn't if he Could!
Albert the Meek!
Albert the Sheep!
Mrs. Herring's guinea-pig!
Mrs. Herring's tilly-pig!
Mrs. Herring's prig!
- The second game in the Civilization series bestows various titles on you at the end, which start out at "Insert Name Here The Worthless" and get progressively more positive as your score increases, with "Insert Name Here The Magnificent", appropriately, being the top one.
- Bowser gets a variant in the Paper Mario games: various titles based on "your highness", but with far less complimentary adjectives than "high".
- Player characters in City of Heroes earn the right to choose from a list of these titles once they've reached a sufficiently high level.
- As Skies of Arcadia's Vyse does more and more awesome things, his reputation gets better, and the game actually keeps track of this. He goes from Vyse the Unimpressive to (if the player does well enough) Vyse the Legend over the course of the story. The remake drops hints that all Air Pirates take their "surnames" like this; Dyne of the Blue Storm, Gilder the Unfettered, and so on.
- In Dawn of War: Dark Crusade the Ork campaign has Gorgutz 'ead 'unter get more titles as he kills the other factions on the planet until he finishes and is known as Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter, Rage Screamer, Blood Spilla, Death Killa, Daemon Killa, Gun Smasher, Ghost Killa.
- Also, "Bitchslappa" from the Soulstorm expansion
- In Runes Of Magic, players can get various titles from defeating boss-monsters.
- In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, everyone's secret True Name is like this, for example "Cassanduria the Beautiful" or "Tra'axfyl the Ambitious". Your character's true name is selected from a list of 9 names, based on your character alignment.
- In Tales of the Abyss, all of the God-Generals have titles like this: Asch the Bloody, Legretta the Quick, Arietta the Wild, Largo the Black Lion, and Sync the Tempest. And Dist, who insists his title is "the Rose", but whom everyone else calls Dist the Reaper - except Jade, who calls him Dist the Runny.
- In Fable, a title is all you go as. You can purchase other titles as you go along, and townspeople will refer to you by it. Otherwise, you're a nameless hero.
- In World of Warcraft, titles are purely cosmetic, and there's plenty of them by way of achievements.
- Some, like "YourNameHere Jenkins" are pretty easy to get once you know how. (In this case, you have to re-enact Leeroy Jenkins' infamous charge into the Rookery). Some... Well, let's say they don't help the stereotype of a World of Warcraft player playing all day and all night for several days without bathing or even leaving the computer for more than a few minutes. Like the aptly named and almost-impossible "YourNameHere The Insane".
- Mabinogi has titles you can earn by fulfilling certain conditions, such as "the Fire Arrow" and "who Seduced a Succubus"; all of which confer some sort of stat increase and/or decrease.
- The Total War series allows family members to gain similar epithets, dependent on their character traits (and, indirectly, success as a leader). They range from the embarrassing ("the Cowardly" or "the Cuckold") to the admirable ("the Just", "the Kind") to the impressive ("the Brave", "the Great", "the Mighty") to the hilarious ("the Lewd", "the Queen", "the Idiot") to the downright terrifying ("the Bloody-Handed", "the Tyrant", "The Lord of Terror"). Sadly, the game only ever uses the most recently acquired epithet, making it entirely possible that a general goes from "the Conqueror" to "the Mean".
- In League of Legends, all of the Champions have a epithet of some sort, all of them in varying degrees of impressiveness ("Cho'gath, the Terror of the Void", "Jax, Grandmaster at Arms", "Veigar, the Tiny Master Of Evil").
- In Persona 3, the most powerful Persona of each Arcana is introduced with an appropriately awesome-sounding epithet when the player character unlocks them by mastering that Arcana's Social Link. Examples range from "Surt, the inferno god" and "Scathach, the Teacher" through "Metatron, attendant to the infinite" and "Messiah, the savior."
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Has a couple of these people. One example, an orphanage caretaker named “Grelod the Kind” who is anything but.
- In the Nordic naming convention, there is a difference between names with a "the" and without a "the". If there is an article, it means that this Nord received his moniker personally rather than inherited it like a family name (it can be straight or ironic, like in the case with the aforementioned Grelod, but it is always bestowed on the person directly). If there's no "the", it's a family name inherited from older generations (and, likely, the founder of the bloodline had it with the "the").
- Like a number of MMOs, Champions Online has titles that can be earned for reaching certain levels, killing certain numbers and kinds of enemies, and so on.
- At the very beginning of their personal storylines, characters in Guild Wars 2 are given titles so that voiced NPCs can address them. Humans get called "The Hero of Shaemoor," norn become "The Slayer of Issormir," and charr are promptly promoted to Legionnaire (since every charr is a soldier). What asura and sylvari characters will be called is as of yet unknown.
- Guild Wars 2 also, like many MMOs, has titles tied to the achievement system (and to achievements in the original Guild Wars).
- In Nancy Drew: White Wolf of Icicle Creek, Mystico the Magnificent is quite insistent on the "the Magnificent" part of his name.
- In Crusader Kings II characters can earn epithets depending on their actions, or the traits they have. These range all the way from "The Great" and "The Holy", to "The Bastard" or "The Cruel".
- Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
- In The Sims Medieval the title progression for Monarchs is "Lord/Lady X" for levels 1 to 5, "Lord/Lady X the Great" for levels 5 to 9, and "Lord/Lady X the Illustrious" once they reach level 10.
- Some of the races in Sword of the Stars use this sort of naming. Morrigi have names such as "Atreus the Bloody" or "Tadc Chaac the Honey-tongued" while Zuul have "Lord Aeshma the Hungry" or "Master Kandh the Bonecrusher".
- Stern the Destructor and Levi the Slasher from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable games. In their case, they're ancient Magi Tech programs that have taken human forms, so the descriptive titles really are a part of their actual names.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Reynardine the Great does not play with dolls. Except when he does. Which is probably why he doesn't call himself Reynardine the Great anymore.
- Roy Greenhilt's family from The Order of the Stick was named after their ancestral sword as explained in #113. (It isn't linked because it contains spoilers.) Guess what color the sword's hilt is.
- Girl Genius: The Unstoppable Higgs
- "Girl Genius" may also qualify, though she isn't called that in-universe. Also Othar Tryggvassen, GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER!!
- Looking for Group brings us Richard, Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead, and Mayor of a Little Village up the Coast. He later added Lord of the Dance and, more recently, Mistress of Magma.
- Get Medieval: Sir Michel L'Incroyable (Michel the Incredible), though he never actually appears in the comic. Also Sir Edward Sans-Nom (Edward the Nameless)—there is a reason for that one, but at least one other knight meets him and is confused by it.
- In Our Little Adventure, Angelo is referred to by his followers as "Our Beautiful Worship."
- Eerie Cuties: Lupus the Wolf-Hearted
- Squid Row Maximillian the Painter
- Schlock Mercenary offers us the defence chair of the yomingian people, Assassin Martre Flamb.
Captain Tagon: Assassin...
Martre Flamb: ...Martre Flamb, at your service, Captain.
Captain Tagon: That's an interesting honorific.
Martre Flamb: Oh, it's not honorific. I earned it.
- Whateley Academy gets a lot of this since it's a school for superpowered teenagers.
- new kid Buck Swift, Boy of Tomorrow! Everyone else lampshades this. Constantly.
Thorn: “No, no, no… Tomorrow is simply no good for me, I’m booked solid. What about the day after tomorrow?”
- Molly "Gateway" Harrington: all of the magical creatures she summons insist on calling her "The Summoner" and she's only just realized that she's the only one who receives this deference
- The Futurama episode "My Three Suns" had a planet of water creatures who gave their kings titles describing their structure and consistency — "King [name] the [word meaning 'wet']". When Fry became king, he was given the title "King Fry the Solid... who enjoyed a soup composed principally of Thron the Chunky..."
- "I am the Professor, Wise and... uh... Forgetful!
- In an episode of Sushi Pack, Unagi developed a new power and christened himself "Unagi the Magnificient." Later on, he changed this to "Unagi the Terribly Magnificient."
- In Theodore Tugboat the larger tugs have "V-Words" to show that they are qualified to sail out on the ocean. Emily The Valiant, George The Vigorous and Foduck The Vigilant. Theodore and Hank dream of the day when they can get their own V-Words. Theodore likes the sound of being called Theodore The Valuable/Very Valuable. Hank prefers Volcano...
- Badass Grandpa, Old Master, Quickly Demoted Leader, and Cool Old Guy General "Uncle" Iroh.
Iroh: Do you know why they called me the Dragon of the West?
- In the Looney Tunes short "Knight-Mare Hare", Bugs Bunny travels back in time to the Middle Ages and meets a knight who introduces himself thusly:
I, knave, am Sir O of K, Earl of Watercress, Sir Osis of the Liver, Knight of the Garter, and Baron of Wooster-cester-shister-shyster-schuster-shuster-shister-shire... shire.
Bugs: My, he's a big one.
- Bugs then procedes to spoof this trope by talking about some of his friends: "Duke of Ellington, Count of Basie, Earl of Hines, Cab of Calloway, Satchmo of Armstrong."
- "Presenting your royal highness, our illustrious King Julian the XIII, self-proclaimed lord of the lemurs, etc, etc, hooray, everybody."
- In the Sonic Sat AM episode "No Brainer" Snively wipes Sonic's memory and convinces him that the two are old friends, introducing himself as "Snively the Great." When the effect is reversed at the end of the episode, Sonic plays the trope literally by dubbing himself "Sonic the Magnificent."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Master Billy Quizboy, Boy Genius of The Venture Bros. whose real name is William Whalen. Even though he's middle-aged, he still retains the Boy Genius epithet partly due to the fact that he looks like a child and partly because "Master Billy Quizboy, Adult Genius" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
- Magnificent Muttley has the snickering sidekick of Dick Dastardly daydreaming of himself in heroic circumstances.
- Mario Lemieux had many nicknames and "The Magnificent" was one of them.
- This is, unsurprisingly, Older Than Dirt, appearing virtually simultaneously with the invention of writing. The rightful Ur Example of this, however, is (quite appropriately) King Shulgi of the Third Dynasty of Ur, who left behind a whole bibliography of poems consisting basically of lists of his increasingly audacious epithets, which are ultimately so ridiculously awesome, he ceases to seem like a braggart and just becomes Crazy Awesome instead.
- Some kings get pretty bizarre titles: William The Conqueror was also William the Bastard;note James II was known as Séamus an Chaca (James the Shit) in Ireland for abandoning the Irish in their fight against the Williamites after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
- Incidentally, William the Bastard Conqueror's father Robert I, Duke of Normandy, was himself titled Robert the Magnificent.
- Other British Monarchs include Richard I "The Lionheart", Edward I "Longshanks", William II "Rufus", or notoriously, "Bloody" Mary I. Elizabeth I had a number of nicknames, most famously "The Virgin Queen" (She was also called "Gloriana," "Good Queen Bess", "Fortune's Empress," and "the Queen of the Northern Seas," among others.) The Irish, of course, reversed the epithets of Mary I and Elizabeth I, calling the former "Good Queen Mary" and the latter "Bloody Bess". Considering what Elizabeth's armies did to Ireland, this is not surprising.
- Isabella, wife of Edward II and daughter of French king Philip IV (the Fair), was nicknamed "the She-wolf of France."
- And for Anglo-Saxon kings, there was Alfred The Great (the only English monarch to be given that title, the work of enthusiastic Victorian romantics—which isn't to say he isn't fully deserving of the title), Harold I "Harefoot" (nicknamed for his skills at hunting), Edmund II "Ironside," Edward the Martyr, Eadwig "All-Fair," Aethelstan the Glorious, Edward the Confessor...In part, this is because the Anglo-Saxons did not use the continental system of numeric identification, instead identifying leaders by either patronyms (such as "Godwinson") or epiphets. That's why the Norman monarch Edward I was actually the third English king to bear that name (and arguably the fourth, depending on whether or not you accept Edward the Elder's claim to kingship "of the Anglo-Saxons", a nominal claim which preceded de facto unification under his son).
- A contrast to the the impressive cognomens is Æthelred the Unready, although his cognomen, Unræd, is better translated as "Ill-Advised". His given name means "Wise Counsel", making him "Wise Counsel the Ill-advised".
- The Scandinavians did this a lot as well: The real-life origin of the Luke Noun Verber trope is how Scandianivan kings of old used to obtain titles like this, which would eventually go on to eclipse their birth surnames in posterity. Examples are many in range, from Bluetooth to Forkbeard to Skullsplitter.
- The first king of Norway was known as Harald Haarfagre, or "Harald Fair-Hair". Lest you think this meant he was a bishonen, he used to be known as "Harald Tangle-Hair" as he'd vowed never to cut or comb his hair until he ruled the entire country. Thus the epithet symbolised that he'd succeeded in his wow.
- A more ambiguous examples is Ivar the Boneless, whose nickname has been variously interpreted as:
- A reference to a deformity or disability (and fairly diverse deformities, at that: there is a school of thought that the name is a mistranslation, as the Old Norse word for bone was identical to the word for leg).
- An ironic reference to physical size and durability.
- A reference to his agility and litheness in battle, implying that he moved as if he had no bones.
- A euphemism for impotence.
- A reference to snakes (his family's motif, according to some sources).
- And then there's Ragnar Lodbrok (Meaning "Ragnar Hairy-Pants"), one of the most feared warlords of the era. Go figure.
- Harald Hardraada — roughly translates as "Harald the Ruthless" or "Harald Hard-Ruler", although a more literal translation produces "Harald Hard Advice."
- Strangely enough, there's also Eric the Memorable of Denmark, which no one seems to remember.
- Simply because he was memorable doesn't mean we went ahead and did it.
- Eric Bloodaxe of Norway. According to some sources he did not get his name because he was a great warrior who slew a lot of people in battle but because he was a fratricide(who killed his "own blood"). To bad because the other interpretation is way cooler.
- Another female example was Sigrid the Haughty. Mother of Olof Skötekonung (meaning, roughly, "king in his mothers womb" although it could also mean "tax-king" because he was the first king of a united Sweden and as such took taxes from both the Svear and Geat tribes )and wife of Erik the victorious and Sweyin Forkbeard (all excellent examples of this trope on their own). She is mostly remembered for burning unworthy suitors (petty kings from Norway and Russia) to death and (maybe) driving her son and second husband, the kings of Sweden and Denmark, into war with Norway after the Norwegian king struck her when she refused to convert to Christianity and marry him.
- The French also liked this trope. We have Pepin the Short, Louis the Child, Louis the German, Louis the Fat, Charles the Bald, Charles the Simple, Louis the Sluggard, Louis the Quarreler, Louis the Spider...
- Or rather Louis XI, the Universal Spider, which sounds infinitely more awesome. It was probably a reference to his sly, manipulative, amoral construction of "webs" of influence.
- Note that the French kings didn't get to choose their own epithets, which is why so many of them are less than flattering.
- Which makes the sobriquet of Louis XI all the more awesome. To chivalry-minded medieval chroniclers, it was an insult. But to modern viewers, who jadedly expect and (begrudgingly) want the heads of their countries to be magnificent bastards, it's a compliment.
- However, there is also Louis XIV, "The Sun King"—because everything revolved around him.
- There's also Louis XI's father, Charles VII, le Bien-Servi ("The Well-Served"). This somewhat puzzling nickname makes sense when you realize that it was under his reign that the English were finally kicked out of France, but that the actual out-kicking was perceived to have been done by people other than him (e.g. Joan of Arc).
- His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.
- "Al Hadji", at least, was legitimately earned; every Muslim who makes the pilgrimage to Mecca (the "hajj") is entitled to that title.
- Ivan the Terrible. Ivan IV's moniker was translated into English when the older meaning of terrible, that which inspires terror, was the primary meaning.
- Russian Tsars also retained this tradition longer than other monarchs, until the 19th century. We have an Alexis the Most Serene, a Peter the Great, an Anna the Bloody and a Catherine the Great, an Alexander the Blessed, an Alexander the Liberator and an Alexander the Peacemaker. The last Tsar, Nicholas II, has no sobriquet because the Russians cannot agree on what sobriquet to use. (Nobody seems to like even the obvious one: "Nicholas the Last".)
- The Ottoman Turkish sultan who presided over the height of Ottoman power in the 16th century? Suleiman the Magnificent. Incidentally, that's his Western epithet. In his own nation, he was known as The Lawgiver, and supposedly, that's how wanted to be remembered.
- Some Turkish sultans suffered from bad epithets instead: Ibrahim I was "the Mad," and Selim II was "the Sot."*
- Mehmet II is rarely referred to as Mehmet in Turkey, but as Fatih, which is his title, meaning the Conqueror (he conquered Constantinople).
- Sultan Abdul Hamid II earned the nickname "Abdul The Butcher" and "The Red Sultan" outside of Turkey because of the massacres of 300,000 Ottoman Armenians he ordered between 1894-96.
- A couple of centuries before Ottoman dominance, the Turks already gave us Alp Arslan, meaning "Warrior Lion".
- Prior to the widespread use of family names, bynames were a pretty standard way of sorting out every Tom, Dick and Harry from every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. Everyone would have bynames — mutating perhaps according to their changes in life. Joan of Arc's mother, for instance, was known as Joan who has been to Rome, because she had gone on a pilgrimage to Rome (of all places).
- Vlad III, Voivode (Prince) of Wallachia, also known as Vlad Draculea (Son of Dragon) or Vlad Tepes (the Impaler).
- An ancient Athenian statesman, Aristides, was often referred to as "The Just." One probably apocryphal story tells of an illiterate citizen who, not recognizing him, asked — and got! — Aristides' help in casting a vote for Aristides to be ostracized (i.e. exiled for ten years). The fellow's reason? "I'm simply so tired of always hearing him called 'The Just'!"
- A rather more famous Greek ended up with the epithet "The Great". Amongst his successors were Seleucus I Nicator ("the Victor"), Ptolemy I Soter ("the Saviour"), Demetrius I Poliorcetes ("the Besieger"), Ptolemy II Keraunos ("Thunderbolt") and the rather less impressively-named Antigonus I Monophthalmus ("the One-Eyed").
- Even less impressive would be Ptolemy II Philadelphus ("the Sister-Lover"), not to mention Ptolemy VIII Physcon ("the Pot-Belly").
- Another Ptolemy with a less-than-fearsome sobriquet was Ptolemy XII Auletes, or "Ptolemy the Piper." Macedonian Egypt had fallen on hard times under his rule, and didn't really have any great achievements worth memorializing beyond "the guy who played his flute a lot." Better than being a BAD ruler, though.
- There are also four popes known as "The Great":
- St. Leo I (440-461)
- St. Gregory I (590-406)
- St. Nicholas I (858-867)
- St. John Paul II (1978-2005)
- Charlemagne, or "Charles the Great".
- His contemporary was Rhodri Mawr, High King of Wales - Wales being its own country at that time and not property of the English crown. Mawr translates to "the Great."
- Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Renaissance, was known as Il Magnifico.
- In the letters that Charles I of Spain interchanged with his rival Francis I of France, the former always signed with a absurdly long list of titles. Francis I simply signed his own as "a denizen of Paris".
- The Douglas family. Probably the most famous member is Sir James Douglas the Black (as the English called him. To his fellow Scots he was Good Sir James), son of William Douglas the Hardy, brother of Hugh the Dull and Archibald the Tyneman (meaning "The Loser"), and father of Archibald the Grim.
- This was a staple of Ancient Rome. Romans who would have something relatively exceptional would gain a Cognomen (a nickname) which would be added to his official name and could be inherited and mark a whole family line. Caesar meant "Hairy" (inherited, as he was balding, although it might have been an ironic commentary on an ancestor's baldness). Other famous cognomen were Scipio "Africanus" (the African, after his successful African military campaign against Hannibal), Pompey "Magnus" (the Great), Sulla "Felix" (the Lucky).
- In fact, there were a good number of Roman leaders who ended up with epithets referring major campaigns, like the aforementioned Africanus, as well as Germanicus (the German), Thrax (the Thracian), Parthicus (the Parthian), etc. Over time, it became more and more common for high-ranking Romans to claim such a epithet regardless of accuracy.
- The earned nicknames were actually called "agnomina" (singular "agnomen"). Ones that were inherited and not earned weren't nicknames, but family names, and therefore became extended cognomina. Caesar and Cicero are both examples of cognomina that were once an ancestor's agnomen; Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, however, earned one of his own to pass down. The result of the passing down was that the names became kind of meaningless, except for an indication of good lineage.
- At one point in Claudius the God, the emperor comments that his full name was Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus Britannicus Caesar Augustus. That was an interesting mixture of cognomina and agnomina: Drusus was an old, old title of the Claudian family (their ancestor defeated a Celtic chieftain with that name); Germanicus was a title the emperor had inherited from his father; while "Caesar" and "Augustus" had become the standard imperial cognominae. But "Britannicus" was a real agnomen: Claudius's legions had conquered a small part of southern England and the Senate had voted him the title of "conqueror of the Britons."
- By a similar system, the old form of the Arabic name consists of:
- A Kunya, a sort of inverse patronymic, being "Abu" (father of) or "Umm" (mother of) your eldest son (or your eldest daughter if you have no sons), used as a nickname.
- Say a fellow with the personal name "Muhammad" gets married to a woman named "Maryam". He then has a daughter, whom he names "Fatima". At that point, Muhammad is "Abu Fatima" and Maryam is "Umm Fatima;" they are liable to call each other that around the house, as are their close friends at intimate gatherings. If they then have a son named "Abdullah", Muhammad gets the new nickname "Abu Abdullah" and Maryam becomes "Umm Abdullah", and remain so ever afterward—even if Abdullah dies in infancy.
- Your personal name.
- The Laqab, which concerns us here. Laqab means "appellation" in Arabic, and it's typically some kind of nickname. Like the Roman cognomen, it was often inherited; unlike the cognomen, you typically only had one, and it was not necessarily inherited. Oddly, the kunya can become a laqab and thus become hereditary.
- Confusing matters is that sometimes a kunya structure can be adapted for a pure laqab; a common way of saying "the guy with the X" in colloquial Arabic is to say "Abu X." So if the guy has, say, a lazy eye, he might get the nickname "Abu Ain"—"the guy with the eye"; someone noted for intelligence or cleverness might be called "Abu Aql," "the guy with the brains" or more idiomatically "The Smart Guy".note These are common in Moroccan last names, usually rendered "Bou[something]" in Latin letters (Moroccan dialect knocks off initial vowels).
- The Nasab, a string of patronymics going back as far as you care to remember.
- The Nisba, a second nickname indicating a place of origin, a tribe or clan, or a profession.
- In modern times, the Laqab and Nisba are commonly used as last names by Arabic speakers, although in many countries (e.g. Egypt), it is more common to find one of the names in the Nasab used (typically, the male-line grandfather or great-grandfather of the first member of the family to record a last name).
- The ninth century Bulgarian Khan Krum was known among Byzantine historians as "The Terrifying" for the revenge he took upon Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros I for invading Bulgaria in 811. After rejecting several attempts to negotiate and sacking the Bulgarian capital, the Byzantines were ambushed in a mountain pass on their way home. The entire invading force was nearly destroyed, the Emperor killed, and his son mortally wounded, marking only the second time in Byzantine history that an Emperor fell in battle. Krum then had the Emperor's skull lined with silver and jewels and used it as a drinking cup. The first document to mention "The Terrifying" was written some 150 years later, so you can bet the Byzantines were still scaring their children with stories about this guy long after he died.
- Later on, eastern Roman emperor Basil II conquered Bulgaria after centuries of brutal warfare. It is said that after the Battle of Kleidion he took between 8000 to 15000 Bulgarian captives and blinded 99 of every 100, leaving each hundredth with one eye to lead his fellow captives back to the Bulgarian Tzar Samuel. Upon seeing what happened to his soldiers, Samuel had a heart attack and died. And this guy was no wimp either, he had been leading troops in battle against the Byzantine Empire his entire reign and had killed his own brother and most of his family for challenging his rule. For this, Basil II became known as Basil the Bulgar-slayer, truly a name to run away from really fast.
- In the 13th century there was a Swedish king who entered history as Eric the Lisp and Lame. If you're a regent and got a name like that, you know you don't let enough heads roll.
- Funnily, contemporary sources peg Eric as a decent man and good but unremarkable king (The few lines of the "Erikskrönika" that mentioin him state "he kept good counsel and chivalrous ways, and gave the farmers good years of peace"). Granted, he also had a knack for surrounding himself with competent and loyal people, such as his jarl (think "King's Hand") Birger, whose sheer levels of badassness made the title obsolete.
- The great fourteenth-century conqueror known to the west as Tamberlaine The Great was actually named 'Temur' (or 'Timur,' or...), and called himself 'Amir Temur,' where Amir is just an Arabic term for a commander. 'Timur Lang' is 'Timur the Lame,' because it turns out he did all his Badass feats with a deformed leg.
- Sixth century Sassanid emperor Khusrau I has the rather unique appellation of Anushirvan, or "He of the immortal soul," due to his enlightened rule.
- Spain made no bones about some of its genetically unfortunate Trastamara and Habsburg monarchs, such as Juana la Loca (Joan the Mad)* and Carlos el Hechizado (Charles the Bewitched, a.k.a. Charles II), whose incapacity caused the War of the Spanish Succession.
- Played straight with Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a.k.a. El Cid Campeador (that is "The Lord, Master of the (Battle)field, the first coming from the Arabic and the last from the Latin). So magnificent that both friend and foe recognized his military prowess.
- Bulgarian national hero Vasil Ivanov Kunchev is universally known as Vasil Levski ("Leonine") — a nickname he earned for his courage and agility in training and fighting the Ottoman turks for the Fortress of Belgrade. His revolutionary activities and ideology seeking the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule had also earned him the titles "Apostle of Freedom" and "The Deacon".
- One really odd one is "Tahir the Ambidextrous", a one-eyed Persian rebel noble in the early days of the slow collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate.
- And a particularly badass one — the prophet Muhammad's general, Khalid ibn al-Walid, who won more than 100 battles, was given the nickname Sayf Allah al-Maslul — The Drawn Sword of God.
- William the Silent, the leader of the Dutch in the Eighty Years' War. He gained his nickname by remaining tactifully silent when asked about religious persecution.
- In case of kings who also became saints, this seems to be inverted—the saint part comes first, the king part follows "the." Thus, St. Louis the King (of France), St. Stephen the King (of Hungary), etc. Not in all traditions it is so, for example, Kievan Rus had Prince Vladimir the Saint (a.k.a. Vladimir the Red Sun), and one version of the last Russian Tsar's sobriquet is Nicholas the Saint.