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Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp"
aka: Calling A Rabbit A Smeerp

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Because Energizer is for cowards.

Superintendant Gary Chalmers: You call hamburgers "steamed hams"?
Principal Seymour Skinner: Yes! It's a regional dialect!
Chalmers: Uh-huh. What region?
Skinner: Uh... Upstate New York.
Chalmers: Really? Well I'm from Utica and I've never heard anyone use the phrase "steamed hams".
Skinner: Oh, not in Utica, no. It's an Albany expression.
The Simpsons, "22 Short Films About Springfield"note 

We're in space, so regular old Earth flora and fauna just won't do. Solution: Introduce creatures (or sports, or political institutions, or dishes, etc.) that are just like familiar Earth concepts that the audience will recognize but IN SPACE, and give them funny names.

Older and more retro series will forgo the funny names entirely and call everything "Space this" and "Galactic that".

This trope may be the result of Translation Convention. If the viewpoint characters in the work encounter a lifeform that's new to them, but already familiar to an alien culture, the alien culture will probably have their own word for it, and there's no reason for that to match the common real-world name of the thing. However, in monocultural stories, it's much easier to overuse this trope (in this case, calling it a "space rabbit" might even be more realistic in colloquial speech, by analogy with things like "sea cow").

Although using such proprietary terminology can give a work its own flavor, keep in mind that Tropes Are Tools; having too much such terminology can make a work feel pretentious or too confusing to follow.

Compare You Mean "Xmas", Future Slang, You Are the Translated Foreign Word, Not Using the "Z" Word, Magic by Any Other Name, and Uncoffee. See also Space "X", Fantastic Fauna Counterpart, Horse of a Different Color, Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp", Flintstone Theming, Hold Your Hippogriffs, Smurfing and Humans by Any Other Name. Contrast Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit", Capital Letters Are Magic.

Subtrope of Fictionary.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Blue Ramun, the magically curative blue blood of the Blue Ramun tribespeople is called "ramun".
  • Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: The small rodents with fluffy tails that bury seed stashes aren't squirrels, they're "seed rats."
  • In Gundam's Universal Century and Ad Stella timelines, spacesuits have been renamed "normal suits". In After Colony, they're called "astrosuits". This to avoid confusion with "mobile suits".
  • High School Of The Dead refuses to call the zombies "zombies". Instead, they use "Them" and went out of its way to imply they're two different things.
  • The super robots in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu are only ever referred to as "Giants of Fire".
  • Magic Knight Rayearth uses non-Japanese and non-English words as titles for important people in Cephiro. "Pharle" means Ultimate Blacksmith, "Palu" means Summoner, and "High Priest Zagato" gets retconned into "Sol Zagato" in the sequel to emphasize the small but significant detail of the title Magic Knight being in English.
  • Superpowers are rarely called anything more obtuse than "powers" or "abilities", but the people of My Hero Academia call them "quirks". This is, in part, a Woolseyism — in Japanese, the word used translates more like "individuality", which doesn't really roll off the tongue. Before the term "quirk" took off, they were known as "meta-abilities". "Quirk" came into common usage after the mother of a child with a meta-ability, at a time when such children were rare and considered strange and frightening, described his powers as simply being a quirk of his, reframing them as just another aspect of his personhood rather than his defining characteristic. Her tolerance got her murdered, but when meta-abilities became commonplace and the world adjusted to their existence, the Japanese government codified the word "quirk" in new laws regulating their usage.
  • In-Universe example in One Piece regarding Haki, a mysterious power that can allow any living thing to use its spiritual energy, but between its rarity to awaken it and difficulty to master, it is most prominent in the New World and among the strongest of pirates and marines. However, it goes by different names in certain islands because they are for the most part isolated from the rest of the world. The people of the Sky Islands refer to the Observation aspect of Haki as Mantra, or "mind rope" and was the first experience of Observation Haki for the Straw Hats. In Wano Country the Armament aspect is called Ryuo, or "flowing sakura", though their practice involves channeling their offensive willpower outward.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Starting with Unova, the English dub refers to all fruits as "berries". This was likely done to be in-line with the games, where the only fruit shown until Pokémon Sword and Shield were berries. Even when they're blatantly eating apples (and they're called apples in the Japanese version), they're referred to as "berries". They also have a tendency to not refer to vegetables by name but, instead of a fictional or unusual name, they just call them "veggies".
    • The Elizabethan Collar is referred to as the "Heliolisk Collar". Helliolisk are lizard Pokémon with frills. Justified because there likely was no Elizabethan period in the Pokéverse.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Subverted. In-universe, magical girls are called... magical girls. Not "puella magi." The Gratuitous Latin is just for the title. It's also revealed to be Foreshadowing of their intended fate; if Witches are magical women, what else do you call a child who will grow into a witch?
  • In Restaurant to Another World, a young Tenshu and his grandfather sold an Emperor a bag of Potatoes so he could make his favorite dish: Croquettes, whenever he felt like it. Due to the fact that the Potato crop wasn't at all native to the fantasy world, the "Cobblers' Tubers" had a major impact when they helped the Emperor to end a famine affecting his Empire. But if you ask Tenshu about it; he'll say it was just another Saturday.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain, the internet is referred to as "the Wired" and computers are "navi".
  • In Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy, dandelion puffs are called wishing puffs in the English dub of the show. This is unique to the English version however, the Japanese originals still call them "dandelions".
  • In Yuki Yuna is a Hero, government-assigned Magical Girls are referred to as "Heroes".

    Comic Books 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Season 8 story arc crosses over with Fray, in which vampires are "lurks, a spin is a lie, toy is bad, but spled is good."
  • Captain Marvel: The Death of Captain Marvel shows different terms for the same illness:
    It's a terrible disease. We on Titan, call it the "inner decay". You Kree have named it the "blackend". Earthmen call it "cancer".
  • The Swedish comic-book series "Det nya folket" takes place during the stone age and depicts the conflict between the Neanderthals and the new Cro-Magnon humans. The latter refer to the Neanderthals as "trolls" while the former call the Cro-Magnon "almost-humans".
  • ElfQuest: The setting has such creatures as "zwoots" (a kind of humped horse-camel hybrid) and in contrast to them, "no-humps" (better known to the reader as "horses"). Most of the planet's other flora and fauna closely resemble Earth's, except as the plot demands. The Final Quest arc exploits this more than the other Arcs, because the Elves use the Palace ship more frequently, while the Humans develop firearms. Thus: "Star Travel" for Space travel, "Pellets" for bullets, while a "pod" still is a pod, like in ordinary Real Life Space travel. Skywise even refers to the invention of Palace pods with Reference to "seed pods", used by certain plants to spread their seeds.
  • Rat Queens: The "Hippy Hobbit Thief" Betty is consistently referred to as a "Smidgen" in the books themselves.
  • Superman: Superman's iconic "S" shield isn't just an ordinary "S" — it's actually the crest of his Kryptonian family, House of El (at least since Superman: Birthright's retcon — previously it was just an 'S', unless it was a symbol on a magic sword Pa Kent saw in a dream or a Native American snake symbol).
  • Swordquest: In Waterworld Torr is drowning and refers to being trapped "in Davijoen's Locker."
  • White Sand: The Darksiders call dynamite "zinkallin".
  • Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed: The Amazons refer to Diana's birthday as her "born day".
  • Xenozoic Tales: The comic takes place in a future where a cataclysm has both destroyed most of human civilization and brought the dinosaurs back to life. The survivors, having no record of the dinosaurs' actual names, have come up with their own names for them, such as "Shivat" and "Rock-Hopper".

    Fan Works 
  • The Legend of Genji:
    • Comic books were invented by Varrick, who calls them "comicals".
    • Color TVs are called "colorsets" in-universe.
  • Mass Effect: Clash of Civilizations: Thessia has animals called Shias that the asari keep as pets, and are the only thing on the entire planet that genetically match them. In this setting, the asari are actually a sub-species of humans and shias are dogs.
  • Medicated: Since nobody in Amphibia knows what humans are called, the girls' true forms are usually called "monsters".
  • A Thing of Vikings: It is at least strongly suggested that other dragons think of Night Furies as 'Nightscreamers'.
  • "Sphinxes and Astrea Portas" opens with SG-1 visiting a world where the human population live in harmony with 'sphinxes', and it's only after meeting David Xanatos and Dominique Destine that the SGC learn that sphinxes were originally known on Earth as 'Gargoyles'.
  • Invoked in the Star Trek: Voyager/Stargate Universe crossover "Destiny and Voyager: Crossroads", when the two crews decide to analyse the Ancient database by downloading a detailed knowledge of the Ancient language into the Doctor's holographic matrix. With this new insight, the Doctor is able to study the database and identify basically every disease the Ancient have found a cure for. It's noted that in many cases these diseases obviously went by a different name to what they are called by humans, but the Doctor's new linguistic knowledge allows him to analyse the recorded symptoms of each disease and from that determine the name in English.
  • The Warriors of the World trilogy tends to zigzag depending on the animal in question. A Creamy is referred to as to exactly what it is (a large butterfly); same with the Lunatic (a fluffy, if large, rabbit). However, a Tarou (a large white rat) stays a Tarou, and so does a Familiar (a vampire bat).
  • Maria Campbell of the Astral Clocktower:
    • Maria is on the team that discovers ABO blood typing, which she names Sword, Shield, Armed, or Bared type blood. When the others complain that these names make little sense, their boss snaps that since Maria was the one actually taking notes while everyone else was fighting like children, they're using her names. And then calls it "Campbell-typing" just to make sure Maria gets full credit.
    • The fireworks that Maria invents while working on gunpowder are called nightflowers.
    • When Maria commissions guns, she calls them "gerhmans" after her mentor.
  • The Lion, The Witch, and The Fairy's Tail: Lucy and the others refer to the portal into the other world of Narnia as an Anima. Justified as the story takes place after the Edolas arc, and Anima was the term for the portals between Earthland and Edolas.
  • Rocketship Voyager: Justified. What we would call "computers" are referred to as "electronic minds", but this version of "Voyager" is so low-tech that "computer" retains its original meaning, i.e. a person who does mathematical computation.
  • And the Giant Awoke: Hallyne struggles to find an adequate name for the stuff he isolated from seaweed (iodine), as he can't keep calling it "the purple substance" – he feels it's too close to "the substance", the pyromancers' name for wildfire. Ranulf suggests "the Drowned God's Wine", which is found suitable and it's eventually shortened to "Godswine".
  • The Boys: Real Justice: Frenchie is thrown to learn that the term for someone with superpowers in the new Earth is 'meta' (as in metahuman) rather than 'super' (as in super-abled).
  • All For Luz: Luz is confused to learn that the term for someone with superpowers in All For One's world is "Quirk user", rather than the more generic term "superhuman" in her world, not understanding why they're called that. The supervillain is amused by the culture shock.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars: Forklifts are referred as "pitties" because, in the first film, they all served as the pit crews for the racecars.
  • The Land Before Time series has used this trope a lot with the dinosaurs. Some talents on the first film explained the simplistic names as an effort at authenticity: dinosaurs 65,000,000 years ago would have no way of knowing modern terms and scientific names. Therefore, everything has incredibly simplistic names, such as "spike tail" for stegosaurus. On the one hand, if you saw one of those animals every day, you'd want to come up with a word for them that's easier on the tongue than the long words that scientists come up with. Also kids often have a hard time remembering words like "tyrannosaurus" and "stegosaurus". Therefore, everything has incredibly simplistic names. They even have a word for the sun, "great circle" They actually refer to one species as "rainbow faces," despite the fact that they call rain "sky-water." The later sequels occasionally used the word "saurus" as if everybody knew what it meant. Also, they still refer to themselves collectively as "dinosaurs". Ozzy the Egg-Stealer in the second film averts this entirely, outright identifying himself as a Struthiomimus in his Villain Song.
  • Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole has barn owls being called Tytos, their Latin name, instead of barn owls. It could be because there are no barns in the movie, whereas there are ruins of barns and churches in the books.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has elephants, weasels, and jaguars called Heffalumps, Woozles, and Jagulars. The first two are based on how the real Christopher Robin pronounced the animals' names. Jagulars haven't been seen in the franchise at all.
  • The LEGO Movie: Lord Business has a collection of mystical relics that are really just mundane human items from the perspective of 1.5 inch tall minifigures. Among them are the Cloak of Ban Da'id (a band-aid), The Sword of Exact-Zero (an X-acto knife), and the Scepter of Q-Teep (a q-tip).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Satirized in Amazon Women on the Moon, in which the Amazon women speak English but inexplicably have a different word for "year".
  • Captain Marvel: The alien characters all call Goose the tabby cat a "Flerken", and find the idea that the heroes keep a "Flerken" as a Team Pet downright horrifying. Subverted when it turns out they're right. Flerkens and cats are two different species, and Goose is the former — hidden Combat Tentacles and Stomach of Holding included.
  • The Coneheads' speech is a heavy mixture of this and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra has two aliens from Marva. They have "cranberroids" instead of cranberries, and "linbooba" instead of cherries. Picnics are called "cooty-lana".
  • Man of Steel:
    Lois: What's the "S" stand for?
    Clark: It's not an "S". On my world, it means "hope".
    Lois: Well, here, it's... an S.
  • 1927 quasi-documentary silent film Chang documents life among the Lao people in northeast Thailand. "Chang" is not a person's name. All of the "dialogue" given in title cards is in English, except for the one word Chang—a farmer reports that a Chang has trampled his rice paddy, and the villagers set a trap to catch the Chang. It turns out that chang is the Thai word for "elephant".
  • The My Favorite Martian movie has the "electron accelerator", which is nothing but Technobabble for a car's alternator.
  • Patriots Day: The police are questioning a man, Harrold, who has a large bleeding gash on his head, which he claims came after he was hit on the head with a "smoothie"
    Tommy Saunders: What are you talking, like a drink, or something?
    Harrold: No, like a fucking smoothie, you know, like you would smooth your clothes out with.
    Tommy Saunders: An iron?
  • Spaceballs: "He just took two hundred and forty-eight Space Bucks for lunch, gas, and tolls!"
  • Star Wars:
    • Dice are called "chance cubes" (although actual dice with pips instead of colors have appeared and gone by "dice" in the EU), guns, as in kinetic firearms, are called "Slugthrowers", etc.
    • The Star Wars Expanded Universe is a grab bag of names — looking at alcoholic drinks alone, there's lomin-ale, Corellian Whiskey (with brands like Whyren's Reserve), lum, juri juice, a Walk in the Phelopean Forest (even the bartender doesn't know what's with the name), Savareen Brandy, and a lot more. There are occasional subversions; a duck is still a duck, for example.
    • Solo even lampshades the trope:
      Solo: Beckett, you see them? They still on us? Beckett, did you hear me? Are they on us?
      Beckett: Like rashnold on a kalak.
      Solo: I don't know what that means.
      Beckett: Like a gingleson's pelt.
      Solo: What!? Are they or aren't they!?
      Beckett: Yes, they're still on us!
  • Kevin Smith once said in an interview on his having written for Superman that studio executives asked him to call the Giant Spider demanded by the producer, Jon Peters, something other than a spider. He suggested Thanagarian Snarebeast (Thanagar being Hawkman's home planet), and they told him to go with it.
  • In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the last scene has character(s) (When you roll with David Lynch, the pluralization can be confusing) telling BOB that they want... "Garmonbozia", which the subtitles helpfully suffix with "(pain and suffering)". It manifests itself as... creamed corn.
  • In the Underworld series, the sworn enemies of the vampires are not werewolves, they're Lycans (though Selene does call them werewolves in the first film when telling Michael about the centuries-old conflict that he has just found himself in the middle of). Justified in the sequel and the prequel, which both feature first-generation werewolves that are related to Lycans, but do have a few key differences. First-generation werewolves retain very little, if any, of their original human minds, have longer snouts and are covered nearly head-to-toe with fur in their wolf forms, and are permanently stuck in their wolf forms, unable to ever revert back to human form. Lycans, on the other hand, retain all of their original human minds, have shorter snouts and very little fur in their wolf forms, and are able to shift back and forth between wolf and human forms at will. Or it could simply be short for lycanthrope, from the greek wolf-man. The commentary track for the first film actually admits that "lycan" is a contraction of "lycanthrope," and that they used it because they thought "werewolf" would sound cheesy. As opposed to "vampire," which lends it that touch of classic elegance.
  • Willow: Nelwyns (Willow's people) call humans "Daikini."

  • In The Adventures of Stefón Rudel, female breasts are regularly called "Brötchen" ("rolls") by the title character.
  • In the Agent of Byzantium Alternate History short stories by Harry Turtledove, there are several examples due to things being discovered earlier and by different people. For example, gunpowder is "hellpowder" because it was first used for creating explosions by sappers dressed in devilish costumes rather than propelling cannonballs, the printing press makes "archetypes", and brandy is yperoinos (Greek for "superwine") as it was distilled from wine.
  • Neal Stephenson's Anathem both uses and inverts this trope. Devices that are obviously cell phones and video cameras respectively are called "jeejahs" and "speelycaptors", but vegetables and animals of the alien planet on which the novel is set are named for their closest Earth equivalent and Earth Anglo units (feet, miles) are used. Inversions include names like 'fraa', which is reference to what monks calling each other brother say in Latin, but distorted to remind you that's where the name 'Friar' comes from too. In this case it's like calling a rabbit a Lapidine sclerodont, or a spade a schopfel.
  • According to The Areas of My Expertise, the word "lobster" used to refer to a type of East Coast sea otter (referred to as the Furry Old Lobster) before it was driven to extinction by the New Lobster. Also, during the '20s, "gorilla" was a slang term for a tough guy (this one is actually true), and "mega-chimp" was a slang term for an actual gorilla (this one isn't true).
  • In The Armadillo with No Heart, all characters are anthropomorphic animals, with the two species that appear in the story (armadillos and hedgehogs) being named, respectively, Dillos and Spinehogs.
  • L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth prefers odd hyphenated versions of common words; e.g. "man-animal", "picto-camera", "skull-bone".
  • Bazil Broketail: When an expeditionary force consisting of Argonath and its allies travels through the ancient jungle on Eigo on their way to the Kraheen empire, they come under frequent attacks from aggressive local fauna, which was quite obviously based on real-world dinosaurs and terror birds. In-universe, though, they are called "pujish" by Ardu and "kebbolds" by people of Mirchaz. Their similarity to dragons does not go without a lampshade, though dragons themselves — after initial fascination wears off — are usually offended by suggestion that they may share common ancestors with such wild and vile beasts.
    Bazil: [after being called "kebbold" one time too many] For the ancestors' fiery breath, I am not a kebbold more than you are a monkey!
  • The Belgariad by David Eddings avoids this for the most part, which makes it difficult to say whether or not he actually is doing it. The protagonists encounter "rock wolves", which might be hyenas, or might simply be hyena-like monsters (vaguely wolfish, humped backs, hooting laugh). Since Garion does not know what a hyena is, he cannot contrast any differences the rock wolves might have.
  • In Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician Trilogy and The Age of the Five, she renames everything to the point of needing a glossary in the back of every book. She justifies this in an interview by saying that coming across the word 'sheep' during a fantasy novel can kinda spoil things. Amusingly, horses are still horses (at least in the Black Magician universe).
  • In The Book of the Named, fire is referred to as the "Red Tongue". Ratha learns to control it but believes it to be a living being, which she calls her "creature".
  • In The Bone Ships by RJ Barker, a naval captain of a ship is a "Shipwife" regardless of the person's sex. Justified as dragonbone ships are male in designation. However the Shipwife's second in command is a Deck Keeper and sailors are Deckchilders. Additionally the navigator is a " courser". These are just some of the odd renamings in the series. One of the few uniquely fantastical offices is the guillaume. This position always belong to a disgustingly filthy avian humanoid. Their particular species was the final creation of The Creator (a god akin to the Thunderbird in native American folklore) and were blessed with the gift of controlling wind.
  • In Bravelands this is mostly averted, likely due to the large amount of different animals. However, the animals do occasionally use their own terminology. Scavengers are often referred to as "rot-eaters", carnivores and omnivores are "flesh-eaters", and herbivores are "grass-eaters". Insects are sometimes called "crawlers".
  • In Brothers of the Snake, the people of Reef Worlds refer to the Dark Eldar as primuls. Similarly, Salamanders call them dusk wraiths, after their ancient Nocturnean nickname from the times no one knew what Eldar were.
  • The Chaos Timeline often does this. America is called Atlantis, teddy bears are mishkas since they were invented in Russia, computer hackers are Logos (from "logic"), angst is called horreur, a blitzkrieg is a molniya (Russian for 'lightning'), tanks are Walzen ("steamrollers" in German), capitalism is monetarism etc. Justified, since history diverged in 1200 and people could well invent different names for things.
  • The Court of the Air goes berserk with this trope, coming up with alternate Steam-Punky names for everything from journalists ("pensmen") to computers ("transaction engines") to the Sun itself ("the Circle"). Some of the Smeerp-names, amusingly, also have entirely unrelated meanings in English, such as "cardsharps" for computer programmers (because they poke holes in punch-cards to operate the mechanical transaction engines). These names range from the understandable ("Carlists" instead of "Marxists") to the baffling ("combination" instead of "union").
  • In Clem Martini's The Crow Chronicles, the crows do often have their own ways of describing human technology — including "moving boxes" instead of "cars". This is somewhat justified because, as crows, they don't have anywhere near the same technology we do.
  • In The Dark Tower, Roland has Smeerpy names for several things. For instance, anything on bread (such as sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs in a bun) is called a "popkin". Understandable in that case, considering he hails from an Alternate Universe where nobody has ever heard of the region of Sandwich, Kent in England. In turn, "rustle/russel" means "rape" to him.
  • Liliana Bodoc's Days of the Deer has both the narration and the inhabitants of the Fantasy South America setting calling horses 'animals with mane'. She does slip up and say 'horses' once, though.
  • Lampshaded in a short story called "A Delicate Shade of Kipney" by Nancy Kress, published in an early issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine; her characters, third- and fourth-generation descendants of a small group stranded on an alien planet with a nearly-opaque atmosphere, speak of such colors as "kipney" and "tlem" (to the dismay of their ancestors, who still insist the planet be called "Exile" rather than "Keedaithen"). Kress unfortunately doesn't realize that words come from somewhere — that people who'd only heard of the colors you and I speak of every day wouldn't suddenly, spontaneously, start saying such things as "What a pretty shade of tlem."
  • Despoilers of the Golden Empire features carriers (horses), power weapons (guns), and the Universal Assembly (the Catholic Church). This is an odd example as it is the result of Translation Convention; the story is deliberately translated fairly directly from Spanish and Latin into English for the purpose of misleading the reader as to who the story is about.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, many dinosaurs populating the world are called by different names — for example, allosauruses are matadors, and deinynochuses become horrors. Justified by those being local monikers, whereas "international" names are the ones we know.
  • Largely averted in Gurney's Dinotopia books; flora and fauna are meticulously called by their scientific names, no matter how long those might be; it's mentioned that learning these is an essential part of a child's education. Nor does it seem to matter that the setting takes place long before most dinosaurs were given these names. However, the trope is used with skybaxes, Giant Flyer pterosaurs who have appeared in every one to date. Journey to Chandara mentions in passing that they're Quetzalcoatlus, but people usually just call them skybaxes. They, and no others, are called by a common name. It's made odder because a larger Quetzalcoatlus subspecies showed up in a previous book and was mentioned to be Q. northropi. The Ovinutrix are another one. They are Oviraptors, but dislike the name because it is a mistaken reference to them eating eggs, which in real life was proven likely false. So they, particularly the hatchery attendants, use "Ovinutrix" or "Egg Nurse" instead of "Oviraptor" or "Egg Thief".
  • Parodied a lot in Discworld. In The Discworld Companion, Terry Pratchett explains that every young sci-fi/fantasy writer (presumably including himself) starts out carefully avoiding references to, e.g. "Toledo steel", but sooner or later throws their hands up and cries "What the hell?"
    • In particular he likes using terms that should not exist in a different world, and then justifying them with a bizarre parallel explanation. For example, "Pavlovian response" also exists in Discworld not because it was discovered by a man called Pavlov, but because the experiment involved the dog eating a strawberry meringue when the bell was rung.
    • The Assassins' Guild Diary inverts the "bizarre parallel explanation" trope; it doesn't try to justify the word "byzantine" at all, but does claim the politics of the ancient Komplezian Empire were so byzantine, they led to the modern Morporkian word "complex".
    • Terry Pratchett parodies this in Pyramids by using the term "camels of the sea" for ships (given that camels are "ships of the desert"...)
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Legacy, set on Peladon, the Pels ride large hoofed quadrupeds called equinna, which at no point are implied to have any more difference from horses than the Pels do to humans.
  • Dragaerans from Steven Brust's Dragaera novels refer to all predatory birds as "hawks", even if they're owls, shrikes, or whatever. There are occasional mentions of an animal called a "mock-man", which is probably a monkey or small ape to judge by its descriptions. Dragaerans also lump all alcoholic drinks derived from fruit together as "wine", even if they're created via a different process. In one of the novels narrated by a Dragaeran author, the word "brandy" appears in italics, being a foreign word used by Easterners to distinguish that particular "wine" from others.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: With the exception of Dragonsdawn, all of the novels in the series have replaced "horses", "cows", "dolphins" and "dogs" with "runnerbeast", "herdbeast", "shipfish" and "canines", to name a few examples. They add a bit of spice of the series, and they are at least easy to figure out what the alien word is referring to. These are explained to be versions of Terran animals genetically engineered for Pern. They don't look exactly like their ancestral species. The dolphins in particular are uplifted.
  • The Dragon's Gold series by Piers Anthony creates new animal names by making a portmanteau out of the names of two similar animals that exist in the real world. For instance, when the book mentions an "allidile," this means a creature that is similar to both an alligator and a crocodile. Or, to stick with the rabbit example, the books would probably refer to a rabbit-like creature with a word like "harebit".
  • Jo Clayton's The Duel of Sorcery Trilogy uses this—for example, chinin, first mentioned in Moongather, are clearly dogs (and explicitly identified as such in Changer's Moon). However, there are also plenty of beasts of different colors, and the occasional smeerp identified as a rabbit.
  • Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East trilogy and sequel series, the Book of Swords, are both guilty of this to a somewhat ridiculous extent. Granted that they are set 50,000 years in the future and the English language has been lost; is it really neccesary to call horses "riding-beasts" and mules "load-beasts"? Plus "milk-beasts" and "wool-beasts". Yet birds are birds, dragons are dragons, and "potatoes" are still a named vegetable. Also confusingly subverted when we are introduced to the "war-beast", apparently some new type of lion or puma hybrid which can also be ridden.
  • In Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory's The Enduring Flame Trilogy, there are shotors, which from the description sounds like they are camels. Similarly, a sighthound is called an ikulas (although this, like its real-world derivation, may be the name of a breed), and citrus fruit get Phantasy Spellings.
  • In The Firebringer Trilogy, horses are called daya.
  • In For All Time, HIV/AIDS, discovered in the Soviet Union in this timeline, is referred to with its Russian name: Sindrom priobretennovo immunodeficita (Syndrome of Acquired Immunodeficiency) or SPID.
  • Forgotten Realms: War of the Spider Queen calls certain garments "piwafwis", but it could just as easily call them "cloaks". "Piwafwi" was established as the Drow word for "cloak" back in Salvatore's early Drizzt novels. In addition, piwafwis have certain characteristics that our cloaks do not, such as camouflaging the wearer to infrared vision. It ultimately comes down to the same thing as calling a Japanese sword a katana: "Katana" is nothing but the Japanese translation for "sword", but it still contains extra information on what kind of sword it is.
  • Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail is an Alternate History classic with a failed American Revolution as its Point of Divergence that employs this trope, with terms like "vitavision" for television and "locomobiles" for automobiles.
  • The Gostak And The Doshes: In this 1930 sciencie-fiction story by Dr. Miles Breuer, the sentence "The gostak distims the doshes" plays a major role. This sentence is not Dr. Breuer's invention; the credit goes to a writer named Andrew Ingraham, who coined it in 1903. The sentence became much more widely known as a result of its appearance in the 1923 book The Meaning of Meaning, by C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards.
  • In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy, creatures that rather obviously appear to be rabbits and monkeys are respectively called "lapans" and "simas." Other creatures such as tree bears keep their recognizable names. "Pan-fruit" is probably breadfruit (if so, the Kindar have latex and insect repellent) and "tarbo root", eaten by Erdlings as a side dish with fried lapan, is possibly taro root. A lot of the special language is based on German and French words. Snyder implied in the first book that the inhabitants of the planet Green-sky are descendants of an Earth colony founded by German and French scientists (and at least one Israeli) with a large group of war orphans. She includes some credible examples of linguistic drift and coinage.
  • In the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, there are a large quantity of words made up in order to make the owls feel more like a unique culture.
  • The Guns of the South has a couple; the Confederates in 1865 don't have words for the modern inventions the time-travellers gave them and since they aren't talking, they invent their own terms.
    • A machine-gun is an "endless repeater" (it's obviously some form of repeating firearm, and they never see or hear it reloading, hence "endless").
    • A computer is a "qwerty", after the first six letters on the keyboard. This one drops when they learn the proper term and find that, given what computer does, it makes a lot more sense.
    • MREs are "desiccated meals" and instant coffee is "desiccated coffee". Looted desiccated vegetables are common fare in the Confederate Army, and MREs and instant coffee are clearly something at least vaguely similar.
    • Smokeless powder is still smokeless powder. After all, what else are you going to call a gunpowder substitute that produces less smoke?
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Harry calls the wizards and witches walking around in lime-green robes with clipboards "doctors" and Ron says, "Doctors? Those muggle nutters who cut people up? Nah, they're healers."
    • Snape also has problems with the term "mind reading", and instead prefers legilimency (which is dog-latin "mind reading").
    • Similarly, instantaneous travel is called apparation instead of the Muggle sci-fi word "teleportation", and animated corpses are inferi, not "zombies".
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Silver Gryphon features this gem: "...a box, carved of a fragrant wood that the Haighlei called sadar..." Since the box never comes up again, and the wood it was made out of was not in the least important, why on earth didn't she just say "cedar"? The sense is the same either way — it's a foreign wood to these people — so why obfuscate?
    • Possibly for the same reason she has her characters perfuming themselves with "sentlewood", and a falconer taming a "cooperihawk".
      • Some of said falconers work with species like forestgyres, gyrefalcons, vorcel hawks, crested hawk-eagles... it's a bit noteworthy that there's a red-shouldered hawk in one book as that species name, and only that one, is not at all obfuscated.
    • There are "Plains grass-cats" referenced in a few books which are implicitly cheetahs, from their running ability. One of the major Shin'a'in clans, Pretera'sedrin, is named for the grass-cat in their language.
    • There are a couple of Gay Euphemisms which are loanwords—after the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy the Tayledras word "shay'a'chern" gets adopted and contracted in Valdemar as "shaych". Closer to the plains where the Shin'a'in live, their word, "she'chorne" is more common. "Fey" is also used sometimes.
    • An inversion occurs with the constant use of the Italian phrase al fresco throughout the Collegium Chronicles and Herald Spy books. Why the characters use Italian in a world with no connection to ours (instead of just saying "open air") is not explained.
  • The Hunger Games: The addictive painkiller in use around Panem is called "morphling" (morphine) and the people addicted to it are called "morphlings".
  • In Infanta, mention is made of a desert-dwelling mount called a "chimelo." The description given leaves it up in the air as to whether this is a Horse of a Different Color or a dromedary.
  • In the John Carter of Mars series, several Barsoomian words are substituted for perfectly applicable English terms, such as calling kings "jeddaks".
  • In the light novel series Kino's Journey, author Keiichi Sigsawa includes notes introducing the reader to "persuaders" (guns) and "motorrads" (motorcycles, specifically Hermes). Motorrad also counts as Gratuitous German.
  • In The Kingkiller Chronicle, creatures called "sipquicks" are mentioned that are strongly implied to be hummingbirds.
  • In Lacuna, the resident alien talks about distinctly Earthly things, such as tomatoes, in her own language and can't physically speak English. It's unclear if she's using her own words or trying her best to pronounce it in English.
  • In The Last Angel, the Compact, Askanj, and Humanity all have different words for ranks and titles. An Askanj Shipstress, a Compact Group Leader Prime and a Human Captain are all equivalent for example. The different naming conventions underscore the alien nature of the different civilizations.
  • In The Legacy Of Heorot, by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes, fish-like creatures swimming in the stream of a colony planet are referred to as "samlon" (much to his chagrin, it took some folks half the book to notice it wasn't "salmon"). They turn out to be rather more than that...
  • In addition to "caffe", Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy books include mentions oporto (port), xerez (sherry) and ouiskie (whisky). The first two, like "caffe", combine the English and French words (appropriately enough, given the book's Alternate History Anglo-French setting); the last is an alternate Anglification of the Gaelic usquebaugh.
  • Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away: Several creatures get this treatment. Unicorns, for example, are referred to as "one-horns".
  • Lots in The Maze Runner. Medics are called "Med-Jacks", butchers are called "Slicers", etc.
  • In the Myth Adventures novels, Skeeve's homeworld of Klah is populated by such portmanteau animals as spider-bears or fox-squirrels, and Skeeve himself is often bewildered by references to mundane animals. ("What's a cow?") This running gag is built upon further from time to time, as when Skeeve is surprised to learn that steaks don't come from animals called "steaks" — "fish" comes from "fish" or "chicken" from "chickens", after all — or when he starts to ask "What's a wombat?", then stops because his imagination suggests it's something too scary to want to know about.
  • Nightfall (1990): "Thargola's Sword" for Occam's Razor. "Godlights" instead of "nightlights" (because Kalgash doesn't have a night). A few other things, but mostly an Averted Trope in favor of Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit". The preface, "To The Reader", explains why the story seems to be written in English rather than inventing Kalgash terms.
  • The One and Only Bob: At the beginning of the book is a list of phrases dogs have for various things they do.
    • Crazy mutt: Exuberant greeting ritual.
    • Full Wag: The happiest tail position, a relaxed circular swish, sometimes including hip wiggles.
    • FRAP Frenetic Random Activity Period (synonym: zoomies)
    • Toe-Twitcher: Dream (often squirrel-focused) resulting in foot movement.
    • Playbow: Body position with elbows down and rear up, signaling an invitation to have fun.
  • Nowhere Stars: Most contemporary technology from reality exists in this world, but not always with the same names; the internet is instead the "Coral Sea", websites are called "reefs" and computers are "cnidarian drives" ( or just "drives" for short). If it wasn't obvious yet, this culture has a big "sea" motif.
  • Orphan Island: The kids on the island have their own names for things. They call oysters "Ersters", nights are called "Sleeps", and Octopus is called "Inkfish".
  • Eric Van Lustbader has the Pearl Saga where everything, even the race that seems to just be humans, has a different name. In fact, the only thing with a recognizable name seems to be dragons, which are just dragons.
  • In the Pellucidar novels, various prehistoric animals are called by names such as "tandor" (mammoth), "sithic" (labyrinthodont), "thipdar" (pteranodon), and "lidi" (diplodocus). Understandable, as having primitive natives call these animals by their highly-technical scientific names would've been pretty jarring.
  • The far-future Earth of A. A. Attanasio's novel Radix is rife with these, the most jarring being the standard currency, "zords". (No, not that kind.) A fantastic book by a brilliant author who was apparently unaware of this trope, or at least that sometimes tropes really ARE bad.
  • Mostly avoided in Redwall except for "hotroot pepper", which the evidence suggests is probably horseradish.
  • In The Ringworld Throne, Niven calls some tasty rabbit-like critters "smeerps", as a reference to the Trope Namer, the Turkey City Lexicon.
  • Seeker Bears has "flat-faces"/"no-claws"/"smooth-pelts" for humans (depending on the species saying it), "firebeasts" for vehicles, "BlackPath" for roads, and "death sticks" for guns.
  • The various wolf terms in The Sight, which is made even more confusing when this wolf vocabulary is mixed with its English equivalent. In particular, "varg" and "wolf" are used interchangeably. The author had previously done the same thing for deer in Firebringer: sometimes they were 'deer', sometimes they were 'Herla'. Hedgehogs were occasionally 'brailah'.
  • Just as in The Draka series it's based on, Drakia in Separated at Birth: America and Drakia maintains a form of slavery by any other name based off indentured servitude, though they're known as "bondsmen" rather than "serfs".note  However, the slave-like nature of the system is a point of contention between Britain and Drakia, and the potential abolition of the bondsman system is one of the reasons why Drakia declares independence.
  • Soldier Dogs:
    • In Battle of the Bulge, Gregor's beard is called "lip-fur" by the dogs.
    • Boss in Battle of the Bulge doesn't understand what the Northern Lights are. She refers to them as dogs, because she thinks they look like dogs fighting in the sky.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • There are few mundane creatures with fantastic names, and one of the joys of the series is how immediately evocative most of the terms are. One of the best of these is the "lizard-lion", which almost every person who reads the series understands to be an alligator. Others include zorses (for zebras, and not actual zorses), puff fish, pricklefish, snow bears, and colorful talking birds (parrots).
    • Certain inanimate substances also get this treatments, such as obsidian (called dragonglass by the smallfolk, but frozen flame by the Valyrians).
    • Also applies to some diseases. Dysentery is generally called "bloody flux", though the Meereenese call it "pale mare". Chickenpox is "redspots", while stomach cancer is "crabs in the belly", Greyscale seems to be inspired by leprosy, as it has similar diagnoses.
  • In an odd variant, humans from the Funny Animal-populated world of Spellsinger are so accustomed to living amongst hundreds of other intelligent mammals that they (like everyone else) refer to what grows on top of their own heads as "fur", not "hair".
  • In Diane Duane's Star Trek Rihannsu novels have quite a few examples: e.g. 'fresher' instead of shower. Plus the "actual" Rihannsu words. The Empty Chair, lampshades it with the sentence "like a conjurer with a smeerp up his sleeve." The introduction to The Empty Chair implies that The Federation has been calling the Rihannsu smeerps rabbits all along.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Timothy Zahn, in his novels, generally tries, with the exception of hot chocolate, to keep to this trope, since the 'verse is very not Earth and involves humans, but few other Earth animals. He tends not to describe nonhumans in great detail, but will mention avians in the brush or hostile canid creatures. This does lead to some readers wondering how "avian" is less an Earthism than "bird", and why he'll use "snake".
    • A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy regular mentions mouse/rat-like creatures called "vrelts." The smeepriness is extended to common phrases featuring rats, "a deadly game of cat and vrelt."
    • Alan Dean Foster (ghost writing for George Lucas), in the novelization of A New Hope, lampshades this during an early conversation between Obi-Wan and Luke, who grew up on a very dry planet:
      Obi-Wan: Still, even a duck must be taught to swim.
      Luke: What's a duck?
      Obi-Wan: Never mind.
    • The X-Wing Series dealt more with everyday life than other entries in the EU, so we got a lot of smeerpy terms for ordinary objects like appliances. Refrigerators are "conservators", and bathrooms are "refreshers". Aaron Allston uses the latter for a pun in Starfighters of Adumar when Tomer Darpen remarks that the facilities in the Adumari hotel Wedge et al. are staying in are more primitive than they're used to, and they may need to be taught how to use them. Hobbie immediately calls it "a refresher course". Janson gets irritated that Hobbie ninja'd his joke.
  • The Stormlight Archive: A Played for Laughs example. The Hostile Weather (in the form of continent wide hurricane every week or so) has resulted in a bizarre ecosystem that more closely resembles ocean life. Shinovar is the one exception, being sheltered enough from the storms that it more or less resembles Earth with things like horses, grass and chickens. They've exported a number of these animals to the rest of the continent, but since the rest of the continent doesn't have any birds at all, any bird they encounter is just called a chicken. In one chapter, Shallan encounters a trained parrot, and wonders how the multicolored chicken with only a small bit of shell (the beak) could survive, and why it's owner has it sitting on his shoulder, since chickens are for eating.
  • The protagonist of Stray is a cat who either rejects human names or often doesn't know them. He uses his own terminology for many things:
    • Televisions are "electrical picture boxes".
    • Cigars and cigarettes are "paper chimneys".
    • The moon is nameless to cats but Pufftail affectionately calls it "our Mother-of-Night". The stars are her "sisters".
    • Pufftail prefers to call cars "engines of murder" rather than "cars".
    • Pufftail refers to death as the "Great Stillness".
  • Survivor Dogs has "longpaws" for humans, "loudcages" for cars, "sharpclaws" for cats, "Trap House" for the pound, "no-sun" for night, "Leashed Dogs" for pet dogs, and "loudsticks" for guns. It's noted that stray dogs (or "Free Dogs"/"Wild Dogs" as they're called) actively avoid referring to things using "longpaw" terms. Lucky rejects referring to dogs by their breed names and instead uses vaguer dog terms like "Fierce Dog" (Dobermans and other common Angry Guard Dog breeds) and "water-dog" (Newfoundlands and other water-centric breeds). He also objects to referring to a river stone used to keep meat cold as a "cold-box" (a fridge), with his sister agreeing that "river-store" is better and "more doggish" sounding.
  • Tailchaser's Song uses this in combination with Conlang in a similar manner to Watership Down. Cats (or "the Folk" as they call themselves) have their own language and culture. Though most of their language is "translated" in the book, a number of their terms and words are not. Female cat are "fela", squirrels are "rikchikchik", humans are referred to as both "m'an" (meaning "out of the sunshine") and the "Big Ones", dogs are "growlers", rodents (and rodent-like animals) are "squeakers", birds are "fla-fa'az", evening is "Unfolding Dark", etc.
  • In the Tairen Soul series, several things and animals, including humans, are often called by other names. A rultshart, for example, is roughly equivalent to a wild boar.
  • In Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm fantasy series, the monarch is called not King or Queen, but the unisex "Aristok", which might be derived from "aristocrat".
  • Mitch Benn's Terra Trilogy practically epitomises this trope. Here he is describing a sports match: "To Fthfth's delight, Terra's gfrg skills came on in leaps and bounds (there's a fair bit of leaping and bounding goes on in gshkth). She would convert Fthfth's zmms into zdds, smashing frkts and forcing yk yks and slotting the bdkt neatly to Fthfth so that Fthfth could ram home a victorious ghhh, to the rapturous hisses of their classmates." To be fair, it's a children's book, and children might well find that quite amusing.
  • Timeline-191 series:
    • A fictional character with the last name Blackford is president during The Great Depression instead of Herbert Hoover, resulting in shanty towns of unlucky stockholders being called Blackfordburgs rather than Hoovervilles.
    • With the Russian Revolution a dismal failure, the Molotov cocktail is renamed "Featherston fizz" after the series' Adolf Hitler equivalent.
    • Tanks are called "barrels" because, paralleling the origin of the Real Life term, they were first made in a building labeled "the Barrel Works". Fighter jets are called "Turbos," and radar is called "Y-range" (an abbreviation of "wireless ranging").
    • Atomic bombs are called "superbombs", and theoretical hydrogen bombs are "sunbombs". When an atomic bomb goes off, it produces a "toadstool cloud".
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien refers to tobacco as "pipe-weed." This may have been to avoid the dissonance of placing New World flora in an Anglo-European Fantasy Counterpart Culture. Though then again, they did have potatoes. "Pipe-weed" is definitely tobacco, but, like everything Tolkien did, justified eventually. In the case of tobacco and potatoes in proto-Europe, the justification was that the Númenóreans, as great sailors, had sailed all over the world and brought back the plants from the proto-New World. We are left to assume that the European versions of the plants died out eventually. It has been suggested that it is pipe-weed rather than tobacco because Tolkien was trying to create a modern English saga, and made a conscious decision to avoid English words of non-Germanic origins.
    • The original 1937 text of The Hobbit has Gandalf asking Bilbo to "bring out the cold chicken and tomatoes"; this particular reference bothered Tolkien enough in retrospect that when he revised the book, he changed it to "cold chicken and pickles".
    • The Fall of Númenor: The Númeroneans gave their island's animals and plants new names stemming from Elvish words; but since Númenor was destroyed, it is unclear whether those names designate creatures already found in Middle-Earth, endemic subspecies or completely different species. For example, the lopoldi there appear have been rabbits, since lopo is Quenya for rabbit and they were described as little but ravenous herbivores which multiplied very quickly, but their exact nature cannot be verified:
      "... animals which the Númenóreans called lopoldi. These existed in large numbers and multiplied swiftly, and were voracious herbivores; so that the foxes were esteemed as the best and most natural way of keeping them in order ... The lopoldi would appear to have been rabbits, animals which had been quite unknown before in the north-western regions of Middle-earth."
  • Tamora Pierce does this from time to time. Her Tortall Universe in particular takes leaps and bounds in development from the earliest books to the latest ones, with all kinds of details added. Trouble is, she occasionally forgets what needs renaming and what doesn't. The process of a "new exercise" Kel learns as a page is meticulously described...and turns out to be a push-up. Which Alanna did in her first book, where they were identified by name and not explained. (One Justified example is "duckmole" for "platypus" — actually a word coined by British settlers in Australia, since there's not exactly Ancient Greek or Latinization in Tortall.)
  • Sheri S. Tepper's The True Game setting has a whole fauna of clearly recognisable beasts such as bunwits (rabbits), fustigars (dogs), zellers (goats), flitchhawks (raptors) and pombis (bears) even though they are clearly said to have a completely different evolutionary background, with a pentagonal body framework rather than a spine. Weakly justified as the results of genetic meddling by the original settlers, but still...
  • In The Underland Chronicles, the assorted oversized creatures of the overworld are given simpler names, allegedly by the people who live there. (Rats are known as "gnawers", spiders as "spinners", and so on.) This is what the creatures of the Underworld actually call themselves, just translated into the nearest thing in English. Humans have one of these names too among the Underworld creaturesnote , but they don't like to hear it.
  • In Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, the titular “dolls” refers to a fictional slang term for the pills Neely O’Hara becomes addicted to.
  • The lead of Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue cat. They're known for their grey-blue coats and green eyes. Essentially, they're Russian Blues with a different name. Their name is also a Non-Indicative Name, because the breed is less than 150 years old (the ancestor of the breed, Jalal, is mentioned to have died a century ago), so it's unclear where they originate from.
  • Warrior Cats has "Twolegs"/"housefolk"/"Upwalkers" for humans (depending on where the cat's from), "monsters" for vehicles, "Thunderpath" for roads, "kittypet" for a cat owned by humans, "The Cutter" for the vet, and "twolegplace" for human settlement. Some of these would be justified by the fact that they're feral cats, understandably unfamiliar with things like internal combustion engines and armchairs, but others just seem to exist to add color. This page from the Warriors Wiki lists most of the terms and phrases.
  • The rabbits of Watership Down have their own Lapine language to describe things that are relevant to being a rabbit. Since the story's setting is recognizable to humans as 20th-century England, many of these words describe things that humans already have names for. Elil are animals that rabbits classify as predators, such as foxes, weasels, and humans; hraka is rabbit droppings; hrududu is anything with a motor, such as an automobile or a tractor. This often serves to illustrate very viscerally the differences in the way the rabbit view the world. For example, rabbits do consider "elil" to include what humans would recognise as predators...but they also consider roads to be elil. Likewise, a human would probably think that a train would be "hrududu" in rabbit speech; but when the rabbits encounter one they believe it's a divine being, because they don't have the knowledge base to grasp that it's essentially just a much larger vehicle driven by a much larger motor. However the Efrafan rabbits seem to be able to view things from a more human-like perspective as they explicitly refer to a rabbit's death being caused by a train.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Seanchan ride s'redit (elephants).
    • And are known to enjoy a good cup of kaf (coffee).
    • The Aiel are growing zemai instead of corn, algode instead of cotton and t'mat for tomato. While these smeerps (and the Seanchan ones, too) are at least partially justified, being unknown outside the Aiel Waste, this is not so with tabac (this smeerp tends to get lost in translation, anyway). They also have a very strong, brown-colored alcoholic drink known as oosquai (whiskey) made from zemai.
    • One suspects that he was actually playing on linguistic drift here. Zemai is an anagram of maize. Algode is nearly algodon, Spanish for cotton, t'mat ought to be self explanatory, and tabac is an archaic word for tobacco.
    • Also, there are no slaves in The Wheel of Time. They have da'covale in Seanchan, gai'shain (not exactly slaves if not captured by Shaido Aiel) in the Waste, and people "sold like animals" in Shara.
    • Many plants and animals have their names changed to more descriptive terms. Thus you might have someone taking shade under a leatherleaf tree and trying to shoo away the bitemes.
  • The Wicked Years books has several animals referred to differently than they are in English, such as the "pfenix" (phoenix) and the "tsebra" (zebra).
  • Wings of Fire: Dragons refer to humans as Scavengers.
  • World War series:
    • Humanity adopted some advanced technology from the Race and thus used their words for it; for example, lasers are called "shelkwank light" and optical storage disc players are likewise called "shelkwank players".
    • The lizards also use their own terms for certain ranks and vehicles, most of these being wiki-words: "fleetlord" means admiral, "shiplord" means captain, "killercraft" means jet fighter, "landcruiser" means tank, "troopcarrier" means APC. Interestingly, certain words they use make no sense given what we are told about them. They call their spacecraft "ships", even though they're from a desert world with no large bodies of water and have never bothered to develop naval vessels. The word "landcruiser" implies other kinds of cruisers, except they have none. A Chinese woman is baffled by the Race's use of "ships", as their "planes-that-never-come-down" are most definitely not on water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 parodied this trope with G'Kar's discovery that Swedish meatballs from Earth were exactly like a Narn delicacy called breen, and furthermore that every other known race in the galaxy has a dish exactly like it. It's one of those mysteries whose answer would drive you mad were you to learn it.
  • The original Battlestar Galactica:
    • "Daggits" were dogs. Amusingly, many people only think of Muffet, the robotic replacement for a daggit, when they hear the word "daggit", but it applied first to normal dogs.
    • They also once referred to "a crawlon in its web", in a context where we would refer to a spider.
    • There was also a prominent subversion. They had their own words for time units (micron, centon, yahren), but these didn't correspond to our time units.
    • On one planet (where they'd not heard of Cylons yet) there was talk of needing to use guns to shoot the "lupus" (Latin for wolf) to protect their livestock, described as "ovines" (sheep).
  • In an episode of Captain Kangaroo, the Captain dreams that he is visited by aliens who need "a glunk full of gleeger" to fuel their spaceship. He tells them he has no idea where to get such a thing, but while they're there he offers them a glass of milk, and wouldn't you know it...
  • In Sprout's programming blocks, the hosts referred to the viewers as "Sproutlets," a possible reference to the channel's original website, (which itself is named after the channel's original slogan - let's grow!).
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Five Doctors": The Doctors and their respective companions find a small pyramid with symbols on it that are supposedly in "Ancient Gallifreyan". Any Yank university student who has studied maths or joined a fraternity/sorority can tell you that those letters are Greek.
      • Lampshade Hanging in the novel The Gallifrey Chronicles, where Rachel asks Marnel why the readouts on his Time Lord technology are in Greek, and he retorts that they're not, they're the letters of the Gallifreyan "omegabet". (Note that "omegabet" is also calling a rabbit a smeerp; there's nothing that makes it different from an alphabet except that that's not what they call it.)
    • Daleks count their time in "rels", not seconds.
  • Farscape: Cycles are Earth years, solar days are Earth days, arns are hours, and microts are seconds. It is never mentioned why alien species on the other side of the galaxy would base their time units around the relationship between Earth and its sun, especially before they ever learn about Earth.
    • Lampshaded a few times by John, when he says things like, "It'll take a few hours...I mean arns."
    • The alien units are explicitly not exactly the same as their Earthican equivalents, but they're conveniently similar.
    • It might not have been so much Earth and the sun as it was some other world and the sun. Science does tend to provide very specific requirements for life to exist on a particular world, so theoretically it's not impossible that these units of measurement originated from a planet in a relatively similar position to its own sun as Earth is to its own. Also from a practicality standpoint, especially once various species started getting together and space travel became a regular part of this civilization, it makes sense to find a very specific means of measuring time since you can't use the position of the sun like you would on Earth, so an approximation of the average time a planet takes to complete a circle around its sun seems like a reasonable way of measuring a year.
    • It's also not quite the same. One of the few times we get an exact measurement, Crichton mentions "180 microts" as the amount of time that his brain can go without oxygen and still be revived. The real-world answer in human terms is about 4 minutes, making a "microt" roughly 1.3 seconds.
    • Played straight later, when Crichton tells D'Argo to wait a certain number of microts before doing something. When D'Argo replies that he has no time-keeping device, John counts him off "One Mississippi, Two Mississippi."
    D'Argo: One mipplebippi. Two mipplebippi.
  • In Käpt'n Blaubär, the ever-lying captain serves "Zorx mit Mürschlampf", some alleged alien food specialty, to his ever-nagging nephews. Luckily, this menu has an uncanny similarity to spaghetti with meatballs. (Frankly, it IS spaghetti with meatballs.)
  • LazyTown: Sportacus refers to fruits and vegetables in general as "SportsCandy".
  • "Debbie" the Bloop in Lost in Space looks indistinguishable from a chimpanzee. The movie adaptation improved on this by making her a far more alien googly-eyed chameleon/lemur creature with the help of CGI rendering.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the planets they visit are occasionally victim to this. The most common one is the Stargate itself, which is called everything from "The Great Circle" to a "chappa'ai", but they also use this trope on other words, including swear words every now and then.
    Aris Boch: The System Lords think that you are a pain in the mit'ka.
    Col. Jack O'Neill: Neck?
    Teal'c: No.
    • One episode had an alien trial; it turned out to be exactly like a trial on Earth, except the prosecutor, defendant, etc. had Smeerpy new titles. This was heavily lampshaded by O'Neill and Carter.
      • This is somewhat justified in the Stargate verse, due to the "aliens" not actually being aliens at all, but humans that were kidnapped from Earth in the past. Thus most of the "alien" cultures are actually based on ancient Earth cultures.
    • The episodes featuring Marty and Wormhole X-treme are extensively used to Lampshade various writing and sci-fi Tropes, including this one. Marty gets into an argument with a prop guy for trying to use a bowl of apples as fruit on another planet, telling him to instead paint some kiwis red. "Okay, so now the script'll go, uh: 'Nick walks into the garden of kiwi trees, says 'how like Eden this world is' and bites into a painted kiwi.'"
  • The inhabitants of Haven in Thunderstone have a few words like this, mostly for dates and times. Years are greenings. Dawn, noon, dusk and night are new sun, mid sun, old sun and star time. This gives Noah many headaches at first as he struggles to word things in ways they’ll understand or care about.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Homeward Bound 4. Since they're animals and don't understand human things, tasers and guns are referred to as "shock-sticks" and "bang-sticks".
  • The galaxy-spanning scifi of Mission to Zyxx invokes this with Brethian (Russian) roulette, garfons (chickens), and aggneg (eggnog).

  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audios, the bats in the rafters of the Eighth Doctor's TARDIS are "fledershrews".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cyberpunk RED has "Agents" which are basically smartphones. This is because of the original editions of Cyberpunk from the 1980s/1990s were set in the futuristic year of 2020 where nothing similar to a smartphone existed. RED was released in actual year 2020 but is set in the eyar 2045, so the Agent was created in-between the events of the two version so it has a more "modern" vision of the future, even if keeping some of that zeerust.
  • The Dark Eye contains a few mineral and vegetable examples: oranges are known as as "aranges" (after the region they're most common in, Arania), hemp is called "ilmenleaf" (possibly to get its recreational use past the censors...) and platinum is known as "Moonsilver".
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, the tinker gnomes have invented a backpack parachute and a two-way radio transceiver. They call these inventions the "narycrash" and the "fargab", respectively.
    • Eberron:
      • Dinosaurs have a common name different from the one used on Earth, as well as a name in the Draconic language (which some of the common names appear to be corruptions or calques of). In the setting's original (D&D 3.5) incarnation, a table lists the equivalents as: Fintail (Cryptoclidus), Great Fintail (Elasmosaurus), Clawfoot (Velociraptor), Fastieth (Leaellynasaura), Carver (Deinonychus), Great Carver (Megaraptor), Glidewing (Pteranodon), Soarwing (Quetzalcoatlus), Thunderherder (Seismosaurus), Spineback (Spinosaurus), Threehorn (Triceratops), Hammertail (Ankylosaurus), Bladetooth (Allosaurus) and Swordtooth Titan (T. Rex). These naming conventions are similar to those for D&D-original dinosaur species, such as the Fleshraker and Swindlespitter (which also receive Draconic names in said table).
      • On the conceptual side, Eberron also features inquisitives and chronicles... otherwise known as detectives and newspapers.
    • In 4th Edition Monster Manual, there are monsters called the Macetail Behemoth and the Bloodspike Behemoth, with the illustrations clearly indicating them to be an Ankylosaurus and a Stegosaurus respectively. Monster Manual 3 follows up with the Bonecrown Behemoth, Skinwing Behemoth, and Spirehorn Behemoth, which are meant to be a Pachycephalosaurus, Pteranodon, and Triceratops. The 4E names may be inspired by the Eberron example above.
    • In 5th Edition, small animals identified as "quippers" are clearly piranhas. However, it's worth noting that he name had appeared in previous editions to refer to a particular species of piranha that prefers colder waters than real piranhas.
    • The rothé seem to be a variety of musk oxen.
    • Several editions have included large, flightless, predatory birds called Axe Beaks, of which the original description in the 1st Edition Monster Manual clearly indicated the creature is in fact a Phorusrhacid, or "terror bird". Why they didn't go with the better-known (and frankly cooler-sounding) nickname is beyond us.
  • Fabula Ultima has a family of canine monsters called "howlers". While several of these have supernatural powers or natures, the most mundane of them—the grey howler—is clearly just a normal wolf.
  • In GURPS Banestorm, the descriptions of bushwolves, paladins, treetippers, and milkfish (native non-magical animals) sound like thylacines, glyptodonts, giant sloths, and manatees. The different names make sense since the medieval-era Earth natives who had been brought to Yrth by the Banestorm had never seen them before (they were either extinct, or from lands their original cultures had not yet encountered) and gave them their own names.
  • Middle-Earth Role Playing: The modules often used the elvish names of common animals/objects, even in non-flavour text.
  • Pathfinder: According to Paizo's blog, when people of Golarion get nervous, they don't get "butterflies in the stomach", but rather "gutwasps". In context, Merisiel the Iconic Rogue and Kyra the Iconic Cleric both get them right before their wedding.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a few examples, from the Eldar ('space elves')note  to the Squats ('space dwarves'), though most of the common usage words are either abbreviations of normal words (lasgun for laser gun, frag warheads for fragmentation warheads) or can be explained as something different from what they sound like (lho sticks, which are described as being remarkably similar to cigarettes, but probably have a more futuristic narcotic inside). Plus Jokaero, the space orangutans, and gyrinxes, the space cats. The world of 40k hasn't always been the grim place it is nowadays. There's also recaff for coffee, amasec for something like whiskey, tanna for chifir (Russian gulag tea), vox for radio transmitter of any kind, Auspex and Augurs for sensors and quite a couple of other "futuristic" and/or grimdark names.
  • White Wolf games in general do this a lot, especially both lines of The World of Darkness imprint. Each supernatural faction seems to have multiple terms for themselves, the other supernatural groups, and normal humans. E.g., they're not vampires, they're Kindred, Damned, the Get of Caine, Servants of the Wyrm, etc. They're not mages, they're Awakened, Enlightened, Reality Deviants, Willworkers, etc. They're not humans, they're kine, canaille, Sleepers, Children of the Weaver, etc. The factions with long-established histories like the vampires and mages tend to include a generational divide in terminology, with the elder vampires and mages using traditional terms often derived from Latin, French or German, while the younger ones use a form of modern street-slang.

  • Played for laughs in A.A. Milne's play The Ugly Duckling. The princess' suitor is required to answer a riddle to win her hand. The king gives him the answer in advance, but the riddle is changed at the last minute and the none-too-bright suitor answers "a dog" instead of "a cat". His servant (the princess' real suitor in disguise) quickly explains that in their country, "dog" is another word for "cat". Spoofing this trope even further, he adds that there are places where the creature is known as a "hippopotamus".
  • A. A. Milne loves this trope. It's prevalent in Winnie the Pooh but the distinctions between real animals and stuffed ones, as well as which names were actually the real-world Christopher Robin's mispronunciations, are kind of lost in the Disney adaptations.

    Theme Parks 

  • The Rahi in BIONICLE all have Foreign-Sounding Gibberish names despite most of them just being enlarged, cyborg versions of Earth creatures. The Term Rahi itself could be used equivalent to our animals, not including sapient beings, just like most people not including humans when speaking of animals

    Video Games 
  • Aion does this with the plants you can gather; they even have different names for the same plants on the Elyos and Asmodian sides. Animals too, such as airon (heron), brax (bison), elroco (squirrel), worg (wolf), abex (goat), etc.
  • The four advanced crops of ARK: Survival Evolved are "savoroot" (potato), "rockarrot" (carrot), "longrass" (sweetcorn), and "citronal" (lemon).
  • Lampshaded in Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword where Yuuto refuses to refer to yofwals as anything but waffles.
  • In Atlantis Odyssey the Atlanteans refer to cows as "moo'calva" and sheep as "yok'tar".
  • In The Battle of Polytopia, each tribe has a unique native fruit and animal, many of them having fantastic names despite being based on real-life wildlife. Some examples include the Phantrix (Luxidoor elephants), Shebrons (Oumaji zebras), Øgelfuss (Bardur blueberries), and Lumaepeles (Imperius apples). This only comes up in supplemental materials, though; in-game, they're just called "fruit" and "animal".
  • Clonk has zaps instead of bees. Oddly, the trope isn't used for anything else.
  • Cool Cool Toon is all about an activity called "flitzing", where one moves their body dynamically in rhythm with music. It's exactly like dancing, except it's the source of all power in Cool Cool Town, so one's flitzing ability is equal to their status in society.
  • Darksiders has an "Ortho," also known as the "Angelic Beast". It's a Griffin.
  • Disco Elysium uses a lot of alternative terms for everyday items in order to give a sense of the Retro Universe, European melting-pot setting.
    • Collecting empty bottles from the street to cash in for money is referred to as "collecting tare" (from Estonian "taara" or Russian "tara", both of which mean "recyclable glass containers").
    • The medical room at the police station is called a "lazareth" (from Russian "lazareth", meaning "military medical facility").
    • PTSD is called "Trauma and Stressor Disorder".
    • Cars are called "motor carriages".
    • A crowbar is called a "prybar".
    • Elves are referred to as "welkins", which, despite showing up mostly in fantasy boardgames and books in the story where this trope may be in effect, is the commonly understood term (e.g. Jean refers to Harry's ex-girlfriend as 'welkin-like'.)
  • Donkey Kong Country: Almost all primates, ape or monkey, are referred to as "kongs". The main antagonists are crocodiles, but are referred to as "kremlings". Vultures are "neckies", Beavers are "gnawties", sharks are "chomps", etc.
  • When Dragalia Lost reached its second anniversary, firearms were introduced as a new weapon type. However, to keep with the fantasy RPG setting, they go by the name of "manacasters", and they fire mana bullets.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a couple of mildly obscure ones. Guinea pigs are known in-game as "cavies", which happens to be their original name in the language local to their country of origin, and Corinthian Bronze goes by "black bronze", likely to avoid any references to real-world locations. Adamantine is also Tolkien's mithril under another name, but that's more of a trademark issue. "Hearthperson" appears to be an odd translation of the word huskarl.
  • Earth Defense Force 5 goes out of its way to not describe the aliens as exactly what they look like. That's not a giant ant, that's "Aggressive Alien Species Alpha".
  • In the first two Ecco the Dolphin games, the cetaceans call themselves "Singers" and have different names for other animals in their ocean home: Shelled Ones are clams, Hungry Ones are sharks, giant octopuses are Eight-Arms, and so on.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series wherever they appear, those aquatic mammals with tusks and whiskers aren't walruses — they're "Horkers". It is borderline in that Horkers aren't exactly walruses, just very similar (they have three tusks, although it's easy to miss, and in Bloodmoon they have arrow-shaped snouts), but gets highlighted by the fact that virtually all the other almost-like-Earth animals get to keep their Earth-analogue's name (the four-tusked fur-covered Elephantidae are mammoths, for example).
    • Morrowind includes an in-universe example — Bonewalker is stated to be the Dunmeri term for the category of undead generally called 'zombies' in the rest of Tamriel.
    • In Oblivion, one of the plants you can pick to use for alchemy is called "St. Jahn's Wort", presumably because Tamriel has no St. John to name St. John's Wort after.
    • In Skyrim rats are known as Skeevers. This is a tad bit odd since all the previous games had rats called rats. It goes beyond odd when you consider that "skeevers" are the only animals (or indeed, enemies) in the entire game to get this treatment — Draugr are something thoroughly different from the zombies and skeletons of previous titles, and though Horkers are essentially walrus, they've had that name since Morrowind. Beyond that, wolves are wolves, bears are bears, and mammoths are even mammoths. Skeevers in the game are even described as "rat-like" and are much larger than rats. Since Skyrim has other prehistoric animals, maybe the skeevers are supposed to be some kind of early mammaliaformes. It may also be possible that Bethesda finally figured out a name they like for their fantastical giant rats. The same seems to apply to the series' giant spiders since this game always calls them frostbite or albino spiders.
  • Escape From The Planet Of The Robot Monsters calls escalators "Electro-Stairs."
  • Eschalon does this in several instances. It ain't a minotaur, it's a Taurax. It ain't a giant spider, it's a Phase Hunter. It ain't a giant black beetle, it's a Goliath Borehead.
  • Fable doesn't have werewolves, it has balverines! Who (in the first game) can only be hurt by silver, disguise themselves in human form, howl at the moon, and, oh, can infect other humans who survive being bit.
  • Fae Farm: Half of the livestock species are mundane animals with funny names. Chickoos are chickens, mamoos are highland cattle, and woolyhorns are sheep.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • No, humans in Final Fantasy XII can't just be humans. They're "humes." Those techniques you use in battle? "Technicks." Oh, and that isn't magic you're using against your enemies; they're "magicks." Strangely enough, though, creatures based on real-life animals usually keep their real names — wolves are wolves, rabbits are rabbits, etc. And yet something as simple as a manufactured crystal is actually "manufacted."
    • No, they're not dinosaurs, they're tyrannidsnote .
    • Tall, slender humanoid races with pointy ears are usually called "Elves", but Final Fantasy XI chooses to call them Elvaan.
    • Final Fantasy XIV does this, even to Final Fantasy XI's names. The Humes are now Hyur, Tarutaru are Lalafell, Elvaan are Elezen, Mithra are Miqo'te, and Galka are Roegadyn. Worth noting there are subtle differences between these races, and the old ones are mentioned as having been around in the last age.
      • Played more straight with measurements. Ilms, fulms, yalms, and malms are, more or less, inches, feet, yards, and miles. Bells are hours.
      • Animals and vegetables are also like this. Such as strawberries and potatoes being called rolanberries and popotoes, respectively. Giraffes are called dhalmel, tyrannosaurus are vinegaroon, and elephants are marid.
      • The First, a parallel world in Shadowbringers, introduces counterparts for the Hydaelyn races with their own names: Hyur are Humes once more, Elezen are Elves, Miqo'te are Mystel, Roegadyn are Gladjent, Au Ra are Drahn, Lalafell are Dwarves (and classified as a beast tribe in the First), Viera are Viis, and Hrothgar are Ronso.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Freedom Wars: Most food aside from the tasteless nutritional paste most denizens of the Panopticon eat gets this treatment, since resources to produce real food are scarce. These include "So-Chlo" (an exotic drink which is actually carbonated water flavored with sodium chloride, AKA: table salt) and Q-Cumbers (cucumbers).
  • Frogsong: The enemies are all different types of bugs, but they have different names. For example, a praying mantis is called a Slizer, a bee is called a Humming Devil, and a spider is called a Weblurker. Justified as the amphibians have different names for them than what humans call them.
  • Genshin Impact has the "Kamera", which is just the setting's version of a camera. Also, Blubberbeasts are the setting's equivalents of seals but with tiny little horn nubs.
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins, with their spinoff series Gargoyle's Quest, have a race which has been called Red Devils, Red Demons, and other assorted names in the past; their correct name is "Red Arremer".
  • Ground Control and its sequel have Terradynes (Tanks and tracked vehicles) Aerodynes (Planes), Helidynes (a different kind of aircraft)and Hoverdynes (Hovering tanks). Strangely enough, the Terran Empire doesn't go with A Mech by Any Other Name, simply calling them "walkers". In the sequel, the Virons call their Hoverdynes "Centruroids", even though they're functionally the same.
  • Hiveswap Friendsim has some fun with Homestuck's use of this. At one point, you're offered a meal of "grubcakes with boiled tree blood and churned dairy product" — i.e., pancakes with syrup and butter. When you wonder if the drink is "brown bean juice", you get a bemused "No, that's just coffee" in response.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • No, those aren't swords, they're "nails".
    • The world's creatures are sometimes called by the names of their real world counterparts, but usually aren't. The spiders of Deepnest are "Weavers" with their leader being "the Beast," but they are occasionally called "spiders." The centipede enemies are Garpedes, and the worm monsters in the Crossroads are Goams. Mosquito-like creatures are Squits. The jellyfish of Fog Canyon are never called jellyfish, instead they're named Uumas and Oomas; it's implied that they're very alien creatures to the people of Hallownest, and the Hunter at least has no idea what they are.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist takes place in the far future where humans left Earth to colonize an alien planet, Vertumna. To distance themselves from their Earth origins, the Strato and Helio colonies give different names for Earth technology such as "hearspeaks" for earphones, "virtspace helmets" for VR helmets, and "vintage focus devices" for fidget spinners.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Common clucking barnyard fowl are referred to as "Cuccos". One character even refers to a cowardly character as a "Cucco". It's less out-there than most examples, since it's based on the Japanese equivalent of "cock-a-doodle-doo" (kokkekokkoh! —> kokko). This is rampant throughout the series. Crows are called Guays, bats are Keese (except in Zelda II's version of Hyrule, where they're known as Aches; and in Termina, where there are both Keese and Bad Bats, classified as two different species), vultures are Takkuri, snakes are Ropes, ghosts are Poes, skeletons are Stalfos, zombies are Redeads, mummies are Gibdos. However, almost all of these examples of mundane things (like Cuccos) have extraordinary powers. To use the Cucco example, chickens cannot instantly form vast indestructible Determinator flying swarms to avenge fallen brethren, whereas Cuccos do. To make things more confusing, it seems chickens do exist by name in Hyrule, though for the most part they're interchangeable with Cuccos. Link obtains one as a quest item in Ocarina of Time, and in Breath of the Wild, a Cucco enthusiast argues that if his Cuccos couldn't fly and carry heavy loads, "they'd just be chickens."
    • "Human" is more or less a general category for humanoid people, which includes the Hylians (typically what you play as, but more analagous to elves than humans), Gerudo, Sheikah, and Fair Folk like the Kokiri. The round-eared mundanes we're familiar with usually either go unnamed or are lumped in as a variant of Hylians, as there's not much you can say that differentiates them from everyone else. Sometimes the games distinguish between the two, sometimes they don't.
    • It's not a photo camera, it's a Pictobox. It takes "pictographs" rather than photographs.
  • Chumbucket in Mad Max (2015) has no idea what a dog is actually called, so when Max arrives with one in tow, he refers to it as a "Dinki-Di", after the numerous cans of Dinki-Di brand dog food scattered throughout the Great White.
  • Mass Effect doesn't have the Internet, it has the extranet. Possibly justified as "inter-" means "between", while "extra-" means "beyond". It's hinted that individual planets may have their own internets, which link to other planets to become the extranet. Also, they don't have movies; they have "vids."
  • In a more literal example of this trope, the rabbit-people of Odin Sphere are called "Pookas" (not to be confused with the other Pooka)
  • That's not a golf ball in Pangya, that's some sort of magical orb called an Aztec or a Phoenix (depending on localization).
  • Phantasy Star refers to its magic as "techniques". Phantasy Star IV justifies this by making techniques different from "real" magic, both in lore and in gameplaynote .
  • In Phoenotopia and its Video Game Remake, Phoenotopia: Awakening, sheep are called "pooki" and chickens are called "perro." The "perro" name is a bit unusual, since "perro" means "dog" in Spanish.
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin 2: Justified. No animals that have Earth names are to be seen, but the captains find loads of treasure — junk, tin cans, toys — and their ship, wanting to sell them, gives them wildly creative, often pretentious names that typically come nowhere near the names we'd use. Beyond the trope image (a D Duracell battery called a "Courage Reactor"), a chestnut is a "Seed of Greed", a juicer is a "Merciless Extractor", red tape is "Furious Adhesive"...
    • Pikmin 3 has the Koppaite travellers gathering fruit to avert a famine on their home planet. They're all recognisable earth fruits, but are given amusing alternative names based on their appearance or taste - lemons are "face-wrinklers", a banana is a "slapstick crescent", a peach is a "mock bottom" and so on.
  • In Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, a poorly translated bootleg of Pokemon Crystal Version, all of the people, places, and Pokemon have been renamed. To name a few, Venonat is called "Corn," Rattata is called "Caml," Goldenrod City is called "Xiaojin City," Professor Oak is called "Oujide Dr.," and Slowpoke is "Yedong."
  • In Rakuen, there are animals in the fantasy world that look, act and bleat like sheep, but are called Korshals instead of sheep.
  • Reverse: 1999 has Sotheby, a young, sheltered, socially-awkward heiress referring to cars as "auto islands."
  • Rhythm Heaven: There are lots of these in Megamix. For instance, talking to Saltwater in the cafe will bring up a menu showing off various stats, including the ending cutscenes the player has seen. The endings are called "Memories".
  • Riven doesn't have frogs, it has ytrams.
  • Ryzom lives and breathes this trope. The pigs are yubos, the toucans are ybers, the dingos are gingos, the crabs are cloppers, the other crabs are kitins, there are four different kinds of giant mosquito... and there's many, many more.
  • Sandcastle Builder: Many words are replaced with counterparts from the xkcd: Time forum thread, just to add "flavour":
    • The word "day" is always replaced with "dip".
    • Molpies are just cute animals.
    • Vital game functions such as "partial reset" and "complete reset" are confusingly named "Molpy Down" and "Coma."
    • "big" is replaced by "seaish."
    • The numerical value NaN (Not a Number, which results from undefined operations such as subtracting infinity from infinity or multiplying infinity by 0) is displayed as "Mustard."
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV has the citizens of the 15th-century kingdom of Mikado using terms such as "mystic script" and the "Unclean Ones' country". As it turns out, those two terms refer to Japanese script and Tokyo (the people of Mikado use English). As for why this is the case, it's a very long and spoilerrific story.
  • Skies of Arcadia is full of either specially named animals or combinations of animals we'd think of as normal. Rabbats (rabbits that hang upside-down), Kotekas (hybrid chicken/crows), Icebirds (the only birds in the game that can't fly), Huskras (small dogs), Arcwhales (flying arctic sperm whales)... and the Delphinus, which is named after an extinct species of dolphins with wings.
  • Day 9 TV gets a kick out of Starcraft doing this — calling a coyote a lyote, to be precise — in (starting around 47:15).
  • Star Fox Adventures uses dinosaur terminologies similar to The Land Before Time, including "Earthwalkers" for Triceratops, "Snowhorns" for Woolly Mammoths, and "Red Eyes" for Tyrannosaurus. The "Dumbledang Pods" are also cocoa fruit.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • They're Koopa Troopas. Not turtles. Given the game's origin country as Japan, you'd think that there's some etymology of the name from 'kappa,' a Japanese turtle youkai. Averted when you learn that it's because they're so-called for being Bowser's forces, and Bowser is spelled 'Kuppa' in Japan (and pronounced Koopa). As in, Korean foodstuffs.
    • Also of note is that this is the case for every Funny Animal species in the series. Dogs are Doogans; birds are Craws, ants are Antottos, and quite a few other examples. The normal versions of the animals have their normal names.
    • In Mario Bros., turtles are Shellcreepers (unrelated to the Koopa species) and crabs are Sidesteppers.
    • In the Japanese version of Super Mario RPG, in the battle against Exor, his mouth is named... "mouth". But in the English version, it's named "Neosquid" for no discernible reason.
    • In Mario Kart, cows are called "Moo Moos".
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World: Many of the monsters are named after real or mythological animals but deviate in design from the real thing, sometimes quite substantially. For example, the "raven" is a large black eagle or hawk, the "orca" is draconic or sea monster-like, the "Cerberus" only has one head, the "griffin" lacks the front legs that normally define a griffin as something different from a regular bird, etc... Seen here.
  • For Them's Fightin' Herds, the different ungulates technically have specific names for their races, but it’s downplayed as they are interchangeably called by their actual species more often than not. (Deerfolk for reindeer, Cattlekind for cows/bulls, Sheeple for sheep, Goatani for goats, etc.) Averted for the unicorns and longmas, who are always called just that. Invoked by the alpacas, who prefer to be called “Alpake”.
  • In TinkerQuarry, the toys have come up with names for their "species". For example, plush toys are called "Softies", and mechanical toys are called "Tinkers".
  • The Tower of Druaga and its anime spinoff both do this with classical dungeon-crawling enemies. Minotaurs are "Kusarakks" and Dragons are "Quokks", for example.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon calls several weapons 'Lasers' and 'Plasma' despite them clearly being kinetic weapons.
  • Two Worlds renames fairly typical goblins as "Groms" and, in II, reanimated skeletons are called "Necris."
  • Only a person who has played Ultima Underworld II can adequately describe to you what it means to use a Delgnizator on two Control Crystals to skup a new Bliy Skup Ductosnore.
  • Warframe has the Kubrow and the Kavats, which are functionally canines and felines respectively. However, Kubrows are hatched from eggs and have bat-like snouts while Kavats have reptilian features and can turn invisible. The Plains of Eidolon have Condrocs, which are just buzzards and Kuakas, which are chinchilla-like rodents. The Tenno refer to a wedding as a "Nuptia".
  • In World Neverland, the various crops you can grow have names like this. For example, peppi (peppers), curcur (eggplant), and pyrus (lemon). The fish you catch have similar names, such as entz (angelfish), veras (rays), and gazo (crabs). The player also has the option to do this themself, as if you catch certain rare fish, you get to name them.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Those large-mawed reptilian creatures you find near water aren't crocodiles, they're crocolisks. And those big pincer'd and stinger'd exoskeletal creatures aren't scorpions, they're scorpids. Considering that there are normal-sized scorpion critters simply called "scorpions", it seems that Azerothians only use the term "scorpid" to refer to scorpions as big as wolves with the temper to match. Also, the number of legs on real life crocodiles is generally known to be a number somewhere south of six. The crocolisks actually seem to be a type of aquatic basilisks, which are also fairly common in the Warcraft universe and also have six legs when presented. The two even use the same basic models.
    • Those giant bipedal dinosaurs with the really tiny arms are not theropods, they're devilsaurs (then again, what would you call one of those things if you saw it alive). Those long-necked aquatic reptiles with flippers are not plesiosaurs, they are threshadons (presumably from their habit of swiping their tails to "thresh" opponents).
    • The zebra-like horned creatures are zhevras. Other unicorns in the game, which share a model with the zhevras, are called "chargers". It's not clear whether this is intended to imply that they are the same creature. Actually, these are technically "kirin" rather than unicorns since they have cloven hooves. They also use the same animation set as the deer: except for the Thalassian charger which uses horse animations.
    • The dodo-like creatures found throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor are tallstriders. actually they are like a cross between a dodo and an ostrich. And make a horrifying shrieking noise.
    • The elephant-like creatures from Outland that the Draenei use as their racial mounts are elekks. Outland also has creatures known as talbuks that look like horse-sized goats, though there are actual goats in-game as the dwarves' racial mount and mountain goats you can purchase from the Tillers.
    • This even extends to some of the playable sentient races. Those humanoid cattle people that are part of the Horde are not minotaurs, they're Tauren. The new sixth race for the Alliance in Cataclysm are not werewolves, they're Worgen (named after worgs, which are dire wolves).
    • In an even more interesting example: the large cats found near Silvermoon are called "lynx", and look like the cats of the same name from the real world (apart from color: the in-game ones are red and gold). However, identical large felids found on the plains of Mulgore are called "prowlers" (these ones are plain tan). In other instances large cats are called "tigers" or "lions" despite being the same size as the "lynx" mentioned above. In all likelihood they are actually regional variations of the same creature. The different names, probably just reflect what aspects of the creature the local people care more about. The elves being very scientifically minded, probably care much more about it's genetic relationship to other animals. The Tauren meanwhile, care much more about it's tendency to prowl large areas stealthily. The "tiger" and "lion" meanwhile, are clearly so named just because they share characteristics with the real-world animals of the same name (stripes and manes respectively). they actually appear to be the same type of cat as the "lynx" and "prowler". As Azeroth is smaller than the real world, and the continents were only separated 10,000 years ago (rather than the millions of years our continents have been in their current formation) it stands to reason there would only be one large cat species. Particularly because it shares it's range with wolves.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 skirts this and Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit" in its monsters (at least in the English release), many are variants of normal animals with variations of normal animal names. To wit, Antols are ants the size of a dog, Brogs are large frogs with armored scales on their backs. There are also Ponios, Skeeters, Krabbles, Piranhaxes, etc. Although it seems like an example of this for most of the game, Homs are not in fact humans by another name.
  • Ys:
    • Wolves are called "rhebolls", squirrels are "quias", etc.
    • Pikkards are actually not an example, though they're easily mistaken for such. Despite taking on the same role in the game world as pigs do in real life — both as livestock, and in phrases like "pikkard sty" —they're actually a large rodent-like mammal somewhat resembling a hamster or marmot.
    • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana doesn't have dinosaurs, but it does have Primordials.

    Web Animation 
  • In Bravest Warriors, pigeons are called "space chickens". This is notable since other animal species don't get this treatment (such as hamsters and horses, although those in the show are also Uplifted Animals).
  • RWBY refers to smartphones as "scrolls", in keeping with the fairy tale theme.

  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Acid Whip = Dragon. Equid = Horse. Just don't call the sentient cyantians "animals", they consider it a major insult. And just look up "Mounty" in the Shivaewiki to find the alternate names for the various terran felines in their anthropomorphic cyantian forms.
  • Darths & Droids uses the actual word "smeerp" itself to describe an animal that the Ewocsnote  hunt.
  • Erfworld parodies this with its "dwagons", "gwiffons", "spidews", and other such beasts. Main character Parson Gotti, from Earth, explains to his boss Stanley that he's used to "dragons" and "griffons" on Earth. Stanley replies that they sound stupid, especially "Earth".
  • Averted and Lampshaded in El Goonish Shive; The author decided to concede and call his not-exactly-a-vampire thing a "vampire" because he knew the readers would accuse him of trying to pawn a vampire off as something else. A character in the story was telling her friends about a monster conceded to her listener's suggestion that it is a vampire because no matter what she says that is what they are going to hear.
  • Somewhat justified in Girl Genius, where the term "Clank" generally describes what would be called a robot nowadays, but not only is it a Gaslamp Fantasy set in an Alternate History, but it's set before the term "robot" was invented in 1921 by Karel Čapek. An exact year is not given, but it seems to be somewhere in the second half of the 19th century.
  • Guilded Age: Syr'Nj has plant-based names for body parts. Toes = Taproots, Hair = Foliage, etc.
  • Homestuck:
    • Parodied with the trolls, who use an exaggerated form of U- and non-U-English. Where a low-class troll like Sollux would say "ablution trap", a higher-blooded troll like Equius would say "bathtub". Additionally, Alternian versions of Earth animals are named after a word relating to the animal with the suffix "-beast." For example, horses are "hoofbeasts"." note note  Also, professions are given combat-related names, even if they have nothing to do with combat (so lawyers are "legislacerators".) Justified in this case, as every troll is in the military or will be in the future. Also, some celebrities on earth have troll counterparts, who are called "Troll (name)".
    • Paradox Space: The Felt have the game of table stickball, which is in every way identical to pool.
  • Lampshaded and outright enforced in the RPG Mechanics 'Verse of The Order of the Stick strip #824. Though in this case, it's because Thanh took offense due to being a Lawful Good paladin.
    Niu: Ha! As easy as taking candy from a baby.
    Thanh: Excuse me?
    Niu: Fine, fine. It's as easy as taking Apocalypse Candy from a doombaby.
    Thanh: Ha ha! Yes, it was!
    Niu: (sotto voce) Sacred stick in the holy mud.
  • Penny Arcade complained that the Star Wars Expanded Universe writers take this kind of thing to ridiculous extremes:
    Gabe: These goddamned Star Wars writers just don't know when to stop. This jackass just said that something can go "through a ferrocrete bunker like a neutrino through plasma." I get it, man. It says Star Wars on the cover. I know I'm reading about Star Wars. It's like, do they not have butter in space? Or hot knives to cut it with?
  • Sorcery 101 decided to call Chinese Sipanese even though before now one thought this was our world with werewolves and vampires and mages and demons. Every region in that comic has a different rename. UPH for the USA, Terra for England, and so on.
  • Strange Planet is pretty much all about "beings" talking about ordinary things in humorously stilted ways.
  • xkcd comments on this a few times:
    • "Fiction Rule of Thumb" mocks this trope's usage by suggesting that the quality of a fictional work decreases as the number of words made up by the author for simple concepts increases.
    • "Etymology" points out what happens when this trope is averted, instead. Han Solo greets Luke and introduces himself and his ship, the Millennium Falcon, only for Luke to get confused and ask what a "falcon" even is.

    Web Original 
  • Inventing descriptive, smeerp-ish names for animals has become a major internet meme. Examples include "Nope" (a spider), "Nope Rope" (a snake), "Danger Floof" (a bear), "Lunchopotamus" (a pig), "Majestic Sea Flap-flap" (a stingray), "Fart Squirrel" (a skunk), "Cat Bird" (an owl), "Giraffe Sheep" (a llama), and "Trash Panda" (a raccoon). As for rabbits themselves, they aren't "Smeerps" but... "Booplesnoots".

    Western Animation 
  • Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy: A Martian rabbit is called a "greech." Because it tends to scream "GREEEECH" directly into the ears of anybody disturbing it.
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: Teddy Ruxpin is an "Illiop". The Brazilian-Portuguese translation calls them bears anyway.
  • Chowder does this with food. Butter is now "blutter", coriander is now "snoriander", pizza is now "feetsa", etc. It should be noted that the characters themselves are named after actual foods, such as Chowder, Truffles, Schnitzel, Gorgonzola, Panini, etc.
    • Chowder also does it with money; dollars and cents are now "dollops" and "sments".
  • Fangbone! has many Skullbanian terms for certain things.
    • Dentists on Skullbania are called "Toothsmiths".
    • Skullbanians call hot dogs "Meat Tubes".
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • "Satomobiles", automobiles with sedan-chair flair, named after their in-universe creator, Henry Ford-like industrialist Hiroshi Sato. Although it is a little different: automobiles are called automobiles, while "Satomobiles" are automobiles made by Hiroshi's company. It still applies, as Satomobile is still slang for any automobile.
    • One could argue fire ferrets are also this trope, as compared to the series' other Mix-and-Match Critters they're extremely similar looking to real-life red pandas, with the only real difference being that they're somewhat smaller and thinner. In fact, the in-series Chinese writing even uses the same word for red panda ("fire fox" translated literally).
    • In the second season, Varrick begins creating black-and-white films called "movers" rather than movies.
  • The Lingo Show refers to fireflies as "Floozles".
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Marvin the Martian's weapon of choice is the Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator, which to the untrained eye looks just like an ordinary stick of dynamite. The original name "Uranium Pu-36" changed to "Illudium Q-36 " in subsequent cartoons. Pu is the chemical symbol for Plutonium. Either Uranium Pu-36 didn't sound "spacey" enough or they wished to not have kids think of nuclear weapons whenever it was referenced.
    • In one early Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, Henery Hawk is left in the dark as to what a chicken really looks like (his grandfather made up all kinds of lies about it to dissuade him from accompanying him to get a chicken, as he would get in the way). When he sees Foghorn, he doesn't think that he is a chicken, but rather a "loud-mouthed shnook". The rooster spends much of the cartoon trying to convince Henery otherwise. Eventually, Henery throws a lit stick of dynamite into the barnyard dog's doghouse, and Foghorn tries to stop the dynamite from blowing up, fearing he will get blamed for it. Naturally, he fails; the dynamite explodes, and the dog slams Foghorn against the ground repeatedly as punishment, after which he calls him a "no-good chicken". That's all Henery needs to hear — he knocks out Foghorn with a shovel and drags him off, not caring whether he is a chicken or a shnook, only that he would be good in his oven.
  • The various Peanuts do no have credits for "art" or "animation", but rather "graphic blandishment".
  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz calls a megaphone "Loud-inator", just like how he adds "-inator" to almost all of his own inventions.
  • The Simpsons: "Behold, the two-headed dog, born with only one head! And behold, out of the mists of time, the legendary Esquilax, a horse with the head of a rabbit, and the body... of a rabbit!"
    • Lampshaded when the Simpsons visit Australia and accidentally introduce (Previously somehow unheard of) Bullfrogs to the ecosystem. One native, bewildered at the species' name, states "I would've called 'em Chazzwazzers!"
    • In the "Skinner and the Superintendent" segment of "22 Short Films About Springfield", Skinner tries to invoke this trope by referring to the hamburgers he claims to have cooked (actually Krusty Burgers) as "steamed hams", which he passes off as a colloquialism from Albany, New York.
  • In the The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Royal Drum", Grandpa Smurf tells a story of when he went to Africa. The Smurfs being a reclusive medieval European culture, he obviously doesn't know what the local animals are called so he refers to a giraffe as a "long-necked leaf-eater," a herd of zebras as "black-and-white striped horses" and a lion as a "Smurf-toothed monster cat". The other Smurfs don't believe him until some of the animals are brought to their country by the princess of an African tribe that Grandpa Smurf befriended.
  • Sofia the First:
    • The people of Enchancia celebrate Wassalia, which is a combination between Christmas and Hanukkah. One of the books has Sofia celebrating Christmas with her classmates, but Word of God has dismissed it as non-canon.
    • Subverted in the Elena of Avalor spin-off. Though the people of Avalor celebrate Navidad (which is just the Spanish name for Christmas), Naomi and her family, who are foreigners from Norberg, call the holiday Christmas in a throwaway line.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie": The Hysperians (basically Renaissance Fair enthusiasts who colonized a planet with native dragons) renamed all of their technology to sound like fantasy genre terminology, although it's the same kind of stuff as any spacefaring race uses. Warp drives, for instance, are "dragon's blood engines".
    Rutherford: Uh, the, uh... elf matrix seems like it's—
    Billups: Don't do that.
    Rutherford: Sorry. The subspace field matrix should be online.
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Double Agent Droid" brings back the Legends term "refresher", as opposed to "toilet".
  • Steven Universe:
    • Homeworld call their autonomous machines "robonoids" instead of "robots". Steven had to explain the latter term to Peridot.
    • Played with in the episode "Too Far". After Peridot refers to a screwdriver as a "leverage optimizer", Amethyst decides to have some fun:
      Amethyst: Hey, Peridot, whaddaya call this? [points to her nose]
      Peridot: A scent sponge.
      Amethyst: Okay, what's this? [points to her eye]
      Peridot: Vision sphere.
      Amethyst: Peridot... These? [wiggles fingers]
      Peridot: [irritated] Touch stumps.
      Amethyst: This? [points to foot]
      Peridot: [more irritated] Gravity connector!
      Amethyst: This?! [points to backside]
      Peridot: THAT'S YOUR BUTT!
    • Later on, Amethyst and Steven visit Peridot and Lapis to discover they've turned their new home into a sculpture garden. Except... neither of them know words like "art" or "sculpture".
      Peridot: "Art?" That sounds ridiculous!
      Lapis: [deadpan] I've been calling it... Meep-morp.
      Peridot: Come on! Let me show you our... Morps! [giggles]
  • Superfriends: Done oddly in the 1981 episode "The Aircraft Terror", where a jet plane was transformed into what was clearly a white dragon (four legs, bat-like wings, long neck and reptilian tail, could breathe fire), but everyone kept calling it a "bird monster". They used the same term for the other aircraft that were transformed in turn, even though most of the others were giant insects, and none of them had anything resembling feathers or beaks.
  • The Legend of Zelda example is parodied in the Teen Titans Go! episode, "Video Game References" where Starfire, in a pastiche of the game, comes across a woman trying to rein in a rowdy "coocalacka". "You mean, the chicken?" "Nooooo! Coocalacka!"
  • Downplayed In the Thunder Cats 2011 episode "Song of the Petalars" when Wilykat teases his sister Wilykit for kissing an 8-legged amphibian he calls a "froog" on a dare from him.
  • Transformers does this with anything that didn't specifically originate on Earth, which also helps explain some of the political problems they have. Best example? They're not Cybertronians, even though they all originate from Cybertron. They're either Autobots or Decepticons. Or Sharkticons or Junkions or Velocitrons and so on.

    Real Life 
  • All Disney employees in their businesses, including shops and theme parks are officially called "Cast Members" in order to give an extra level of show-biz imagery to the franchise. Similarly, specific to the parks:
    • Customers are "guests" (this one has caught on with most businesses these days, along with "team members" for employees).
    • Employee uniforms are "costumes".
    • Employees aren't assigned to jobs, but "roles".
    • The employee-only areas are "backstage", while the guest-accessible areas are "on stage".
  • There's a bit of this, combined with Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit", going on with the naming of a number of large species of deer in North America:
    • When Europeans first encountered the species Cervus canadensis in North America, they called it the "elk" after the large deer species of Northern Europe. Unfortunately, they soon found out that European "elk" — Alces alcesalso live in North America. To reduce the confusion, they began calling North American A. alces by the native Algonquian name, "moose".
    • Eventually, Europeans discovered that not only did A. alces live in North America, but C. canadensis lived in East Asia. Because A. alces also lives in East Asia (albeit further north), Europeans decided to call C. canadensis "wapiti" (in addition to "elk"), which is a lesser-known term for C. canadensis from the Cree language in North America.
    • In a less-convoluted form of this, members of the species Rangifer tarandus are called "caribou" when they live in Alaska or the Canadian Arctic... even though when Europeans first encountered them, the exact same animals were known to them in Russia and the Nordic Countries as "reindeer".note 
  • Very young children might do this if they don't know a lot about animals.

Alternative Title(s): Smeerping, Calling A Rabbit A Smeerp