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I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. 'Toaster', 'refrigerator', 'blender' ... all you do is say what the shit does, and add "er". I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute:
"Hey, what does that do?"
"It keeps shit fresh."
"Well, that's a 'fresher'. ... I'm going on break!"

The ability to deduce the name of a creature or device by examining it.

It is not in and of itself strange that a person would come up with a name for the strange alien monster they come across. What makes Namedar strange is that whatever name the observer comes up with — be he a scientist, soldier, or six year old child, it will turn out that this actually is the monster's name, and it will catch on universally.

This is facilitated by the fact that such a name will inevitably reflect some aspect of what the monster does or what it looks like — though it might seem strange that an alien might name itself after an Earth creature it bears a passing resemblance to. Also, from a PR standpoint, as an alien race, calling yourself "The Brainsuckuloids" is going to make it difficult for you to convince any passing humans that you're not interested in sucking out their brains — especially if you do come from the planet Brainsuckulus IV.

At times, we may propose this is all the result of the Translation Convention, though the sorts of shows which do this generally haven't thought it all the way through. Other times, it is based on the concept that every entity has its own metaphysically correct true name.

This is at least Older Than Radio: Mark Twain's Excerpts From Adam's Diary depicts Eve walking around, intuitively naming things based on what they look like; she named Niagara Falls "Niagara Falls" because it looked like Niagara Falls.

When it turns out the nickname isn't the real name after all, it may lead to Accidental Misnaming. On the other hand, characters independently deducing a particularly unlikely name may be played for comedy via Strange Minds Think Alike. Compare Exposition Intuition, when Mr. Exposition can provide exposition they have no way of actually knowing.

Related to Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" (where everyone calls the character by profession because they don't know his name). It may turn out that His Name Really Is "Barkeep".


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Astro Boy 2003 series, Dr. Tenma gets Astro's name from a sign, which includes both his Japanese and English names.
  • In Fate/Apocrypha, Rulers have a Class Skill called True Name Discernment, which lets them automatically identify other Servants. Some Servants like Mordred have the ability to conceal themselves from it, though.
  • In Guardian Fairy Michel, the little girl who found the Winter fairy just happened to give her her real name, Queen.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • The first of the Pillar Men awakened in Battle Tendency never mentioned his own name and was called "Santana" by the ones who unearthed him. Later, the others of his kind refer to him as "Santana" despite having never hearing such a name from the people who came up with it.
    • The first time the audience sees a Stand in Stardust Crusaders, Jotaro makes up the name "Stand" on the spot. From then on, everyone in the world who knows what they are uses the same term. Averted in the anime, where Joseph is the first to use the term and it is not suggested that he coined it.
  • In Death Note, Death Note owners can make a deal with their shinigami and get Shinigami Eyes in exchange for half of their remaining lifespan. Said eyes grant their owner the ability to see a person's name (and remaining lifespan) just by looking at them. Several characters get these, most notably Misa Amane, Kyosuke Higuchi and Teru Mikami.

    Comic Books 
  • In ElfQuest, Cutter names the oasis the wolfriders arrive at early on 'Sorrow's End'. Turns out, that's exactly what the elves living there call it as well...
  • Averted in an Invincible crossover with the Marvel Universe. Invincible is teleported to different realities (against his will) and encounters Batman and Spider-Man. So when the latter introduce him to the Avengers, he tries (and fails) to deduce their names, going with "Robot Man, Claw Man, Flag Man, Fabio Man, Bat-Woman and, uh...Black Man."
  • Averted in The Walking Dead, where different groups have different names for the zombies, such as one group calling them biters, and another calling them 'roamers' and 'lurkers' based on their walking habits.
  • In The Books of Magic, Dr. Occult's other half refuses to tell Tim Hunter her name, saying he needs to find her a name, as a test. Tim sees a rosebush and decides to call her "Rose". Rose Psychic is impressed, but doesn't tell him he was right.
  • Wonder Girl Donna Troy was named "Donna" by the Amazons after she was rescued from a fire as an infant and no one knew her name or past. As it turns out in Who Is Donna Troy?, Donna is her birth name as well.
  • In X-Men#4, Scarlet Witch took her name as an Appropriated Appellation after a supersitious peasant called her that when he saw her use her powers. Scarlet Witch (2015) reveals that this is a hereditary title in the Maximoff family.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld's version of Russia, new Witch Alexandra Mumorovka is challenged by an over-confident Sylph to deduce and tell her its true name. Fortunately, Alexandra has recently read a thick guide to the folklore and nature spirits of Rodinia and has a good memory. Based on what she has read about the Court of the Wind Gods, she uses the approved three guesses to narrow it down to a name which is based on deduction and inspired guesswork. After the enraged Sylph calms down on realising it's been had, it becomes her Familiar as per magical tradition.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, while British wizards use the term "Muggle", American wizards prefer "NoMaj", short for "No Magic".
  • The Graboids and other creatures from Tremors, but only due to the prequel (number 4).

  • Averted in Greg Egan's Diaspora. Among the people studying some newly-discovered organisms is a small group that decides to call them "Wang's Carpets". It doesn't matter what anyone else might choose to call them since their mental translation software would automatically make the substitution as necessary. We're manifestly in on the group because from that point on everyone appears to use the term. (Wondering what if anything they call themselves proves to be the wrong question.)
  • High-level wizards in the Earthsea series are implied to have Namedar for people's True Names, which is used in coming-of-age ceremonies, among other things.
  • In The Last of the Sky Pirates in The Edge Chronicles, Rook sees some creatures and names them Snickets. In The Stone Pilot, a character who lost contact with the outside world before Rook was even born uses the word.
  • In Eifelheim, a 14th-century Catholic priest encounters technologically advanced aliens who tell him (in very rough terms) about various concepts of modern science. The priest, in an effort to understand better, gives the new (to him) concepts names coming from Latin and Greek...which coincidentally happen to be exactly the names used by our twentieth-century science (e.g. he calls one of the aliens' devices a "machine of small voices", mikrofoneh.)
  • The sperm whale in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy names the wind, his tail, and the ground.
  • In Inheritance Cycle it is possible by in-depth analysis to figure out a True Name in Ancient Language of any object or living creature which gives you full control over it.
  • Lampshaded: In a Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson story, Maureen posits (in a narrated aside) that the Japanese government keeps a list of names to apply to new kaiju, as they turn up, just like weather bureaus keep for hurricanes.
  • A mundane example in the YA book Speak: Melinda nicknames an antagonistic teacher "Mr. Neck" in her narration, because he has a thick neck. Later a piece of Bathroom Stall Graffiti refers to him by the same name. Maybe this is the Translation Convention at work for the reader's benefit, maybe the author forgot that wasn't his real name, or maybe it is his real name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: In a flashback, Doctor Stuart Power identifies Soaron on first sight as a "BioDredd". Given that the BioDredds are based in part on his own research, it's reasonable that he would know what that class of being was called. What makes somewhat less sense is that "BioDredd" is apparently a scientific term with a rigorously-defined taxonomic definition for that type of creature, possibly even the name Doctor Power himself came up with in his plans to construct peaceful robotic helpers.
  • Doctor Who does this from time to time.
    • The Silurians call themselves by that name, despite the fact that "Silurian" is an English word, and a total misnomer, as it refers to a geological period long before their race developed. Their cousins the Sea Devils are another example. Both races started using the names in a later story in which they both appeared (in the same episode, the Doctor mentions the inaccuracy of "Silurian"), which suggests it's more of a case of A Name You Are Comfortable With.
      • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, the preferred term is "Earth Reptiles". Steven Moffat seems to prefer the term "Homo reptilia", which is even worse, since it suggests they share a genus with Homo sapiens.
    • Likewise, the Ice Warriors are often cited in this respect. (Especially as their very name alerts enemies to the fact that they are not big fans of heat. More than one critic has pointed out that had they called themselves "Fire Warriors", no-one would have ever thwarted their plans.)
      • Lampshaded in Dan Abnett's New Series novel The Silent Stars Go By. When Amy calls them "Ice Men", the Doctor comments that no-one ever gets their name right, "not even them", because the first time he met them Victoria invented the term Ice Warriors, but from then on they called themselves that. When Amy continues to call them "Ice Men", he snaps "It's not even like it's a difficult name to remember, like Jagrafess or Castrovalva. I mean, a friend of mine just made it up on the spot."
    • For that matter, in the first episode of the series, Susan claims that the name "TARDIS" is one that she'd made up on the spot based on how the machine works, but later we find that it has become the universally accepted name for such machines. (This has prompted a number of fan theories about Susan's past.) When asked about this, one writer simply said "She was a very influential young lady."

      • Could be chalked up to Translation Convention with Susan being the first person to give a TARDIS a name in English, the Translation Circuit could always make humans hear it as TARDIS
      • It's worth noting that in the Faction Paradox spin-offs, Time Lords call their vehicles timeships with TARDIS just being the name of the one that The Doctor owns. Although this may be more to do with Writing Around Trademarks, since they don't call themselves Time Lords either.
    • Mocked in "Dalek", where Henry van Statten has named a Dalek "Metaltron".
    • In "Love & Monsters", the Abzorbaloff deliberately adopts the name the humans come up with for it because it likes the sound. The Doctor later comes up with the same name on the third try. Captain Jack's Monster File for the Slitheen shows that they are related to the Abzorbalovian Rebels.
    • In "The Waters of Mars", The Virus originally introduced itself to the Doctor as "the Flood". This scene was cut, but the name was used a few times in the episode anyway. This is a mild example, though, since "the Flood" is a fairly obvious name for the alien in question.
    • Played for laughs in "The Time of Angels":
      The Doctor: They're not stabilisers! They're boring-ers! Blue boring-ers!
    • Spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures gets into the act as well — the name "The Trickster" was coined by Alan Jackson, but said villain began using the name from his second appearance onwards.
  • Averted by the 2007 Flash Gordon; Dr. Zarkov coins the term "rift blaster" for the device the Mongonians use to cross between Earth and Mongo. While Flash and Dale adopt the term, the Mongonians continue to use their own name for the device.
  • Legends of Tomorrow retroactively does this to Vixen: in her own animated series (which is in Arrowverse continuity), Cisco came up with the name and she decided she liked it; the second season of Legends reveals that her grandmother used the Spirit Totem as a member of the Justice Society, also under the name Vixen.
  • Power Rangers: Sometimes there's actually a reason for knowing a Monster of the Week's name (as in Power Rangers S.P.D., where the alien monsters were all wanted criminals with outstanding warrants), but usually it appears that Mission Control can literally deduce the names of things by scanning them, even if they were just created very recently.
  • Stargate: Upon arriving at the city of Atlantis, there's some argument about whether to call the ships they find, which are clearly intended to go through the Stargate, "Puddle Jumpers" or "Gate Ships". The former is adopted by the Atlantis expedition, but one episode reveals that "Gate Ship" is what the original Atlanteans called them (through Translation Convention), and the whole thing's become something of a running gag since. And the "life-signs detector". It's accurate, sure, but it hardly rolls off the tongue. Not to mention its acronym.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In In Nomine, a Seraph in service to the Archangel Yves automatically learns the true name of any sapient being it touches, as well as the correct name of any object it handles.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Backfired against a daemon during the Heresy: During a battle with the Space Wolves, the daemon tried to pull an I Know Your True Name on one by calling him "Bear". While Bjorn does indeed mean "bear" in Fenrisian, the daemon was pulling the names from its victims' minds, and thus it didn't work.

  • Transformers, to a degree, are guilty of this. While nobody's ever guessed their names, most seem strangely appropriate once known (such as a character with the power to turn invisible being named Mirage). To be fair, the Transformers themselves have been known to change their names to match when they get new forms and abilities.
    • While the re-naming is true of Beast Wars, the original G1 cartoon & comic had some Fridge Logic when one considers that Bumblebee was called that before coming to Earth. At the time the Transformers had never met organic life forms (which is why Teleetraan 1 confuses cars and planes as the dominant lifeforms) so the Transformers do not even have a concept of what is a Bumblebee!
      • In fact, while the oldest known bees date to the Cretaceous age, the Bombus genus, to which bumblebees belong only dates back 35 million years. In some versions of the Transformers universe, Bumblebee predates actual bumblebees.
      • According to the movies they picked names they liked or closest fit their real names in the process of learning English. Whatever his Cybertronian name is, it's likely to be close or in the feeling of Bumblebee.
      • It was also common for G1 Transformers to name-drop robotic equivalents of Real Life animals, so it's possible Cybertron might have actually had some bee-like native Mechanical Lifeforms after which the character was originally named. Calling him "Bumblebee" would thus be a translation to the English name of this robotic "bee"'s organic counterpart.
  • Similarly, My Little Pony characters tend to have names that reflect their special talent and/or cutie mark, with a few exceptions.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger: Ayla calls Lavos such because in her language (which is never mentioned before or after) "la vos" means "big fire" (Lavos came down as a giant fireball in her time). How scientists living a few million years in the future know to call it that is another matter.
  • Subverted in Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: when the extraterrestrial "Inspectors" invade Earth, one character surmises they are the "Guests", but the Inspectors state they aren't yet are surprised the Earthlings are aware of the latter. Turns out the Inspectors and Guests are two different organizations that are part of an intergalactic government called the "Zuvorg Alliance". Also averted earlier with the Balmarians who are called dubbed the "Aerogators" by The Federation, but they don't converse enough with humans to ever hear this codename.
  • Diablo has an old man who actually works as the resident Namedar: his job is to identify any unknown item you pick up so you can sell it. Under the hood, an object's name in Diablo is calculated as a function of its various attributes (for example, the suffix "of the Tiger" refers to a specific attack modifier), so in the model world of the game, Namedar is a real physical law, and names following the pattern will be automatically deduced for, say, novel items created using a game editor.
  • Spoofed in the first Simon the Sorcerer game. Early in the game you have to gain the assistance of a group of wizards, but they insist they're not wizards (so they won't have to do anything). Most sensible comments on why they must be wizards is deflected; the proper choice is to tell them that the text says "wizards" when you drag the pointer over them.
  • In Touhou Project, Rinnosuke's ability tells him the name and function of any object just by looking at it. This is pretty useful, seeing as he deals in objects from the outside world that most anyone else in Gensokyo wouldn't know about. Unfortunately, the info isn't perfect; his power doesn't tell him how to work the danged things, or where to find fuel for them, etc. For example: his power told him that an iPod can "store and play a lot of music", but he has no clue how to store music or make it play (and he doesn't know how to use a computer without shorting them, so he's SOL anyway). And he thought a Game Boy was an Artifact of Doom because his power told him that it "Controls everything; making people fight, starting wars, and possibly even destroying worlds". What it neglected to tell him is that all the stuff it controls is imaginary.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena refers to most enemies by name when they appear. The trope is lampshaded and justified once she starts naming Aurum enemies.
    Palutena: Well, you can't actually pronounce Aurum names so... I took a few liberties.
  • Sent up in Luminous Arc 2, where a character mentions Silver Magic, prompting the other Witches (who all use various elemental magic) to compare notes and eventually conclude none of them have ever heard of it. The first character admits that's mostly because she made the name up on the spot.
  • The Pokédex in the Pokémon games and anime will provide names for Pokémon who were previously undiscovered. Justified in most cases as Pokémon are named after the noises they make and the ones that don't can talk and will say their names when asked. There are a few rare species that don't make any specific noise and don't talk, however. In these cases, what a Pokédex says goes.
  • Played with in Pillars of Eternity. Grieving Mother's lack of name and unassuming appearance on the world map (dressed in dirty greys in a dirty, grey village) might make an inattentive player assume she's a generic village NPC until talking to her. (Except that she's clearly marked on the map with text, as only potential party members are.) Later, an option comes up in early conversations with her to ask her why she's known as Grieving Mother. She'll point out she never actually called herself that (or anything), but accepts it as an apt title.

    Web Animation 
  • In gen:LOCK, Dr. Weller explains to Chase the origins of the mysterious Humongous Mecha that's been hounding the heroes, calling it "Your nemesis." In the next episode, Cammie refers to the mech as Nemesis as if that's its name, with no indication that she knows Weller called it that. The heroes treat Nemesis as the entity's name from then on. Then again, there's no indication that anyone on the enemy's side ever called the thing Nemesis.
    • Also, Cammie, Weller, and Nemesis all, apparently independently, come up with calling a person's first time piloting a Holon as their "birthday". It's likely that Weller coined the term, which would explain where Nemesis got it, but Cammie is singing "Happy Birthday" to herself before the first time Weller says it onscreen.

  • Spoofed in 8-Bit Theater: Black Mage tells the other Light Warriors about his encounter with a dark god who gave him his class change. The others don't believe him and ask for the dark god's name as proof. Unfortunately, said god didn't state his name so Black Mage makes up the name "Darko, Dark God of the Dark" on the spot.
  • This It's Walky! strip. "Whenever we mention we're from the planet Alien, we get the strangest looks!"
  • Apparently, Namedar is an inherent ability of Goblin Shamans in the pseudo-D&D world of Goblins. When a new goblin is born, the Shaman somehow predicts their future traits, skills, talents, and/or fate, and gives them an appropriate name. Which can be quite unfortunate if you name happens to be 'Dies Horribly'. Amusingly, Minmax the Barbarian displays some Namedar-like skills early on when he fights Complains Of Names...though guessing his name was made somewhat easier by the fact that Complains Of Names was complaining about his name at the time.
  • Indx, a Pixl in L's Empire can identify the name of anything, and snark, that's pretty much it.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Two groups of physicists working independently in 1940, one at Berkeley, and one at Cambridge University, both did theoretical work finding reactions that would produce two new elements after uranium. Independently, both groups had decided to call these elements neptunium and plutonium. Not too amazing a coincidence when you consider the fact that uranium is named for Uranus, and the next two planets in line are Neptune and Pluto (the latter still having been considered a major planet at the time). Referenced in Harry Turtledove's TL-191 Alternate History series, where one group of scientists comes up with the Real Life names, while the others decide to work backwards through planets instead and calls them saturnium and jovium.
  • Real life (as far as we know) subverted this in the case of the word "robotics". When Isaac Asimov first used the term, he thought it was already used because of it being a natural extrapolation of the word robot. He's currently considered to have coined the term.
  • This might have happened for the word "hobbit". The story goes that the opening line "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit" came to J. R. R. Tolkien in a flash of inspiration while he was grading exams. He then rationalized it (and explained it in-universe) as coming from Old English holbytla, "hole-dweller". But that word had appeared in a list of supernatural creatures from a book published in 1895, listed next to "hobgoblin" among other names for fairy folk or little people. When this was pointed out, Tolkien claimed to never have read that book. The list only named the creatures, giving no description, so whether those hobbits are anything like Tolkien's is anyone's guess.
  • The Mexican-Spanish word for hummingbird is "chuparrosa" or literally "rose sucker" as it comes from the words "chupar" or "to suck" and "rosa" or "rose". The similarly named plant, Justicia californica, is called "chuparosa", or "hummingbird bush".
    • Similarly, the vampiric cryptid known as chupacabra means "goatsucker".