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Pleased to meet you; I'm Caption.

Alexandria: This "Odious" — he bad man?
Roy: Oh yeah.
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A name that has a direct, barely-hidden meaning to it. The first, second/third/middle/nth, last, or full name says something primal about the character. Often has multiple layers. To hide the meaning a bit, use an alternate spelling or foreign equivalent. Instead of writers having to make up random words or think of real names, they can use mythological names or old words.

As an example, it is common to use for heroic characters names associated with hunting. So, apart from Hunter, which is a valid first and last name in English, you can use a translation to another language (Jäger, or the phonetic Yeager); the name of a predatory animal (Wolf, Hawk) or a translation of that (Wolfe, Lupin, Lupis, Wulf); or Orion, the constellation of The Hunter. Which is kinda cool, which is why this can double up with "Awesome McCool" Name.

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Often, the characters in-universe are completely unaware that a name has any meaning, and act as if the name was just like any other. If this is the case, the name is a sort of Unusually Uninteresting Sight. This can be Played for Laughs when the characters are Comically Missing the Point, or alternatively, can become a Chekhov's Gun if the name turned out to be an important plot device.

Sometimes used more subtly; the Meaningful Name only becomes obvious in hindsight, but when the clincher is revealed it's a moment of "Now how did I miss that?"

Self-chosen names can manifest this naturally, but may make the character look arrogant if the symbolism is too blatant. This can be a problem with bestowed names as well; although the character didn't create it, if he accepts it without much objection, the effect is similar.

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Very common in cartoons, where the meaning is most times not hidden at all, except that the target audience may not have the vocabulary to get the joke. Also common in Anime, since Japanese names have a lot of obvious literal meaning to start with note . See notes at Theme Naming.

Real-life examples of this are often referred to as "aptronyms". The magazine New Scientist refers to it as "nominative determinism" in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and encourages people to send examples in. The proper name for this trope is "charactonym".

This goes back to the Bible and probably turns up in the books of other religions, due to the way that names in many different cultures had significance beyond the merely cosmetic.

When additions or alterations to names signify stronger versions of said beings, that's Tiered by Name. Compare Named After Somebody Famous, They Call Him "Sword". Contrast with Nonindicative Name. Also compare/contrast with Ironic Name. See also Names to Run Away from Really Fast, which is about names indicating power and villainy and heavily overlaps with this trope, and Punny Name, which many of these names fall into as well. Can also be related to Dead Guy Junior if the naming is intended to symbolize a deceased in-universe character's legacy in some way.


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    Audio Plays 
  • When Datu from We're Alive meets Samantha in the arena she is very stoic about their fate. She eventually tells him that she "lost Hope." When Datu tries to reassure her, she tells him that she meant her daughter, whose name is Hope. She left her behind when their building got overrun by zombies. Later, after Samnatha's death, Datu becomes extremely bleak and fatalistic. He's doesn't really pull out of it until Michael, Pegs and Kelly return from the Colony, having found Hope.

    Arts 
  • Marriage A-la-Mode:
    • The old Earl of Squanderfield has done exactly that with his family fortune. Even before he dies, his son and daughter-in-law are living up to the family name with chronic financial irresponsibility; the Viscount gambles and spends money on women, while the Viscountess buys a wide assortment of truly ugly ornaments.
    • The lawyer drawing up the paperwork for the marriage who has a long-term affair with the bride is seen in The Marriage Settlement whispering into her ear, his words evidently having a powerful enough effect to attract and keep her attention until their deaths. Silvertongue by name, silver tongue by nature.
    • The French barber-surgeon whom the Viscount visits in The Inspection is identified on the documents next to the mechanical contraptions he has invented as Monsieur de la Pillule, which approximately translates as "Mr. Pill". Aptly, he is treating the Viscount and one or both of the ladies for syphilis with mercury pills (the standard treatment for the disease in the 18th century).

    Comic Strips 

    Podcasts 
  • Some Sequinox characters have them. Yukiko, aka Yuki aka Winter, contains "Yuki", the Japanese word for snow. Hannah, aka Spring's name is phonetically the same as "Hana", meaning blossom in Japanese. And of course her last name is also Flowers.

    Roleplay 

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios:
    • EVAC in Transformers: The Ride is an Autobot that handles evacuations.
    • The fire and ice dragons in Dueling Dragons are named Pyrock and Blizzrock, respectively.
    • Cindy Caine from Halloween Horror Nights has a twofer, though the second meaning is most likely a coincidence. 1) It sounds like Sindy, and she's just as much of a Creepy Child as that implies. 2) It resembles the word "cinder", and her second and third backstories both involve fire (being burned to death when an angry mob torched her father's home in the second, burning down the orphanage she lived at herself in the third).
  • Weeki Wachee Springs. "Weeki Wachee" means "Little Spring" or "Winding River" in Seminole Indian.

    Toys 
  • LEGO at one point caused quite a controversy for trying to trademark words from the Maori language as BIONICLE names. These included Tohunga (craftsman, name of the resourceful villagers), Toa (champion, name of the heroes), Turaga (village chief), Kanohi (face, used as masks in BIONICLE), and a collection of others. After the controversy, which had forced LEGO to change a few of these names (most famously Tohunga to Matoran), they began using made-up words, although the online games occasionally still took meaningful words from existing languages like Finnish, Egyptian, Hawaiian, Hungarian or Japanese — however these weren't trademarked, and the few that were had to have their spellings changed. A lot of the made-up names also have clear meanings:
    • Axonn: carries a mighty axe
    • Brutaka: a brutal brute
    • Barraki: undersea mutants, named after barracuda:
    • Hydraxon and Hydruka: in reference to the underwater setting
    • Spinax: a spiny creature
    • the Phantoka Makuta have bat-themed names:
      • Antroz: Antrozous pallidus or pallid bat
      • Chirox and his Matoran partner Kirop: chiroptera, the order of the bats
      • Vamprah: vampire
    • most of the Light and Shadow Matoran have light-based names:
      • Tanma: tan
      • Radiak: radiation
      • Photok: photon
      • Solek: Sol, or Sun
    • Vultraz, an evil Matoran manning a black-and-gray jet: vulture
    • Mistika: fighters in the mist
    • Bitil and Krika, two Makuta suffering Mode Lock as insects: beetle and cricket
    • Mutran, a Makuta specializing in mutations and transformations
    • Icarax: Icarus — in the sense that he liked to aim too high, not that his wings stopped working
    • Ignika, a mask used to re-ignite the life of Mata Nui
    • Voya Nui, a floating island: voyage
    • Karda Nui, Mata Nui's heart-chamber: cardiac
    • Rockoh: a jet operated by Pohatu, a Stone-element character
    • Jetrax: another jet
    • Axalara: accelerate
    • Umbra: real Latin name that has the same meaning in-universe, darkest part of a shadow. Actually a deceptive name, since he has light-powers
    • Skirmix: a steed used in skirmishes
    • Fero: a ferocious bandit
    • Boxor: a mech that punches
    • Bara Magna, the desert planet: from "barren"
    • Aqua Magna, the water planet (literally means "great/powerful water")
    • Bota Magna, the jungle planet
    • Solis magna, Bara magna's sun - Literally, "great sun"
    • a lot of elemental suffixes are meaningful:
      • Ba-: gravity, from the Greek baros (weight)
      • Bo-: green, again from botanics
      • Ce-: psionics, from cerebrum (brain)
      • De-: sonics, from decibel
      • Fa-: magnetism, from Michael Faraday, who studued electromagnetism
      • Fe-: iron
      • Su-: plasma, from superheating (kind of a stretch, but that's the official explanation)
    • And of course almost all the names have their own in-universe meanings in the fictional BIONICLE languages

    Web Animation 
  • An Adventure of Sheep and Chicken: The titular characters' names refer to their species.
  • Alfred Alfer, the mentally disturbed pitbull from Alfred's Playhouse takes his name from the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, diagnostician of the inferiority complex.
  • Dr. Upsetrose of Garnet and Gure is a mad scientist who, in his appearance in Super Effective, furiously declares how "upset" he is.
  • Most if not all characters from Happy Tree Friends, sometimes to the point of double meanings. Nutty is a hyperactive to the point of insanity squirrel, Handy is a skilled carpenter and mechanic who happens to lack hands, The Mole both is and has a mole, the list goes on.
  • Homestar Runner is a "terrific athlete". Strong Bad has boxing glove hands and a wrestling mask head, and is a "bad guy". Strong Mad and Strong Sad are Dumb Muscle and The Eeyore, respectively. The Cheat loves to cheat. Pom Pom is a big round ball.
  • Lucky Day Forever: "Proles" are most likely derived from the word "proletariat", and the Whites have porcelain doll-white skin. "Sasiadka" literally means "neighbor" in Polish.
  • Random Comment Guy from the Pimp Lando series is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's later revealed that his name is actually Guy Bergeson (though in an earlier episode he was revealed to be Ricardo Montalban).
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Leonard Church. Means nothing at first, but in Reconstruction, after Church is revealed to be an AI, we hear the Director of Project Freelancer narrate an Epilogue Letter about how all AIs are based off of a human mind. He then signs off with his own name, Doctor Leonard Church.
    • And then there's Project Freelancer's cleanup crew, who are headed by Agent Washington, also known as 'Wash'.
  • RWBY: As per the "Color Naming Rule", all named characters must have a name which is (or is at least refers to) a color.
    • The main character is named Ruby Rose, and is associated with red and roses. Weiss Schnee literally translates to Snow White in German, which she is themed around. Blake is a first name generally given to boys that means "black" in Old English, also alluding to her Color Motif; in addition, her last name Belladonna refers to the the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Finally, Yang Xiao Long translates to roughly "Little Sun Dragon" in Chinese, hinting at both her Color Motif (again) and her fire-based abilities. And that's just the main cast.
    • Nora Valkyrie is a Blood Knight Action Girl, as befits her Viking surname. Nora is also the name that Thor, the God of Thunder, takes up when he attempts to get back his legendary hammer.
    • Pyrrha Nikos' surname translates to "victor of the people", referencing her status as The Ace and her compassion for those weaker than her. Her first name means 'flame-colored', and predicts her bright red hair. "Pyrrha" is also said to be the name Achilles took when he crossdressed to hide. She is also struck down the same way Achilles was. On top of that, her full name brings to mind the phrase "Pyrrhic Victory", which very much describes her defeat of Penny in the Vytal Festival tournament.
    • Ruby and Yang's father is Taiyang Xiao Long, "Great Sun Dragon." This also adds an extra layer of meaning to Yang's name, as she is basically named "Junior."
    • Professor Ozpin, one of only two characters without a color-related name, is a reference to the title character of The Wizard of Oz, whose names formed the anagram OZPINHEAD. He's heavily associated with the color green, is highly secretive, and possess knowledge and abilities others lack.
    • The series Big Bad, Salem, is the other character without a color-related name. She is named for Salem, Massachusetts, the city infamous for the Salem Witch Trials, in which a populace was overcome with fear, paranoia, and malice, leading humans to blame each other for a crisis of their own design and sentence each other to meaningless deaths, dividing them through their own fears, vices, and dependence on a higher authority. This is exactly how Salem operates, sowing division from the shadows. She herself is also a witch, with chalk-white skin, black veins, red eyes, and genuine magic at her disposal.
    • Probably Invoked by Cinder Fall, who plots to become the Fall Maiden, and eventually succeeds. Raven even lampshades by saying she "has a last name so appropriate she probably chose it herself." Cinder doesn't argue the point, so it's probably true.
    • Raven's subordinate Vernal, the Spring Maiden, has a name that literally means "pertaining to spring." Except she was never the real Spring Maiden, just a decoy—meaning Raven mocking Cinder's ridiculously appropriate name was actually a hint that she had done something similar herself.
    • Even the name of the world RWBY is set in, Remnant. Remnant was once a High Fantasy paradise world; the gods lived alongside mortals and magic was a powerful force that everybody could use. Salem, driven by anguish and spite, led mankind to war against the gods, who retaliated by erasing mankind in an instant and then departing, vowing to return only when the time was right to place final judgement on mankind. Humans eventually came back into existence (along with the Faunus), but their old civilizations were rendered into dust and they retain only a tiny fraction of the power they once had.
    • The unique superpowers everyone has are called "Semblances." Humanity once had access to true magic that anyone could use, but when humanity rebelled against the gods, the God of Darkness took his gift of magic back before he destroyed the human race. When humanity returned, they only had access to a mere semblance of that magic.
  • The Legend of Korah has this to the point of being ridiculous. Even the World's name, Terra Altsoba means Earth at War.

    Web Original 
  • Some of the Gaia Online labtechs have meaningful numbers. 247 was a workaholic (to the point where he actually got a cot for his office so he could be there 24/7), 101 was not very intelligent for a professional scientist, and 013 was killed off at the beginning, among others.
  • The name of the Big Bad in Greek Ninja is Creon. Creon is also the name of the antagonist in Antigone.
  • Killerbunnies:
    • Experiment XI0014101's alternative name "Marigold" is rather fitting in that it is a sunny flower and that she is known for her rather sunny personality. Floral symbolism wise, it serves as an Ironic Name, as marigolds tend to symbolize grief or sorrow.
    • Oleander Cloris's name is both names meaning very much green (oleander is known to be an evergreen shrub and Cloris literally means green) as she does wear a green dress and has green eyes. On a note, according to her profile, she is known for spewing venom, however, this also doubles as a Flower Motif, in that oleanders symbolize honesty, something that she is.
    • Shiyu's name could translate to "red jade", which is interesting, seeing as she wears red and she also wears something made of jade. Like Shiyu, Kanran's name allude to her clothing, which makes her look like a cabbage.
    • Cerise's real name "Hyacinth" is a purple cluster of flowers and her hair is purple.
    • Eira's name in itself is winter or ice-related, which has something do with where she's from or, rather, presumably, how she died, which was stated to be in "one of the coldest parts of the world".
    • Ardie's name is somewhat of a reference to her color scheme, as begonias are pink flowers and Pinkerton is a surname with the word pink in it. Likewise, Turquoises' name alludes to her color scheme.
    • Arachne's name is a allusion to her spider motif that she wears.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Liam Smith Show that parodied Star Trek: Voyager: a console explosion results in the deaths of Ensign Deadmeat, Ensign Numbersup, Ensign Futurecorpse and Ensign Imgoingtodieahorribledeathonanawaymissonorwhenastationimatexplodes. (He's Dutch.) However, Ensign Expendable, introduced earlier in the episode, doesn't die.
  • Tornadoes and Blood Scouts in Lightning Dust, due to wind powers/swirling misty lower bodies and being minor BloodKnights, respectively.
  • Common with the Protectors of the Plot Continuum, especially as many agents are Only Known by Their Nickname. Shout-Out names are common, and some agents are from continua where symbolic or prophetic (such as with Tolkienverse elves' mother-names) names are widespread.
  • Reasoning has an antagonist named the Venator. "Venator" is latin for "hunter," and the Venator spends the story hunting human beings for sport.
  • The eponymous hero's name in The Saga of Tuck has a meaning to female impersonators and MtF transsexuals.
  • Tales of MU has half-demon protagonist Mackenzie Blaise, whose first name can be read to mean "fire-born" and her unknown brother, Aidan, whose name means "fiery". Other characters have significance in their names, to the point where some readers look up the name of every new character who appears. Indeed, there can be frustration and complaint if a juicy new name appears and linguistic analysis doesn't quickly follow in the comments section.
  • What Is This Black Magic You Call Science?'s heroine, Chryseis. She vomits egyptian plagues via her womb connecting to her throat, and can decimate planets. Ironic in that she is actively trying to save people.
  • Plenty of supers in the Whateley Universe:
    • Notorious supervillain Dr. Diabolik (Leonides Diabliku) and his children, Jadis Diabolik and Mal Diabolik. Jadis even moreso, because she suspects that their Missing Mom is actually the superheroine White Witch, and Jadis is the name of the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia.
    • Wyatt Cody (Kodiak), an Avatar bonded with the spirit of the Kodiak bear (it later turns out that it's more complicated than that).
    • Paine Deth, who naturally enough grew up to get a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate in Mad Science.
    • Stella Woolfe (Lupine), who is the incarnation of a wolf spirit; as explained in her entry in the fan wiki, both of her parents were distant descendants of a Native American tribe that had made a pact with the spirit centuries earlier to provide the spirit with a human host, but neither of them knew about it until after she was born.
    • Harry Wolfe (Techwolf, no relation to Stella) and his father Red Wolfe, who suffer from a family curse. Whether the curse is their werewolf-like appearance or their terribly punny names is up for debate.
    • Jay Blue Lake (Bluejay), an Avatar with the spirit of the Bluejay. However, given that he is a member of the Medawhila tribe, and was already chosen to study under Totem as the tribe's lorekeeper when he manifested, this may have been arranged rather than by chance.
    • June Summers (Majestic), the Incarnation of Hera/Juno. Again, given how the Olympians chose their human forms, it is possible Hera influenced her parent's choice of name.
  • As in most superhero fiction, this kind of thing is common in Worm — the best example is probably Accord, whose name means "agreement or harmony of things in general"note , and whose most basic desire in life is the harmonious order of everything.

    Web Videos 
  • 5 Second Films has such characters as Johnny Quickdeath and Dealbreaker Jones:
    "Damn you Dealbreaker Jones, that wasn't part of the DEAAAALLLLL!"
  • Critical Role: The name of the sentient sword "Craven Edge" is an anagram of "Vecna Greed", alluding to the evil god of secrets and the weapon's perpetual hunger for blood.
  • In Decker, the characters Decker and Kington are named for their actors, Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dead from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared are, well, dead.
  • Lilsimsie, a YouTuber who makes Sims 4 videos, is actually named Kayla Sims.
  • Big Shine, a clone of Matthew Santoro, has that name because he's The Big Guy.
  • Noob:
    • In French gaming speak, the word "Kevin" has a meaning that can overlap with that of "Noob". The titular guild has an actual Noob in it and his real-life first name was probably the easiest one to choose for the series creator. Kevin's last name is "Lepape", which would be like being called "ThePope" in English; his character is a priest.
    • Kary, if only phonetically so. The way her Online Alias is pronounced in French makes is sound just like the word for a tooth cavity. Since, story-wise, she ends up existing for the sole purpose of eventually putting Arthéon in a state of mind that makes him disband the Noob guild and briefly question his friendship with his former guildmates, it sounds awfully appropriate.
  • Curiosa from The Nostalgia Critic's Mad Max: Fury Road is the only one curious enough to hear Critic out instead of attempting to kill him.
  • Dr. Tease, a character in The Nostalgia Chick's show, is a Hot Scientist. What a shock.
  • The Guards Themselves has the character Lincoln, who creates pennies from thin air. Just pennies.

    Real Life 
  • "C++" is a computer language that's an improved version of the "C" computer language. The Meaningful Name, as well as Pun (if you understand the computer language) kicks in when you know "++" is an affix within "C" that when attached to a variable, increases its value. Thus the name "C++" means "C improved/taken Up to Eleven" - which it is.
    • Similarly C# (pronounced C Sharp) has two interpretations. First is from the musical term, where a sharp is a "higher" pitch version of the tone, and so C# is a higher version of C. Or you can take two "++" operators and stack them, producing the # character. Or "C++ improved"
  • It's weirdly poetic and funny that the guy responsible for the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time is named Bernie Madoff (pronounced "made-off", as in "he made off with millions of dollars").
  • There's a sort of poetic justice in the U.S. Supreme Court case striking down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the country being titled Loving v. Virginia.
  • In 2003, astronomers discovered an object in the outer solar system that was larger than Pluto. This, a long with the discovery of other similar objects in that same era, kicked off a 3 year long debate among astronomers about whether ought to remain classified as a planet. This culminated in Pluto being demoted from its status as a planet, and the object in question being named Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, due to all of the arguments it caused.
    • Its discoverers originally suggested naming it "Xena", after the Lucy Lawless character. It has a moon. Named Dysnomia, after the Greek spirit of lawlessness.
  • One of the most notorious cocaine traffickers was Griselda Blanco Restrepo. Commonly called just Griselda Blanco. That's right, the "Cocaine Godmother" was named Griselda White.
  • Prohibition advocate and cult person Carry A. Nation (the A stands for Amelia) took advantage of her meaningful name in speeches where she promised she would "carry a nation" towards prohibition. Her adversaries and critics also joked about it, with the phrase "All Nations welcome except Carry" becoming a bar-room slogan. She eventually had her own name trademarked.
  • Actor Tod Slaughter (think Dastardly Whiplash) had such stage name, which makes sense for someone who made a habit of playing serial killers (and maintaining Kayfabe). His real name, though - Norman Slaughter.
  • Considered North America's greatest racehorse of all time (with the possible exception of Secretariat), Man o' War was defeated only once in his career, by a horse named Upset.
  • American senator George McGovern.
  • Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, thaler being an old European silver coin.
  • Hollywood director Tim Story.
  • Usain Bolt, Olympic sprinter, is the world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay.
  • Quite a few U.S. college rivalries have this type of name, sometimes unusually specific. Examples of "unusually specific" include (but are not limited to):
    • Battle of the Boulevard: Nashville rivalry, primarily in basketball, between Belmont and Lipscomb, with the schools being separated by a bit over 2 miles (4 km) of Belmont Boulevard.
    • Battle of the Domes: A recently applied name to the long-standing rivalry between Idaho and Idaho State. The reference is to the fact that both schools play football in domed stadiums (and, at least through the 2020–21 season, also play men's basketball in said facilities).note 
    • Battle of 33rd Street: Philadelphia rivalry, also primarily in basketball, between Drexel and Penn, with campuses that share a physical border and basketball arenas separated by 3 blocks of 33rd Street.
    • Causeway Classic: College football rivalry between Sacramento State and UC Davis, public schools separated by about 11 miles/18 km. The "Causeway" in question is the Yolo Causeway, which carries Interstate 80 over a flood bypass that had once been a seasonal barrier to transportation between the two cities.
    • Revolutionary Rivalry: Washington, D.C.-area rivalry between George Mason, in the Virginia suburbs, and George Washington, in the District proper. Both schools were named after Founding Fathers whose plantations were in Mason's (the school's) home area of modern-day Fairfax County.
  • Randy Rainbow, a Youtuber known for his political parody songs, is openly gay and was indeed born with the name Rainbow (his father had it changed from "Ribner" before he was born).
  • After Reggie Fils-Aime retired from Nintendo's American branch, who replaced him? Doug Bowser. That's right, the Mario Brothers' eternal arch-enemy has taken over Nintendo!
  • Ever head of/drank the popular Tito's Vodka? Well the "Tito" in the name is a reference to its owner Tito Beveridge. It's not spelled the same way as beverage but is pronounced the same.
  • MAGA, an acronym for Make America Great Again, is a Nigerian slang term referring to an idiot who's easily led by a conman. Donald Trump, who popularized the phrase and its acronym, has long been accused of being a conman by his opponents (and let's leave it at that), and the journalist who discovered the Nigerian meaning of MAGA did not let it go unnoticed.
  • Chinese Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang, with Liu being his surname and Xiang meaning "soar".
  • Country Music singer Steve Wariner has the middle name "Noel" because he was born on Christmas Day (December 25). Naturally, he lampshades this on his first Christmas album.
  • Retired baseball player Cecil Fielder. And his son, Prince Fielder, also a baseball player.


Alternative Title(s): Significant Name, Appropriate Name, Nomen Est Omen, The Name Says It All

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