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"I was just thinkin'. About goldfish. Even though they are called 'goldfish' they aren't gold-colored, are they? They are red, right? The 'blue light' on traffic lights too, aren't they green? Things like that make me sick..."
Yuno, Hidamari Sketch

Have you ever noticed how sometimes, pickles are really salty?

That's the sort of thing this article would be about if it were a Self-Demonstrating Article. But it isn't. That would be silly.

A birthday cake is a cake you eat on your birthday. That makes sense. But a butterfly is not a fly, a ten-gallon hat can't even hold one gallon, and a peanut is not a nut — and don't even get us started on peanut butter. Words or combinations of words like this whose meaning has nothing to do with their name are known as misnomers.

Mostly for historical reasons the misnomer sticks and nobody—or almost nobody—bats an eyelid when it is used, since it is well accepted and people know what it means; this particular variant is a common result of calling Smeerps "rabbits". A Cloudcuckoolander character and punster tropers are likely to hang a lampshade on these from time to time, complain that contents of the tin differ from the label (or that the tin itself is not made of tin), and that there's no baby in baby food.


When the name once fit but no longer does, see Artifact Title. If the name is itself an element of deliberate deception, it may be Doublespeak or a Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom.

For series with nonindicative names, see Word Salad Title and Never Trust a Title. For songs, see Non-Appearing Title. Fluffy the Terrible, Deathbringer the Adorable, Ironic Name, Ironic Nickname and Sarcastic Title are subtropes of this.

Contrary to Exactly What It Says on the Tin. See In Name Only when this trope applies to the title of a derivative work.

While explanations for misnomers are welcome and encouraged, please resist the urge to make a Justifying Edit.

Looking to have fun with misleading names? See I Thought It Meant, for misleading trope names and I Thought That Was for misleading work names.


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    Asian Animation 
  • In the original Chinese version of Happy Heroes, the green hero is named 花心超人 ("Huāxīn chāorén", English translation "Flowering Heart Superman") to reflect his narcissistic personality. In the English translations, the name "Smart S." is used quite a bit, which doesn't fit this personality. The English dub from Miao Mi rectifies this by naming him "Flowering Heart Superman" as well as "Romeo" (the message being conveyed with that second one is that he's hopelessly in love... with himself).
  • Motu Patlu features a character named Chaiwala. The Hindi term "chaiwala" is typically used to refer to someone who sells tea, but this Chaiwala serves samosas instead.
  • Our Friend Xiong Xiao Mi got a sequel series titled A Little Artist Xiong Xiao Mi, where Xiao Mi gets help from the Magic Brush to draw stuff like animals to help him resolve a given episode's conflict. The Magic Brush is actually a pencil.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: "Aphrodite" isn't a name that fits a mule that "had three legs, a glass eye, and one tooth".
  • Sherman's Lagoon: One strip has Hawthorne pointing out that calling Sherman a "great white shark" isn't accurate - he's not white, he's gray, and according to Hawthorne he's not so great either, so in his opinion a more appropriate name for Sherman would be the "so-so gray shark". He then goes on to mock Fillmore's species being called a "green sea turtle" and says that he should be called an "ugly brown sea turtle"note . Then he points out that calling him a "hermit crab" isn't very indicative either - he doesn't act like a hermit.
  • The Phantom has an In-Universe example: The Skull Cave has The Small Treasure Room, an enourmous cavern filled with gold and jewels amassed by 21 generations of Phantoms that are freely given away to people in need and The Big Treasure Room, a relatively snug room filled with bookcases and display cases filled with yes, priceless artifacts, but also relatively useless trivia (say a 16th century Swedish snuff box) from generations of adventures.

  • Joe Dever was obviously far more concerned about creating an elaborate world and riveting adventures when writing the Lone Wolf series than accurate titles. As a result, quite a few of them are at best very loose fits:
    • Fire on the Water — This refers to the big naval battle where you wield the legendary Sommerswerd, which occurs at the very end of the adventure and is easily the least dangerous part of it. The great majority of the adventure is your quest to obtain the weapon.
    • The Caverns of Kalte — Your mission begins in open wilderness and ends in a fortress; unless you take one very specific detour (with a 30% chance that you'll miss it entirely), you're going to see little, if any, of the eponymous caverns.
    • The Kingdoms of Terror — The wars between the Stornland kingdoms play next to no real part in your quest, and in any case there's nothing particularly terrifying about any of them.
    • The Cauldron of Fear — Not only is the Cauldron is a completely nondescript landmark which serves solely to get you to Zaaryx, there's a 50% chance you won't even use that route.
    • The Dungeons of Torgar — As with FotW, the point of nearly the entire adventure is getting to Torgar's dungeons, and you hardly do anything in them.
    • The Prisoners of Time — You don't see the prisoners in question until the very end of the adventure, they don't have anything to do with your quest, and until you meet them you don't even know who they are.
    • The Captives of Kaag — Just the one captive! (There are other unfortunates in Kaag, but they're well beyond saving.)
    • Dawn of the Dragons — An epic, sprawling journey where you face a grand total of ONE dragon, near (yep) the very end. And of course, if you're successful, there is no "dawn of the dragons"; they're toast.
    • The Curse of Naar — Despite the fact that you're in Naar's domain, not only doesn't he speak to you or attempt to hinder your quest (especially curious since he does both several times over the course of Grand Master), he doesn't even appear at all!
    • The Buccaneers of Shadaki — You face them once in a very brief encounter near the start of the adventure, after which they have no relevance to anything whatsoever.
    • The Fall of Blood Mountain — The mountain kingdom is still standing at the start of the adventure; its fall is what you're fighting to prevent.

    Print Media 
  • Heavy Metal magazine has nothing to do with the music genre of Heavy Metal music. It's an anthology of adult themed comics, many of them fantasy and science fiction. It's original French name is Metal Hurlant and was co-founded by the artist Moebius. The movie adaptation attempted to incorporate some examples of the music genre into the background music but the film score was still clearly dominated by Elmer Bernstein. And even when rock was incorporated, the majority chosen for whatever reason, definitely non-metal acts like Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Stevie Nicks, Cheap Trick, and Devo. (Grand Funk was considered metal in The '70s, however.)
  • You would think that a magazine named Garden & Gun would be perfect for that firearms enthusiasts with a nurturing side, but it's really about Southern fine dining and high culture.

  • The very word "pinball" is one caused by it being an Artifact Title: There hasn't been any actual pins in a pinball machine since the 1950s, and it's particularly non-indicative as fans call pinball machines as simply "pins". That being said, the "ball" part still holds true, and will almost certainly hold true as long as pinball exists in some shape or form.
  • An example for pinball in general: Did you score exceptionally well that you have Score #1? Congratulations, you have the second-best score on the machine! The top score is actually the Grand Champion, and scores after that are numbered starting with 1. The reason for this oddity is that they are actually two leaderboards: The Grand Champion is a single-score leaderboard by itself, and the numbered scores are a different, separate one. Typically, the numbered scores are temporary and replaced with the default scores on a regular basis, whereas the Grand Champion score remains until the save data is destroyed, either deliberately by the operator or by accident. This is why so many machines have a Grand Champion score that's miles above all of the other scores: It may have been set months or even years ago, whereas the other scores are relatively new.
  • Nearly all machines can offer a "Special" as an award. What the Special is depends on the settings, and it falls into this trope if it's set to award absolutely nothing or something that the machine already gives out in droves (such as small amounts of points).
  • The "Vid-Grid Pac-Maze" in Bally/Midway's Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball does not feature and video and is not a maze. It is, instead, a five-by-five matrix of lights.
  • In Data East's The Who's Tommy, the "One Way Combo" isn't a Combo at all — the player simply shoots the ball into the Tommy saucer.
  • Super Pinball: Behind The Mask has nothing to do with masks.
  • Psycho Pinball sounds like a perfect title for a pinball game either based on gothic horror or heavy metal music, instead of a collection featuring cartoonish clowns, pink whales, and a Mascot with Attitude.

  • The second anniversary episode of Cool Kids Table is only called "Homeward Bound 4", and the description is intentionally left innocuous, so it's a bit of a loop when the episode begins with the Jurassic Park theme and Alan announces that everyone is playing a dinosaur.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, the Weather is always a song. Other news segments such as traffic or financial news may also be a bleak poem or unpleasant story, sometimes with some conceivable relation to traffic or finance, sometimes not, but sometimes they're actual news segments about the topic if something related to them is happening. While even if something unusual is happening with the weather, the Weather segment will still be a song.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The second oldest title the National Wrestling Alliance ever gained ownership of, the British Empire/Commonwealth Championship belt, was defended from 1922 to 1929 in Canada and then exclusively defended in New Zealand until it was retired in 1990. Even if the NWA had wanted to use the belt in Britain they couldn't come to an understanding with Europe's promoters until the UK based Hammerlock entered the very year the Empire/Commonwealth belt was deactivated.
  • The female half of the family most commonly associated with the name Moreno in Mexican promotions such as CMLL, LLI and AAA are largely made up of blondes. The best case one can make is Rossy being slightly dark skinned if you want to stretch the word to is primordial origins.(Alfonso did have dark hair as do his sons, who are also all semi dark skinned too). Similarly, Carib wrestler La Morena usually has blonde highlights at the very least(though she can also pass under the semi dark skinned clause).
  • From 1979-1999, the World Wrestling Federation was operated by a company named Titan Sports. During this period, the promotion publicly stated on several occasions that Professional Wrestling was pre-determined, thus stating they were not technically operating a sports company. (Being owned by Titan Sports, the WWF did not have any sort of federated structure.) The name was changed in 1999 to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment (now World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE Inc.) as the beginning of the company's attempts to be treated as an entertainment company. (Ironically, WWFE then would attempt to run a legitimate sports league, the XFL, two years later.) The Titan name remains as part of one aspect of the WWE experience; as the name of the TitanTron screen where wrestlers come out from backstage.
  • Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling was founded by Atsushi Onita to showcase pro wrestlers fighting martial artists of other styles, mainly as a Take That! to Universal Wrestling Federation after they rejected him. This very quickly became an artifact title though, martial arts quickly giving way to brass knuckles, folding chairs, collapsible tables, scaffolds and the like.
  • For that matter, does "Advisory and Management Assistance" sound like a lucha libre company to you? (To be fair, it wasn't supposed to be, lucha libre is simply the only branch of the company that survived)
  • The American Wrestling Association Women's Title belt was almost exclusively defended away from America, though this concerned a replacement belt created by Super Stars Of Wrestling, a company ran by former AWA employees who wished to stay in the business after AWA closed down. After Superstars Of Wrestling was sued by WWE and went under itself, the belt was finally renamed as the American Wrestling Association Japan Women's Title, which implies there was an AWA Japan, which there was not. Pro Wrestling ZERO1 eventually sent it back to the States, only to retire it after Sherri Martel's passing.
  • On March 8, 1999, World Championship Wrestling did not have a single wrestling match for its entire first hour. So fans tuned into the World Wrestling Federation instead, causing Nitro's ratings to plummet.
  • WCW and later WSU valet Gorgeous George is anything but a Gorgeous George.
  • To be recognized as a woman of honor, one needed not prove their worthiness through respectable deeds or even adhere to the code. Simply working for Ring of Honor, in any capacity, was enough, even if it was in a barely visible role such as the ring crew. After the partnership with SHIMMER simmered down the designation was restricted to members of its budding women's division by 2015, but that some of them are less than honorable still stands.
  • AAA's Degeneration Mex only had one Mexican in it. The name actually came because of X Pac's membership.
  • Terriblemente Guapo el Rey, sounds like a self given narcissistic title or something swooning fan girls would call a man. TGR is actually three wrestlers (El Terrible, Shocker and Rey Bucanero) operating in CMLL.
  • Actress Girl'Z is a joshi pureso fed, and thus the girls are only actresses in a loose sense. Furthermore, it is questionable how accurate it is to call them "girls", which crosses into Lampshade Hanging with Kagawa Teruko, who is billed as "Middle Aged Star".

  • The opera Four Saints in Three Acts is in four acts and about as many as seven saints. (It's difficult to give an exact number of protagonists due to the show's incomprehensible style.)
  • The dance number "Bolero d'Amour" from Follies is a tango.
  • Shakespeare's Twelfth Night does not take place on Twelfth Night, nor is it even mentioned in the play. (It was written for Twelfth Night). The play's full title is "Twelfth Night or What You Will", which amounts to a Shrug of God on Shakespeare's part: if you've got a better title, by all means use it.
  • The main character from Miss Saigon, Kim, doesn't actually win the Miss Saigon title at the beauty pageant that opens the musical.
  • The finale song "Letting Go" from some productions of The Musical of Jack Heifner's Vanities is not necessarily a farewell song, but about not letting go of one's best friends.
  • Trekkie Monster from Avenue Q is a monster, but not a fan of Star Trek. He was originally supposed to be, but copyright issues led to a change in the script.
  • Lowe, Hite, and Stanley, a post-Vaudeville act, consisting of a giant, an averaged-sized guy, and a midget. Henry Hite (real name Henry Mullens) was indeed the giant, but Tommy Lowe (real name Roland Picaro) was not the midget—he was the averaged-sized man. The midget was Stanley Ross.
  • The solo instrument in "Cornet Man" from Funny Girl is a trumpet, not a cornet.

    Web Animation 
  • The Cyanide & Happiness Show has this with its episode titles, as a Running Gag: each episode's title has absolutely nothing to do with the content of that episode.
    • A good example would be "The Christmas Episode", which contains nothing Christmassy at all and in fact came out a month after Christmas.
    • Averted with "The Depressing Episode", and with the Season 2 opener, "Too Many Trains"< which does in fact have sketches about trains.
  • DSBT InsaniT:
    • Fire Guy is not a man with fire powers, he is a living fireball.
    • Killer may be a cold and distant Blood Knight, but he is not a murderer.
    • Evil Balloon isn't even a jerk, let alone outright malevolent. He just does what Dave tells him to.
    • Psycho Man is psycho, but he's not a man, he's a demon.
    • Soda Register is not a vending machine and he doesn't accept money, he's a jukebox.
    • Beeps is not a car, he's a plane.
    Seth: Okay you're a talking plane, nothing strange there, but why the hell is your name BEEPS?
    Beeps: Yeah, whats the problem?
    Seth: Uhh, maybe that planes don't BEEP!
  • French Erotic Film has absolutely nothing to do with pornography from France. It is called that because it's a mondegreen of the Dutch phrase "Weet je wat ik wil"English .
  • Happy Tree Friends:
    • They don't live in trees, for starters, and by the end of each episode, at least one of them is anything but happy.
    • Handy, the beaver with no hands.
  • Homestar Runner
    • The "Cheat Commandos O's" cereal pieces are actually not "O"-shaped, but rather nugget-shaped. This was even lampshaded on the box art where Fightgar was actually saying "These aren't 'O''s!"
    • In the Strong Bad Email "crazy cartoon," Strong Bad creates a crazy cartoon entitled Sweet Cuppin' Cakes because, according to him, "crazy cartoons usually have titles that have nothing to do with the cartoon itself."
    • In Teen Girl Squad, during a football game, Sci-Fi Greg questions why Cheerleader is in the stands instead of, you know, leading cheers. She explains that she's more a cheerleader in how she dresses and treats other girls.
    • The Ugly One has about the same level of attractiveness as the other three girls.
    • Strong Bad himself isn't particularly strong. Neither is Strong Sad. Strong Mad is, though. The second parts of their names are all accurate, at least.
    • The main character of Show Within a Show anime 20X6 is named Stinkoman. He's never shown or mentioned to have an odor problem. Being that he's basically one of many Alternate Universe versions of Strong Bad, his name comes from something Homestar randomly called Strong Bad at one point.
  • Pimp Lando from, well, Pimp Lando, isn't actually a pimp. Also The Evil Guitarist, who isn't all that evil and isn't a guitarist.
  • RWBY:
    • Weiss Schnee (that's Snow White in English) is a hot-tempered Black Mage.
    • The various kingdoms are not run by kings, but by councils. In fact, all monarchies were dissolved at the end of the great war 80 years prior to the start of the series.
  • The Super Pony Power Hour is 22 minutes.
  • Unbiased History actually skews heavily towards factions for comedic purposes.
  • Wacky Game Jokez, 4 Kidz! has virtually no video game jokes in it (let alone wacky video game jokes), and it is most certainly not for kids.
  • With the exception of Mellotaku, none of the members of Ze Pyromancers actually has the ability to use pyromancy or even fire in any way, instead using other elements, two of which (ironically) are Ice and Water.

    Web Videos 
  • Becoming YouTube is a "weekly" "documentary" series that's neither weekly nor a documentary.
  • Bishop Barron's video "on The Doritos Commercial" is only about doritos at the beginning. The rest of the video is spent discussing the philosophy behind abortion advocacy, the separation of truth and will in the thought of William of Occam to Renee Descartes, and The Pope Benedict XVI's theology.
  • GradeAUnderA discussed this in Why Animal Names Are Stupid, which had several animals whose names didn't fit them.
  • LoadingReadyRun Streams had "Rhythm Tuesdays" which happen on various days of the week. It started when both Heather and Ian (who both stream on Tuesday) needed a break from their respective games for a week, so they decided to get Alex (the other Tuesday streamer) in on it and make it an entire day of streaming rhythm games as a one-off thing, which they called "Rhythm Tuesday." Then, several weeks later, Kathleen was a bit tired of her JRPG, so she decided to do on her stream "Rhythm Tuesday: Now on Wednesday!" Then, with Desert Bus for Hope coming up, the streamers decided to do a final day of streaming to make up for the week of preparation they were off. So, one of the streams is "Rhythm Tuesday: Now on Friday!" Going into the future, the crew expects to find Rhythm Tuesday occurring on various days of the week, making it an Artifact Title. (The name has since been changed to Rhythm Café, thus avoiding the issue completely.)
  • Marble Hornets is certainly not about hornets made of marble. In-universe, "Marble Hornets" is the name of the student film project that Alex Kralie came up with that got interrupted after Alex's run-in with you-know-what. As with many pretentious student film projects, he came up with the name when he was a stone lawn ornament and a wasp.
  • The Mario Party TV group don't just play Mario Party; they have a few other Let's Plays like New Super Mario Bros. U and Mario Kart.
  • "And remember, Nintendo Minute is never a minute!"
  • No Right Answer uses this for some episodes ("Best Anime Ever" should really be called "Pokémon vs Digimon"). Used deliberately for publicity.
  • Obscurus Lupa is not a wolf and is also not obscured in any way (unlike someone).
  • Let's Player Playing With Mah Wii has done WAY more non-Nintendo Wii games than Wii games. his first videos were of Wii games, sure, but still, he's done over 40 playthroughs, and only 4 of those are Wii games, and once of those games was played on an emulator!
  • The Sharkasm Crew is not known to feature any shark motif. They are a crew, though, and very sarcastic.
  • The Let's Player Stampy Long Head does not stamp, and has a normal sized head. However, he is more commonly known as StampyLongNose or Stampy Cat, since he does have a long nose in real life and his Minecraft skin is of a cat.
  • Similarly, his friend iBallisticSquid is rarely angry and doesn't have much to do with projectiles, and his Quest series stopped involving any quests a long time ago.
  • Little One, one of the four heroes of Tales from My D&D Campaign, is about six and a half feet tall and built to match. Justified by the fact that he was named by his mother, who's a dragon.
  • Campaign 2 of Critical Role has the Mighty Nein, an adventuring party made of seven members. Subverted slightly in that the name comes from the unusually large number of nines rolled by the players early in the campaign combined with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the setting, and has nothing to do with the number of people in the party. Not that that stops NPCs from reacting with confusion whenever they introduce themselves.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Non Indicative Title


Scorching Sandpaper Desert

Thanks to the removal of the sun, the Scorching Sandpaper Desert isnt so scorching after all.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / NonIndicativeName

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Main / NonIndicativeName