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The daughter trope of Our Monsters Are Different and Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp".

So your characters are on an adventure in a Magical Land, and they naturally run into a mythical creature. Said creature is then identified in the text or dialogue by the name of a different mythical being or fantasy creature. Cue a moment of confusion for the viewer.

This could be employed just to underline in red crayon that Our Monsters Are Different. Alternatively, of course, the writer did no research — or did a little too much research, finding an extremely obscure name or form of a familiar creature. This is a common cheat when fishing for names for Palette Swap Underground Monkeys.

This isn't quite Sadly Mythtaken as the very fact that the writer knows that mythical creatures have specific names implies doing some research. (Sadly Mythtaken is more for The Theme Park Version / Disneyfication of classic myths.)

In case you're wondering, the most commonly accepted generic term for winged horses is "pterippi", a modern construction of the Ancient Greek words "pteron" ("wing") and "hippos" ("horse"). However they're often simply called "pegasi/pegasus" after the most famous example — see A Kind of One.

Compare Istanbul (Not Constantinople), which is similar but for place names, and Not Using the "Z" Word.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gryphon from Bakugan is actually portrayed as a winged, three-headed monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail instead of a monster with a bird's head and wings and a lion's body. This more closely resembled a chimera.
  • In Black Clover, the fire spirit is described as a "salamander." While it starts off small, it has wings and pretty quickly grows into what would be better described as a "dragon."
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba refers to the titular monsters as "oni" in Japanese, and the English versions uses "demons", but they typically have more in common with vampires: insatiable bloodlust, Healing Factor, fangs, reproduce by infecting humans with their blood, and can only be killed by decapitation or exposure to sunlight.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • There's an in-story example when the group encounters a monstrous dog creature with multiple heads. Nodoka, being the high-fantasy book fan, identifies it as Orthrus by its snake-head tails. But at the same time, it has three heads total like Cerberus (whereas Orthrus had two), so she can't really identify it as anything. This probably serves as a Chekhov's Gun because the person who conjured it (it was actually an illusion) was just a child with likely not much knowledge on mystical consistency. Note that in some myths, Cerberus is depicted with a snake tail or with snakes on his back, despite this trait being more typically associated with Orthrus.
    • They later encounter a dragon. Nodoka and Yue briefly get caught up in a discussion of whether it's technically a wyrm before realizing that a gigantic fire-breathing lizard is charging them and decide it doesn't really matter that much.
    • Later on, Yue and her classmates fight against a creature called a "Griffin Dragon". The only thing about it that was Dragon-like was a scaly tail and a pair of horns. Oh, and the Breath Weapon.
  • The witches from Puella Magi Madoka Magica aren't humanoid magic users, but Eldritch Abominations that feed on human emotion and live in Labrynths. This name makes a bit more sense when you learn that they're corrupted Magical Girls. Their familiars also aren't animals, but rather similar monsters that are subservient to them.
    • This is partly a translation issue. The original Japanese term here is "Majo". The first syllable uses the character for demon, but is also the first character of "mahou", which means magic (literally "demon arts"). So "Majo" in Japanese can mean either Witch (from "magic woman") or Demoness (from "demon woman") and both are accepted meanings. The [[Stinger]] of episode 8 hinges on the double meaning, so translations have to pick Witch for that to work in the translation.
  • Shadow Star has this on multiple levels. All of the monsters in the story are collectively referred to as "dragons", even though most of them are closer to Starfish Aliens than anything else. There's only one that does look like a dragon, at least in the sense of being a giant reptilian creature with wings. . . but it's called "Tarasque", after a monster from French folklore that it looks nothing like.

    Comic Books 
  • Dream of The Sandman (1989) has three guardian beasts, one of which is a winged horse. This character is also identified as a hippogriff. Given that this is Neil Gaiman writing, it's likely an E. Nesbit tribute (see Literature below). Also, the dragon (four legs) is called a wyvern (two legs) - possibly Neil knew what he was talking about but none of the artists did.
  • There is a Marvel Comics villain named Griffin, presumably because he's a winged beast, but with his humanoid face, lion-like mane, and spiked tail he more resembles a manticore. It seems like he's only called griffin under the presumption people would be more familiar with that mythical creature.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The Leviathan is actually still referred to in-film as "a mythical sea serpent", but it is actually a giant mechanical lobster; it does not look remotely serpent-like.
    Rourke: Tell Cookie to melt the butter and break out the bibs, I want this lobster served up on a silver platter!
  • The Black Cauldron: Creeper is universally reckoned to be some sort of goblin or imp (small, misshapen, pointy ears, green skin). However, production material identifies him as a "dwarf".
  • In Frozen (2013) the Scandinavian-inspired magical kingdom has trolls who are depicted as tiny magical creatures that aid human beings. In actual Scandinavian folklore, trolls are an Always Chaotic Evil race that mostly lure away children and wanderers to eat them. The creatures in the film would fit better as dwarves/dark elves in Norse Mythology. They were, however, accurate in portraying trolls as magic users. Sweden still uses the word "troll" as a prefix to mean magic; for instance, a wizard or a stage magician is a Troll-Man (trollkarl) and the act of using magic is Troll-Art (Trollkonst).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: The Dazzlings' original Equestrian forms resemble hippocampi, but are called "sirens" due to their Mind-Control Music powers similar to sirens of Greek mythology. Seeing as ponies are the dominant life form of Equestria, this could also be considered a take on Sirens Are Mermaids.
  • Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken zigzags this. While the Giant Krakens are very much reminiscent to krakens of folklore with multiple tentacles and whatnot, regular krakens are human-sized and only have two legs, which make them more in-line with gill-men, pun not intended on Ruby's surname.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The creatures in Are We Monsters are called werewolves, but while they use the classic traits of Alternate Identity Amnesia, full-moon transformations, and the silver bullet weakness, the fact they lack any clearly lupine trait and look like long-necked humanoids bring more into mind the Rokurokubi.
  • In Avatar the giant, reptilian, mountain dwelling creatures are called "Banshees" by the humans. Granted, hearing the call of such a creature very well could signal the end of your life (the largest of which, called the Toruk, actually even means "the last shadow", as in the last one you'll ever see), but one would think that the first thing that came to mind when the humans saw them would be a dragon.
  • The monster from Clash of the Titans is referred to as a Kraken. The Kraken originates from Scandinavian mythology, not Greek, and the monster in the myth on which Clash of the Titans was based was actually named Cetus (Which, incidentally, is where we get the scientific term cetaceans, meaning whales.)
  • In Drag Me to Hell, the classic "man-goat" demon that is after the (female) protagonist is oddly called a lamia, a creature with vastly different representations in the folklore of different European countries but that is always said to be female and most often a beautiful seductress. This is acknowledged in one scene where the demon's shadow briefly resembles that of a young woman before morphing into its usual figure.
  • An early draft of the first American Godzilla featured a rival kaiju called the Gryphon; however, it is described as an amalgam of mountain lion and bat rather than the traditional lion and eagle.
  • Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams: At one point Juni refers to the half gorilla, half tarantula creature that's been following him as a centaur. Its actual name seems to be a "spider monkey".
  • In MirrorMask there are a lot of catlike creatures with human heads. In Classical Mythology, such creatures are known as sphinxes, but the one of them that asks a riddle is identified in the script as a Gryphon, which should be a hybrid of a lion and eagle.
  • Napoleon Dynamite: The liger is a real animal, but the creature that Napoleon draws (and claims has magical powers) looks more like a manticore.note 
  • The undead from the original Night Of The Living Dead were called ghouls rather than zombies. Though at this stage, the idea of zombies converting people by biting them was an Unbuilt Trope and most later zombie movies were influenced by this one.
  • In the Russian movie, Guardians of The Night, what are clearly vampires are called ghouls. When questioned about it, Igor just says that vampires are from Hollywood.
  • In-Universe in The Giver, which is set in a time when most animals (except those farmed for food) are extinct or considered mythical. When presenting a "comfort object" (stuffed animal) to baby Gabe, Jonas' father calls it a "hippo," even though it's clearly an elephant. Later Jonas, having gained memories of the past, calls it by its proper name.
  • The titular sea monster The Giant Behemoth is a case of this. It's called the Behemoth, but the biblical Behemoth was a land-dwelling creature generally implied to be some sort of big mammal. The so-called Behemoth from the movie has more in common with the Leviathan.

  • In E. Nesbit's The Book Of Beasts, the hero must summon a creature identified as a hippogriff to save his city from a dragon. The creature that appears is what most people would identify as a pegasus, a winged horse. To be fair, you can't say that a hippogriff isn't a winged horse (or that a pegasus isn't technically part horse, part bird for that matter). It's also possible that Nesbit figured that the word pegasus must only refer to the Pegasus. (Though Pliny the Elder mentioned Pegasi living in Aegypt, so the idea of multiple Winged Horses is Older Than Print.)
  • An older example is Frank Stockton's short story, The Griffin and the Minor Canon from 1885, in which the eponymous monster — by its description — is clearly a dragon. The story might actually be considered a Lampshade Hanging on this trope, as the dragon sees a statue of a griffin and assumes that he must be of the same species and that "griffin" is what humans call him. Got all that? Sir Arthur Charles Fox-Davies warns against confusing the two in his A Complete Guide to Heraldry, so it was apparently a common Victorian mistake.
    It had a large head, with enormous open mouth and savage teeth; from its back arose great wings, armed with sharp hooks and prongs; it had stout legs in front, with projecting claws; but there were no legs behind,—the body running out into a long and powerful tail, finished off at the end with a barbed point. This tail was coiled up under him, the end sticking up just back of his wings.
  • In The Firebringer Trilogy, the enemies of the unicorn protagonists are referred to as wyverns - but from their description, they're more like hydra.
  • One of the stranger examples is in the book Thorn Ogres Of Hagwood. A character wanders into the action about halfway through the story. He is a short humanoid with a big, big beard and he carries a lot of different tools and has a great talent for metalwork. He is identified as a dwa... no, wait, he is a Pooka. Pookas technically can appear as dwarves but they also tend to be a lot weirder.
  • Boggarts in Harry Potter, which are not shapeshifters in English lore, but rather malicious fey that spend their time by infuriating housewives and maids through mischief and vandalism. The creatures in "Harry Potter" are more likely boogeymen, which fit the idea of a closet-dwelling demon that takes on one's worst fear.
    • Rowling tends to do this a lot. Her "selkies", for example, are apparently just the Scottish subspecies of merfolk, with no connection to seals.
    • Amusingly, the hippogriffs that do appear are actually hippogriffs - that is, half eagle, half horse. However, they are not Ludovico Ariosto's griffin/horse hybrids but rather their own species.
    • Dobby the elf gets his name from a type of hobgoblin in Lancaster folklore.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien was fond of using "worm", the Middle and Modern English cognate of Old English "wyrm", to mean "dragon" or "serpent". "Worm" in the sense of "dragon" is attested as late as the mid-19th century in Northern English, as in the ballads of The Lambton Worm and The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh, so the Good Professor wasn't just making it up as he went along. It is even older — in the old North Germanic languages, "orm" could mean a snake, a worm or a dragon by modern English terms.
  • Although she never appears in the stories in person, it's made pretty clear that the Cthulhu Mythos' Mother Hydra (a Mythos addition by August Derleth) has nothing to do with the Hydra of the Greek myth.
  • In David Weber's Safehold books, the humans who have settled on the planet Safehold have named many local animals after mythical beasts. Examples include the kraken (described as a cross between a squid and a shark, fitting the latter's place in Safeholdian ecology), the dragon (a massive, six-legged animal that comes in both carnivorous and herbivorous varieties), and the wyvern (four-winged flyers that are the Safeholdian analogue of birds).
  • Arcana has "Unicorns," which resemble the usual image of unicorns only in that they have a single horn and are roughly horse-sized and shaped. They are black, with disproportionately long legs, powerful hindquarters, and ears like a bobcat — and possess a mouthful of long tusks and sharp, carnivorous teeth.
  • Elvenbane: There are carnivorous "Alicorns" (also called "One-Horns", but guess what unicorn means) in this series as well. Traditionally, this word refers to either winged unicorns or the horn of a unicorn, although it's likely a result of centuries of Recursive Translation from English <-> French (unicorn -> une icorne -> l'icorne -> a licorn -> alicorn).
  • In The Carpet People, there's an enigmatic, prescient race which most people would call "elves" based on the description. Instead they're "wights", which more commonly refers to minions of The Undead. Wight originally just meant "being" in Old English, so this usage is a throwback to the traditional definition.
  • H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy shows humans taking a third option when naming an alien animal. It's big and has a horn on its nose. Rhino? No, it has three horns. Triceratops? No. They call it a "damnthing".
  • In Richard Ellis Preston Jr.'s Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin, the aliens are called Martians. They're not from Mars. Whatever they are, it's much farther away. Nevertheless the name stuck even though characters are well aware that it's this trope.
  • Richard Sharpe Shaver called his subterranean morlock-like boogiemen "deros", which was apparently short for "detrimental robots", even though they weren't supposed to be mechanical at all.
  • The White Court vampires from The Dresden Files are succubi/incubi and have nothing in common with vampires apart from feeding (sexual energy not blood) off humans.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, an ifrit (a powerful genie from Arabian legend) is instead the Warlocknote  equivalent to a Muggle Born of Mages.
  • Downplayed in Many Waters, where the Nephilim are depicted as fallen angels, as opposed to the Half-Human Hybrid children thereof. Those exist too, but they don't seem to have a name.
  • The how-to-draw book disguised as a field guide Dracopedia claims that some mythical creatures are actually dragons. Example include:
    • The Kirin is a species of Arctic dragon.
    • The salamander is a species of basilisk.
    • The Phoenix is a species of Coatyl.
    • The Jabberwocky is a species of Feydragon.
    • The Indian Naga is a species of hydra. Also mentioned is the medusan hydra, cerebus hydra and the Japanese hydra, aka Yamata-no-orochi.
    • The sea orc also goes by sea serpent or leviathan.
    • The Lindwyrm is a type of wyrm that has vestigial legs. Wyrms also go by Ouroboros.
    • The Elwah dragon is also called a Thunderbird.
  • Downplayed in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, where a "svartalf" is the offspring of a dwarf and a god, which makes them look relatively more human than a normal dwarf. "Svartalf" translates as "dark elf," but scholars are eternally confused whether Norse mythology considered this a separate race or another term for dwarves; either way, there's no indication that they would be the children of gods.
  • Ogres in The Secret of Platform 13 are one-eyed giants that tend sheep. A description more fitting a Cyclops.
  • In Monica Hughes's Isis books, Olwen has a pet which is first described as similar to a dog - furry, with large paws and a waggy tail - but Guardian refers to it as "Draco hirsutis" - literally, "hairy dragon". (For bonus confusion, Olwen named it Hobbit.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Somewhat related: The creatures that attack Arthur and Merlin in the Merlin (1998) miniseries are Raptors with squirrel-like patagia no matter how much Merlin insists on calling them griffons.
  • Rather than wild, intoxicated and lustful female followers of the Greek god Dionysus, maenads in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Expanded Universe are depicted as equally mad followers of an ancient vampire named Kakistos (whom Faith slew later) who were prime cases of Being Tortured Makes You Evil (or just plain crazy) and passed their tortures onto other unfortunate girls until their minds broke and served Kakistos as well.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • This show did the same, except it used the name "Bacchae", which actually referred to Bacchus' human female followers (at least, the maenads were nymphs).
    • They also had winged skeletons that were called "dryads" for some reason.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In the second season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, two Thunderzords were renamed from their Gosei Sentai Dairanger counterparts to other, similar creatures:
      • The Yellow Ranger's Qilin/Kirin mecha became a Griffin; probably to downplay the Chinese-ness of the original and because the audience wasn't expected to know what a Qilin or Kirin was.
      • The Blue Ranger's mecha was shifted from a Pegasus (by its Chinese name "Tenma" in Dairanger) to a Unicorn. This could have been done to smooth over the change from the prior season's blue mecha, a Triceratops, by making a 'horned beasts' connection. The fact that the mecha has no wings* but does have a small blaster "horn" extending from the front of its mane also makes changing the name make sense.
    • In Seijuu Sentai Gingaman and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, the Green Ranger's parter/mecha was dragonlike with some birdlike characteristics. Both shows referred to it as a kind of bird and denied it was a dragon at all ("Gingalcon" - that's "Galaxy Falcon" - in Gingaman and "Condor Galactabeast" in Lost Galaxy).
    • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder took a pterosaur mecha and referred to it as the Drago Zord. Justified, as the character is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the original Green Ranger, who piloted the Dragon Zord.
  • The Charmed (1998) episode "Little Monsters", features a species of demon called Manticores. They're more like orcs than anything, while mythical manticores are scorpion-tailed lions with human heads.

  • Radiohead's "Weeping Minotaur" mascot really looks nothing like the traditional portrayal of the Minotaur as a man with a bull's head, but more like a cartoon demon, despite the use of the Minotaur being based on the mythology of the Labyrinth. At least it was still a horned humanoid.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Sirens are often portrayed as being mermaid-like in appearance, even though they were originally closer to harpies in the myths. Several languages conflate the two names altogether. See Sirens Are Mermaids.
  • The chimera is often portrayed as being similar in body structure to Cerberus, with the goat head, lion head (which is often depicted as a male lion's head in modern media as opposed to the original female lion's head where the beast was generally considered in Greek mythology to be a female), and a dragon head all together in the front. In original Greek mythology the chimera had the body and front head of a lioness, a snake for a tail (which is still present in modern depictions), and a goat's head on its BACK at the center of the spine.

    To confuse matters even more, the term "chimera" is often used as a generic term to refer to any Mix-and-Match Critters. Not so unsurprisingly, as genetic chimerism is when an individual body is composed of cells of different genetic origin. Non-identical mammalian twin embryos may for instance fuse during early gestation, and the resulting individual is in fact their own twin, and may be half male, half female.
  • The Lobisome(m) of Galician-Portuguese folklore, despite meaning literally "wolfman", actually turns into a black dog-pig hybrid thing, and has little in common with most portrayals of the werewolf besides the fact that it is a human shapeshifter.
  • Half the things in Eastern European folklore called werewolves (some variation on "vilkodlak") are actually vampires, with little or no wolfish identity remaining. The distinctions in the lore are often fairly minor; notably, in the book, Dracula turns into a wolf (or possibly a very large dog) on several occasions.
  • See also any creature from folklore in the Americas which goes by a variant of the French word "loup-garou". E.g., the Haitian one? It's either a vampire or a witch, and it turns into a Will-o'-Wisp, not a wolf. The Cajun one can turn into a wolf, but it's usually just an invisible person—and they apply "garou"note  to any other animal shape-shifter (their folklore has people that can become cats and horses, for just two examples).
  • There is a tendency to take the most well-known variant of a mythical and/or folkloric creature and apply its name across the board, even to cultures which, by virtue of distance or time, could never have heard of it. Examples include calling any large reptilian mythical creature a "dragon" or any blood-sucking monster a "vampire".
  • Westerners have long used Western mythical names for a number of Chinese mythical creatures, even if they bear only the slightest resemblance to their supposed counterparts. Examples include calling the Fenghuang, or August Rooster, a "phoenix", even though it has no association with fire or rebirth, or the Qilin (a mythical creature with the head of a dragon and a body of tiger with scales) a "unicorn". Thanks to a Chinese Emperor, the word "Qilin," or its Japanese equivalent "Kirin", is used today as the name of the very real giraffe. The Chinese word for the creature we call a Chinese dragon is Long or Lung, and they don't exhibit many of the characteristics associated with the "original" dragons of Europe, such as breathing fire or having wings. The same applies in reverse; the Western dragon is itself called Long in Chinese.
  • There is a creature in Romanian folklore called a zmeu. It's basically an ogre, but its name is probably derived from the Slavic word for dragon.
  • There's a magical spirit in Ibero-American folklore know as Duende, a rather mischievous small creature know for being short, ugly and a trickster. For centuries, in Spanish speaking countries there wasn't a translation for words like Goblin, Troll, Elf, or Leprechaun so they were all translated as Duendes even when in some cases the comparison is rather clashing. It's falling out of use since those words are now incorporated into Spanish vocabulary, "Elves" are now translated as Elfos -Probably due the success of High Fantasy literature towards the middle of the 20th century- but Santa Claus's helpers are still known as Duendes due to the Grandfather Clause. One of the reasons while the word Elfo was created is because of the different types of elves that exist. When they are portrayed as small creatures — specially if they're ugly — that translation works, but the tall, beautiful noble Elves of books like The Lord of the Rings look like the polar opposite of Iberian Duendes.
    • In a similar way how Goblin was generally translated as "Duende" en Latin America but in Spain as "Trasgo", especially in Tolkien's works. The word Trasgo becomes more common in Latin America due to the movies. Troll is now accepted as an official Spanish word by the Royal Academy (the agency in charge of governing the language) but the correct spelling is the Latinized Trol (singular) and Troles (plural). Leprechaun still has not translation though some dubs use "Leprecón".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Age of Mythology: The tabletop version depicts The Phoenix as a fire-breathing legless dragon-like creature with membraneous wings, scaly skin and no discernable avian features aside from it's beak. This is an especially odd case, considering the original video game had a much more traditional (albeit somewhat pterosaur-like) phoenix.
  • Dragon: One article suggests that game masters use this trope in-game to screw with their players' expectations, perhaps justifying it as disinformation spread by smart monsters.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Get a drink for this one. Gorgons are a variation on the creature known as the catoblepas in more classical bestiaries. The creatures that resemble the Gorgons of Greek mythology are named medusas after the best-known Gorgon. And as if that weren't confusing enough... the catoblepas, by that name, has actually appeared in some editions of D&D. (And while — unlike the previous two — it's always fit one version or another of the catoblepas myth, it's always been notably distinct from the gorgon.)
      • The use of the name "gorgon" for a bull-like creature comes from a particular medieval bestiary, which used that name for the catoblepas as a reference to the whole "kill with a glance" thing.
      • "Gorgon" as a name for a bull-like creature used to be a case in Real Life, when the Blue Wildebeest had the scientific name Gorgon taurinus (currently it is classified as Connochaetes taurinus). The wildebeest is thought to be the real life inspiration for the catoblepas.
    • Lamia have a confusing history in the real world due to Lamia's own historically confusing mythology as either a snake woman, a hermaphroditic hag, or as a four-legged beast with a woman's head & breasts. D&D actually traditionally uses a blend of the first and third options; the standard Lamia is a woman's upper torso with the body of a "beast" from the waist down — although the artwork traditionally depicts it as a lion, an Ecology article for the race in Dragon Magazine claims they also resemble goats, deer and antelopes — whilst there also exists a "Noble Lamia" that resembles the more iconic snake-person version, although lack of artwork for it in 2nd edition and the fact it wasn't converted until the "Expedition to the Demonweb Pits" adventure in 3rd edition has kept it obscure. The aforementioned Ecology article even brings in the second option, stating that whilst Noble Lamais are either male or female, Common Lamias are all hermaphroditic, with the upper torso of a woman but both male and female genitalia on their bestial incarnation. In 4th edition, however, the Lamia was changed to a swarming species of fey carnivorous beetle with a Hive Mind that hollows out the skin of its victims and wears it as a disguise to secure more prey.
    • D&D has had Baku since 1st Edition, but other than having an elephant's head and trunk, these creatures had nothing to do with the Dream Stealer of legend — instead, they were denoted by having Psychic Powers and dwelling in the Upper Planes. So when the Asia-themed supplement Oriental Adventures was released, the result was a separate entry for a dream-walking, trunked spirit, which was dubbed "shirokinukatsukami," which might be an attempt at saying "white silk spirit" or "bedsheet spirit."
    • D&D started the trope of lumping all creatures that fit the label of "humanoid creature made of nonliving material and animated by magic" under the category of "Golem." The clay golem is clearly derived from the Golem of Prague, even down to being created by clerics rather than wizards, but the stone golem is a Living Statue, the iron golem is inspired by Talos in Jason and the Argonauts, and the flesh golem is a straight rip of the Creature in Frankenstein. Funnily, in the earliest listings of golems, it was just the stone, iron, and flesh golems; the clay golem showed up a bit later.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Innistrad blocks feature "Griffins" that look an awful lot like hippogriffs... which is particularly confusing since "Hippogriff" is a separate creature type in the preceding Scars of Mirrodin block. On Innistrad, the Hippogriff creature type is still used... but for the gryffs, creatures resembling pegasi with the heads and tails of herons more than anything else.
    • Mercadian Masques also features some decidedly odd trollsnote  and satyrs. And then there're the Ravnican Nephilim which... don't resemble anything, much less Biblical giants. It's possible that they're a reference the "Angels" of Evangelion, which in turn is also an example.
    • The French edition of the game has something of an ambiguous example born of a translation mixup: the Wurm creature type, which encompasses enormous serpentine or wormlike monsters, is called "guivre" in the French translation. The ambiguity comes from the fact that "guivre" can refer to two things in French: on the one hand, it can refer to the original interpretation in Western tradition of dragons as limbless, serpentine monsters not far off from the game’s version (this was the type found in Greco-Roman myth, and also what the English term "wyrm" — pronounced "worm" — originally referred to). On the other hand, it can also mean wyvern — that is, a birdlike, bipedal bat-winged dragon more like M:tG's drake creature type than anything else.
    • The Hyalopterous Lemure borrows the name of the lemure, a shade of the dead in Roman myth, and attaches it to a lemur, a small, fuzzy animal that climbs trees. This is generally believed to be an artistic miscommunication that the game didn't have time to fix that far back; Time Spiral block even made a joke at its expense.
    • While most of Magic's Krakens are at least sea creatures, some of them stray away from the "giant squid" aesthetic that most Krakens have. Shipbreaker Kraken and Hullbreaker Horror have more of a crustachean aesthetic than a cephalopodal one (with Charix, the Raging Isle bringing the same Giant Enemy Crab aesthetic to the Leviathan subtype), Krothuss, Lord of the Deep and Wrexial, the Risen Deep look less like traditional cephalopods and more like Cthulhu,Scourge of Fleets looks like a monstrous whale, and Tidal Kraken has no tentacles and is really buff for some reason.
  • RuneQuest: In a literal version of this, hippogriffs — and their mythical progenitor, Hippogriff — resemble pegasi with bird claws instead of front hooves more than anything else.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Might be the case with the The Winged Dragon of Ra card. It looks more like a toothed griffin than a dragon.

  • One of the songs from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Sadko had a visitor from India describe the wonders of his land, including The Phoenix. Except the description he gives is that of a creature named Sirin; that is, the Siren.

  • Zoids doesn't even seem to care, considering robot triceratops with sharp pointy teeth are Rule of Cool, but to writ: the Liger series of Zoids are referred to as "lion type" and several four-legged-and-winged dragons are "wyvern type"note . For that matter, whether Godzilla-esque or more like a giant monitor lizard, any big reptile Zoid made before 2000 will be called "Tyrannosaurus type".

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Large predatory cats with bat wings and scorpion stingers. They are called manti... no, they are called wyverns. Whether this is a mistake or an attempt to establish a distinct bestiary is unknown; however, they're also frequently called "wind riders", perhaps to prevent some confusion with the odd choice of name.
    • Winged Dragons without forelegs are called Chimeras, even though they fit the Wyvern definition more so than the actual wyverns.
    • World of Warcraft also has what most people would call "wyverns" — bipedal, non-intelligent dragons. They are called "proto-drakes", and as the "proto" implies, they are the precursor to regular dragons, which were bred from proto-drakes by the Titans via genetic engineering and magic.
    • Hippogryphs in the Warcraft universe look like raven-stags instead of eagle-horses and are often green, making them more resemble the semi-mythological peryton (actually a fairly recent creation, by Jorge Luis Borges). The main reason for this is likely that hippogryphs are the official flying mounts of the night elves, while the rest of the Alliance already use regular gryphons as their flying mounts, so the hippogryph designs were meant to both strongly differentiate the two and to better fit the night elves that use them.
    • Dryads are a centauroid hybrid of a night elf woman and a deer, not tree spirits (these are known as wisps). Dryads are also the primary name for the creature, with nymphs being an offshoot of them rather than the other way around.
    • Kraken and Leviathan have entirely interchangeable names with each other, meaning that you can find giant octopi called Leviathans and huge fish-like sea monsters called Krakens, as well as vice-versa.
    • The game has wendigos, but rather than cannibalistic men-turned-monsters, it seems to just be an interchangeable term for yeti.
    • Mists of Pandaria introduced Quilen to the game, but they don't resemble their namesake at all. They are instead based on shishi, Chinese guardian lions. On top of that, they're described as dogs and use a souped-up wolf skillset when tamed as a pet. A proper qilin was also added, but as a mount with an unnamed species. It wouldn't be until Shadowlands that those would be christened cloudstriders.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow:
    • The Basilisk and Cockatrice are essentially palette swaps of each other, although they are completely separate critters. Most of the time.
    • The gorgon/catoblepas issue is also present in Aria. Likewise, one of the most iconic Goddamn Bats of the entire series is the Medusa Head, which is very different from the other gorgons in the game.
    • Tentacled face, clawed hands/feet, reptile like body, narrow wings from the back? Yup, sounds like Cthulh- oh wait it's Malachi. Then what's Cthulhu? Oh, it's a devil.
    • Lilith? The ancient female demon, first wife of Adam? Nope, it's just a lesser succubus.
  • City of Heroes: The Kraken is a giant blob monster that walks on two legs and is a member of the villain group, the Hydra, which are all human-sized blobs. Except the Hydra, which is another humongous blob with tentacles that stretch all over the city. None of which ought to be confused with Lusca, the giant octopus which terrorizes Independence Port.
  • Monster Hunter: In a inversion of Dinosaurs Are Dragons, the series refers to its dinosaur-like monsters as Wyverns just like the actual ones. The sub-type "Bird Wyvern" is basically a pulp movie raptor ranging in size from a leopard to a cargo container, while "Brute Wyverns" are small (for a given value of "small") armor-plated tyrannosaurs. True Bird Wyverns are actual birds with some reptilian traits. The third generation mixed it up even further with the addition of the Fanged Wyvern (basically a wolf with dragon scales) Zinogre and a type of Brute Wyvern that actually has usable forelimbs.
  • Fallout has Centaurs, mutated creatures which look like... Well, see for yourself. Though, given the setting, the characters probably just named the new monsters after the mythological creature that shared their basic body shape. The dev team certainly did.
  • Final Fantasy: Quite common throughout the series. The general need of the series to name all of its palette swapped monsters has often led to creatures of one sort getting the name of something altogether different.
    • Many gods and creatures have been portrayed as European-style dragons at some point. Bahamut, a gigantic fish that carries the world in Arabian myth, is almost always a winged dragon in the games, most likely influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, where the name Bahamut is used for one of the two major dragon deities.
    • Catoblepas has varied game to game from a Basilisk recolor to a Behemoth recolor, and Cockatrices have been represented as birds, lizards, and serpents.
    • Treants, creatures resembling walking trees, have a recurring recolor called the Triffid. In The Day of the Triffids, the titular creatures are fairly clearly mobile pitcher plants.
    • Final Fantasy: The "sphinxes" are very clearly recolored manticores.
    • Final Fantasy X: The French version calls Aeons Chimeras, which presents a problem when a bull, eagle and wolf-headed monster shows up... or not, since they call it a chimaira.
  • Pokémon has several Dragon-type Pokémon that look absolutely un-dragonlike, as well as Pokemon that look like dragons but aren't Dragon types.
    • Altaria resembles a giant bird. It's meant to be a Peng (huge dragon-like bird) from Chinese Mythology.
    • Flygon looks very insectlike despite being part Ground-type, being that it's an adult antlion, which look like dragonflies and have the nickname "sand dragon", so Flygon's Dragon typing is a pun. Vibrava, which evolves into Flygon and shares its Dragon typing, is even more insectoid.
    • Charizard, despite its draconic appearance, isn't a Dragon-type at all, but a Fire/Flying-type, though it is in the Dragon egg group. This is only made weirder in some languages where its name is based on the word "Dragon", such as "Dracofeu" in French. In Generation VI, Charizard finally gets its Dragon-type...with one of its Mega Evolutions.
    • Gyarados, despite being the poster boy for Dragon Rage, isn't a Dragon-type either. This one has a bit of Fridge Brilliance to it, as the legend that Gyarados is based on has a carp climb a waterfall and be rewarded by the gods for its hard work be by being transformed into a dragon, but then later having the title of dragon stripped from it after it let its accomplishment go to its head and lead it on a destructive rampage. Also, it was called Skullkraken in the English version, before its name was changed to match the Japanese version. It doesn't look remotely like a cephalopod.
    • Kingdra is based on a creature called a weedy sea dragon. Goomy is a dragon-type slug, probably based on the Blue Dragon sea slugs. Dialga isn't much like a dragon, though Palkia has more similarity to the European dragon, and Giratina's Origin Forme bears its resemblance to the Chinese dragon. Really, considering that most of the types don't refer to specific lifeforms (dragon being joined by bug and ghost in doing so), it's not surprising.
  • The Legend of Zelda seems to do this in-universe, with several very disparate creatures sharing the same name (in the original Japanese, at least). Apparently any small masked critter is a 'hiploop' and any large masked one is a 'zeeclock' whether insectoid, reptilian, or avian.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In Cornish folklore, a Spriggan is a kind of goblin with Sizeshifter powers. In the series, they are a hostile tree-like Plant People race with a Gaia's Vengeance tilt, more akin to violent dryads.
  • God of War: Liberties are taken in the depiction of Greek myth's monsters mainly for the sake of Rule of Cool.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Monsters are pretty much supposed to be exactly as humans know them. This is because they are mythological archetypes born out of humanity's collective consciousness, and as such the descriptions of their nature are more or less accurate, although the context in which you fight or recruit them is often not, because of the different mythologies forced to coexist. Also, the visual style of the series results in some monsters being noticeably different from the original mold. Most egregious are most versions of Cerberus, which looks like a snake-tailed albino lion rather than a three-headed canine (although the three-headed Cerberus was used in Persona 3 as Team Pet Koromaru's persona). This stems from the novels the series was based on, which portrayed Cerberos as having only one head.
  • EarthBound (1994): The Kraken, while being a giant sea creature that attacks ships, only resembles a kraken as far as that. It looks less like a giant multi-tentacled cephalopod and more like a giant green eel with a head that looks like a green Pacman with a bloody mouth and fangs and fire coming out of it, and a dimpled smile.
  • Fire Emblem has the problem with giving Wyverns four legs, though it often switches between the two. One time, even in the same game, as in Sacred Stones, promoting a Wyvern Rider into a Wyvern Knight seems to result in the Wyvern losing its front limbs and thus resembling a true Wyvern. The remakes of the first and third games changes it so domesticated Wyverns have four legs and wild wyverns have two. Part of this is because the Japanese version refers to them as "hiryu", which basically means "wind dragon"—"wyvern" is an attempt at a less clunky-sounding Cultural Translation. The Sacred Stones Wyvern Knight is one of the few times that the term "wyvern" actually does show up in the Japanese version.
  • In the original localizations of the first three Dragon Quest games, "Wyverns" have a serpentine body, a vulture's head, and feathered wings, while in the fourth game they look like a cross between a T-Rex and a pterosaur. To twist the knife further, the Japanese series has called the vulture-serpent hybrids "Chimaeras" since the beginning, which carried over to later localizations.
  • Gradius IV's first boss is ostensibly a Hydra, but is called Yorogaton Chimera in the manual.
  • Terraria: Despite having a distinctly Western name, the Wyvern is an Eastern-style dragon.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III:
    • The game is generally a straightforward Fantasy Kitchen Sink, but for some reason the tree people are called "dendroids" (Dendroid being a rarely-used word that means "tree-shaped"). Later installments switched to calling them the more common "treants".
    • Like Dungeons & Dragons, medusa and gorgon are split into two creatures, with gorgons being scaly bulls modelled after catoblepas. This was also dropped after III.
    • The Horn of the Abyss Game Mod introduces Nix as one of the Cove faction's units. Nix in folklore are an aquatic form of The Fair Folk, while in this game they're hulking Lizard Folk that resemble crocodiles.
  • The English translation of Faxanadu generically calls the enemies "Dwarves", despite none of them really looking like the typical dwarves, for example the first boss that looks like the classic bat-winged demon.
  • In Harvest Town, Ello the fairy and Barl the kappa are referred to "elves" in-game.
  • In most folklore and mythology, imps are described as small and mischievous creatures that look like classical devils. In Doom, the Imp is a creature the size and shape of a muscular man, with brown spiky skin and a penchant for charging in and tossing fireballs—the only thing they have in common with most people's idea of an imp is that they are very weak by demonic standards. Even the manual jokingly points this out.
    You thought an imp was a cute little dude in a red suit with a pitchfork. Where did these brown bastards come from?
  • ULTRAKILL: A Cerberus in this game is not a three-headed dog, but a strange species of Living Statue with an orb of infernal energy it can (repeatedly) throw like a highly-explosive dodgeball, and indistinguishable from a simple decorative statue until it wakes up. The in-game lore entries state they were given this name because they're the guardians of Hell, complete with two of them at Hell's gates.

    Visual Novels 
  • Mononoke Kiss suffers from this. It's an Otome Game wherein the player may romance different Youkai, but the word is translated as "spirit" or "demon" in the story. Each character's species has an individual example:
    • Enojo the Kitsune is called a "humanoid fox."
    • Raizo the Nue is called a "humanoid beast," and the only clue to his actual Youkai type is his description ("A hybrid of a monkey, tiger and snake"—i.e. a Nue).
    • Hikobane the Tengu is called a "demon crow," described as "A creature in a monk outfit, which has a beaked face and black wings that give him the ability to fly." As with Raizo above, it describes the actual type of Youkai (a Tengu in this case) exactly.
    • Ryuzaburo is a variation on this, being called a "water dragon," which is simply the English translation for the type of Youkai in question (Mizuchi).

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck
    • Liches are much more comparable to gargoyles (though the wings are not part of the monster design; they come from the prototyped crow).
    • While we're at it, the trolls are are a race of Cute Monster People whose infant forms are reminiscent of insects and whose life cycle and physiology is just a tad strange. While not a full example — myths about trolls rarely agree on anything — the Homestuck depiction was intended to be rooted more in the idea of internet trolls (that's all the characters were before Andrew Hussie decided to make them relevant to the plot), and as such are certainly divorced from the traditional brutish, man-eating monsters that live under bridges.
    • Then Cherubs show up, and needless to say, the don't resemble Classical Cherubs in anything but name.
    • Somewhat averted with the leprechauns, which are in fact green in both skin tone and outfits and even have a self-parody of the troll romance system involving lucky charm shapes in sectors instead of quadrants with playing card suits in them. However, all of the leprechauns resemble fully shaven younger men and vary in both height and girth.
  • Modest Medusa's species is referred to as "the hydra" by the Prince of Yeld. Modest's mother's name is Gorgon, and her daughters all call themselves Medusa until they decide that's too confusing. They're mostly just the author's own invention.

    Web Original 
  • Mermaids in Neopets are called Water Faeries.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The term "alicorn" to describe the Winged Unicorn, which later became Ascended Fanon. The term Alicorn usually refers to the theoretical substance of a Unicorn's horn, barring the fact there were already fan terms in play from previous generations such a "unipeg" and "pegicorn". The Other Wiki traces the usage of "alicorn" to mean "winged unicorn" back to a book by Piers Anthony, originally written in 1984.
      • The book in question is Bearing an Hourglass, the second book in the Incarnations of Immortality series. Anthony maintains that he saw "alicorn" in a fantasy magazine in reference to a figurine of a winged unicorn, and had never seen the word before. Bearing an Hourglass was translated into many other languages which simply kept "alicorn" as is, and it was brought back into English with this new definition sometime between then and Friendship is Magic, at which point probably no one still alive had ever heard of the word in its original definition either. That said, the fact that modern unicorns almost always have spiraled horns is most likely a cheeky reference to the fact that spiraled narwhal tusks were the most common item for swindlers to pass off as unicorn horns / alicorn.
    • The Windigos are named after the cannibal monsters in Algonquin religion, but are actually equine frost spirits that feed on hatred and bring Endless Winter. Wendigos are, however, associated with wintertime starvation, so there is at least a tenuous connection to the original.
    • The Tatzlwurm from "Three's a Crowd" is most reminiscent of the Graboids from Tremors. It looks nothing like the creature from Swiss Alpine mythology, which has the head or front half of a cat and the hind half of a snake, and is usually described as ranging in size from a foot long to somewhat longer than a man is tall, in contrast with episode's enormous monster.
    • The second half of "School Daze" sees the students being attacked by a group of pukwudgies, creatures from the folklore of the Delaware and Wampanoag people of the American East Coast. They're generally described as humanoid little people of the woods, not unlike European myths of kobolds and wood-fairies, intelligent and fond of playing cruel pranks on humans and shooting them with poisoned arrows. The episode's pukwudgies are essentially long-tailed, pastel-colored hedgehogs that stand on their hind legs in a manner like a kangaroo's and behave more like territorial, rabid animals than anything else. They are also Spike Shooters who attack by launching volleys of their own quills, which might be intended as a link to the the mythological pukwudgies' archery. This may have been done because there are no humans in the world of Friendship is Magic, and this extends to semi-human mythical creatures (for example, the show's manticores and sphinxes have the faces of lions and ponies, respectively, rather than those of humans)
      • It's possible the G4 Pukwudgies may have been modeled after G1's Bushwoolies but redesigned or renamed due to the trademarks expiring.
  • The animated adaptation of Little Bear occasionally featured mischievous creatures called Goblins. But rather than being the traditional green skinned monsters, they were portrayed as little bearded men with pointed hats, essentially being Gnomes in all but name. This was possibly applied to make their appearance more family friendly.
  • The Leviathans in Ninjago are large, octopus-like creatures that more closely resemble the Kraken, rather than the biblical Leviathan's typical depiction as a sea serpent.
  • SWAT Kats:
  • The giant that The Queen Of Fables sends after the gang in the Harley Quinn (2019) episode, Devil's Snare has one eye but is only ever called a giant rather than a cyclops.

Alternative Title(s): Call A Pegasus A Hippogryph, Our Monsters By Any Other Name