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Verbal Tic Name

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"All she can say is 'Nyu', so let's call her that."
Kouta, Elfen Lied

In Pokémon Speak, the only thing a character says is their name. This is essentially the inverse: a character is named for the only thing they say. If it's the only thing they've ever said, it might be unclear (or forgotten) which came first, especially if the first question they were asked was "what's your name?"

The way it usually works is someone with a limited or one-word vocabulary is named after that one word. Often, this will occur because other characters don't know this character's real name (if there even is one), and are uncomfortable with not having something to call them beyond "Hey, You!." The simple solution: Take the only word(s) they ever utter and turn that into their name.

Note that, despite the title, the source of the name isn't necessarily a Verbal Tic. However, the spirit is there in that the character's limited vocabulary is their defining attribute.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Chicchi the flower spirit is an odd example in that she's not named for her own verbal tic, but because it's the sound that rats — her only companions until Guts shows up — make.
  • Chobits: Chi. After Hideki first activates her, she turns out to have no memories and the only thing she can say is "Chi", so Hideki decides to call her that. It's revealed later on that her original name was Elda.
  • Di Gi Charat's Pyokola Analogue III ends hers with "pyo!"
  • Digimon Tamers: It's suggested from the director's notes that Culumon (Calumon in the dub), not being a real Digimon at first, gave himself his name and adopted a Verbal Tic from it.
  • Dragon Ball GT: Giru, as DB4649T2006RS was just too long for the main cast and the audience (the Machine Mutants still refer to him as DB4649T2006RS).
  • Elfen Lied: Nyu. Her speech pathology makes sense, as she took a bullet to the head (see "Tan" in real life below for what brain damage can do) but her recovering then becomes an issue.
  • Heavy Object: The main characters meet but never learn the name of one of the Information Alliance's Elites. They nickname her "Oh Ho Ho" because every time she speaks she starts off with a Noblewoman's Laugh.
  • Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger: Nyorori ends every sentence with his name, Nyorori.
  • Pretty Cure: Ai-chan, Haa-chan, Hugtan, and Fuwa, who are all named after the only words they can say when first introduced.
    • Played With in Hirogaru Sky! Pretty Cure. Sora names Ellee after her Verbal Tic, only to later find out that she was right by sheer coincidence. It's eventually revealed that the King and Queen of Skyland named her that for the exact same reason.
  • Sankarea: Babu, Chihiro's cat whose death and subsequent zombification triggered the plot, was named after the sound he makes, due to malformed vocal cords.
  • Toriko: Yun. In the anime, Komatsu used the Wall Penguin chick's cry to call out for it when it got lost, and the name fell into place afterwards.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot's only line is "I am Groot."
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Todd Casil makes a squeaking noise when he's scared, which is quite often. When he meets the Ax-Crazy Johnny and is asked his name, naturally the only noise he could muster up was "Squee!", which later became Johnny's nickname for him.
  • Paulus de Boskabouter: Krakras the crow, whose name is based on the crow sound Kra, described as krassen in Dutch. Oehoeboeroe the owl's name is based on the sounds an owl makes.
  • The Smurfs: The Howlibird, due to its screeching noise of "howli howli howli".

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The story of Noh. A DM had a group of adventurers enter a room with a couple of treasures and a little girl. The girl wasn't a real person, but a magical construct who could only say two things: "No" and "Please don't take these items". The players, unsure of what to do, tried to elicit more responses from her, but failed. Finally the bard tried playing a beautiful song, and rolled so high on his skill check that the DM had a single tear roll down the girl's cheek. The players immediately decide she's too adorable to leave behind and adopt her, naming her "Noh". The DM eventually allowed her to be granted a soul and a personality (and the ability to truly speak), but the name stuck.

     Film — Animated 
  • Finding Nemo: Bubbles the yellow tang gets his name from the treasure chest-shaped aquarium decoration that periodically spouts bubbles, and his obsession with it.
  • Monsters, Inc.: Boo is a slight variant. Her real name is Mary, but she's just a baby and doesn't know how to introduce herself. "Boo" isn't the first word she says to Sully, but she screams it later.

     Film — Live Action 
  • The Babadook: The titular character is described in a book as announcing its arrival with a rumble and three knocks that sound "Ba BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!"
  • Goodfellas: A variant. Jimmy Two-Times is so named because of his habit of relating himself.
    Henry Hill: [narrating] ...And Jimmy Two-Times, who got that nickname because he said everything twice, like:
    Jimmy Two-Times: I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.
  • Topsy-Turvy: Gilbert dubs a young Japanese woman "Miss Sixpence Please" after the only two words of English she seems to know.

  • Brotherband: Hal names the dog he finds in the mountains after her distinctive bark, rendered as "KLOOF".
  • The Dark Tower: Oy is a billy-bumbler, which is a talking raccoon-like creature native to Mid-World. The name comes from his attempts to say "boy".
  • Discworld:
    • Hodgesaargh the falconer from the kingdom of Lancre. He speaks normally, but that's what he says whenever asked for his name (thanks to one of his overzealous falcons trying to attack him): "I'm Hodges... aargh!".
    • The Wee Free Men: Sneebs, so called because that's all he says, though whenever he says "Sneebs" you hear words in your head.
  • Legends Of Ulm: As a half-example, the protagonist, Gom, was named for the sound he made as a baby.
  • The Edge Chronicles: Twig is named his own name by a trog insistent on keeping him as a pet. Her mother insists that she won't have a pet that talks, and when Twig unthinkingly answers her question "What's your name?", he tries to make it sound like a verbal tic: "Twigtwigtwigtwig. Twigtwigtwig". The trog delightedly responds "I think I'll call him Twig."
  • Gone with the Wind: Honey Wilkes gets her nickname from the fact that she calls everyone "from her father to the fieldhands" by that endearment.
  • Jacob Two-Two: The main character got his nickname because, being the youngest of five siblings, he's used to saying things twice since he's not noticed the first time.
  • The Kane Chronicles: Freak the griffin is partly named because of his freakish behavior, and partly because of the screeching noise that he makes.
  • Layer Cake: The Diabolical Mastermind's bodyguard gained a habit from his SAS experience of calling everyone "Troop". Thus, he's identified as Mr. Troop (in the film, he doesn't have the habit, but is still given that name).
  • The Magician's Nephew: When the Talking Beasts adopt Uncle Andrew as a pet they name him Brandy because he makes that noise so often. Unusual in that Uncle Andrew was perfectly capable of speech. The animals named him this because they can't understand much of the other stuff he was saying — partly because he's rendered rather incoherent by the previous events of the novel, and partly because he shut off his mind from communication.
  • Myth Adventures: Gleep the baby dragon. In a story written from Gleep's POV it's shown that he's quite intelligent and erudite — the problem isn't his linguistic ability, it's that his vocal cords aren't yet capable of human speech. He does learn to talk more understandably in later books, however.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Book of Lost Tales: Most of the elven words for cats are onomatopoeias of meowing, such as miog, miaug and miaulin ("cat", "tom" and "she-cat" in Gnomish), and meoi and later miue in Qenya.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is named because of the swallowing noise he makes in his throat. His true name is Sméagol, but nobody remembers that anymore.
    • The Silmarillion: After losing her memory, Nienor is found weeping, lost and terrified by a group of Haladin warriors, who named her Níniel (meaning "tear-maiden") for lack of knowledge of her real identity.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Hodor, a simple-minded stable hand, doesn't have any words besides "Hodor". Later on, his great-grandmother Old Nan explains that his real name is Walder, which she thinks is what he's trying to say, but few people even remember him having another name.
  • The World According to Garp, inverted. Technical Sergeant Garp's name is the only thing he can say.

     Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: Lucille Bluth adopts a Korean boy that doesn't speak English. He pretty much only says the word "Anyang," which means "hello" or "how do you do" in Korean, and the Bluths decide that it is actually his name. Whenever he's present and one of them mentions Anyang, he usually says his name back (because that is the polite response if they were speaking Korean). It turns out his real name is "Hel-loh."
  • De Fabeltjeskrant: In this Dutch children's show many characters had names that were based on the sounds they made, such as Zoef the hare, who always said Zoef Zoef.
  • Doctor Who
    • "Utopia": Chantho precedes everything she says with "chan" and follows it with "tho." Apparently, leaving them out is rude where she comes from.
    • Possibly Dorothy "Ace" Mc Shane, who tends to shout "Ace!" when she's enthusiastic about something.
  • Game of Thrones has Hodor, the lovable simpleton who keeps repeating this word, and people consider it to be his name. His birth name is Wylis. It's revealed that the reason he can only say "Hodor" is that he had a magically caused seizure when he was a teenager, during which he foresaw his own death. "Hold the door", deformed into "Hodor", turns out to be the last words he ever hears.
  • Greg the Bunny: Count Blah has an extensive vocabulary, but he's named after his Verbal Tic of saying "Blah" at the end of sentences. Which did not go well when in-universe Executive Meddling made him change his name to Count A'ight, which he couldn't pronounce.
  • Stargate SG-1: There's an Unas named Chaka. Or rather, that's what Daniel calls him, 'cause that's what he says most often. There's a language barrier, you see. Later it seems that "chaka" is the Unas equivalent to "hello".

  • Gorillaz: Noodle learned to speak English later on, but at the time she was mailed to the other band members, the only word of it she knew was "Noodle". So they decided to call her that.
  • Motörhead: According to legend, Lemmy earned his nickname as a schoolboy by constantly mooching from friends, such as with the phrase, "Lemmy a quid!"
  • Louie Cuneo, nicknamed The Turkey, was a friend of Frank Zappa who had a very peculiar laugh, much like a turkey. He can be heard on the album Lumpy Gravy (1968).

     Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: t's an obscure fact about goblins that they are named after the noise their mother made when giving birth to them. Though there wouldn't be a whole lot of creativity going into their names anyway, considering that goblins are born in litters (giving them their iconic numbers) and are none too bright to begin with (giving them there iconic tactics).
  • Warhammer 40,000: Killfrenzy, a Chaos-possessed starship, is so named because the only message it ever transmits is a constant repetition of "KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY" on all channels.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: The Wyrm-corrupted Black Spiral Dancers are given a new name upon completion of their first dance around the Black Spiral, chosen after the first sound they make when they emerge. Mostly these new names are incoherent noises of rage or distress, but one notably unfortunate individual was named Parrupt, as the first sound she made did not come from her mouth...

  • There's a kids' musical where the main character's only phrase is "No Fibbin'," so that's what the other characters call him. It was pretty odd.
  • Guys and Dolls: Nicely-Nicely Johnson, who always says "nicely, nicely, thank you" when someone asks how he's doing.

     Video Games 
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter: Nina is named after the only sound her damaged vocal cords are capable of producing.
  • Dragon Quest VII: Ruff is so named because after becoming human, he could only say "Ruff" (he later gains the ability to speak).
  • Ensemble Stars!: Mitsuru tends to end his sentences with daze, leading to Subaru nicknaming him "the daze-daze kid".
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: Although Gau can say quite a few words, his favorite seems to be "gau", a Japanese onomatopoeia for roaring.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: The player encounters an amnesiac Mammet when looking for Gentleman Inspector Hildebrand Manderville. Hildebrand opts to name the Mammet Gigi since that was the word it repeated when it woke up. As a bystander tries to point out that "gigigigi" is a general verbal tic for every Mammet, he gets ignored when Gigi admits he kinda likes the name.
  • Galaxy Angel II: While she's fully capable of proper speech, Nano-Nano Pudding always ends her sentences with "nano da".

  • Girl Genius has the Nyar Spider, such named by fans after what it says when doing anything. The novels give it a more scientific name, though.
  • Goblins: Klik is a living metal sphere that doesn't speak, but just makes clicking noises. As such, the goblins take to calling him Klik for lack of any more obvious choices.

     Web Original 
  • Critical Role: When the circus first found Molly, he was near-catatonic and would only mumble the word "empty" over and over. Gustav, thinking he was trying to tell them his name, started calling him "M.T.", which he expanded into Mollymauk Tealeaf when it came time to forge Molly's identification papers.
  • Game Grumps: In their playthrough of Out of This World, the Grumps call Buddy the Alien "Mike Aruba" because the main thing the character says in-game is "Mycaruba."

     Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Susan Strong. Her first name came from her trying to say "sun", and her last name came from saying she was strong.
  • The Flintstones has Dino's nephew Pow Pow, who says his name at the end of his sentences.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Goo got her name because her parents let her choose her name when she was born and the only thing she could say was "goo goo gaa gaa."
  • Gravity Falls: One gnome is named "Schmebulock", which is all he ever says. Given the context (e.g., he'll say so after being asked his name or casually called by a nickname), it's intentionally ambiguous as to whether he says it to tell people his name, or if he's called that because it's all he says. There's actual canon supporting both hypotheses. At one point, another gnome (who, presumably, should know better) asks "Is that all you can say?" To which he replies with an embarrassed "Schmebulock." But a flashback in another episode shows the Author interviewing a gnome and being told his name is "Schmebulock... Senior." So it's probably both.
  • Little Bear: One episode features a baby raccoon, named "Ik" by Little Bear due to only saying that sound.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Tweety Bird in spirit — he doesn't actually tweet much, but, well, he's a canary.
    • In the French translation of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Road Runner is named "Bip Bip", the French equivalent of his "Beep Beep" Verbal Tic.
    • Benny and Hugo calls anyone "George".
  • Phineas and Ferb: In one episode, the characters call an alien Meap because that's the only word he says (so that's how he replies when they ask his name). He gets hold of a translator mustache at the end of the episode, though. Considering he never corrects the kids when he does speak English, and his enemy Mitch also calls him Meap, it might actually be his name.

     Real Life  
  • King Erik VI Menved (1274-1319) of Denmark. The byname "Menved" is derived from his habit of saying "ved alle hellige maend" (by all holy men).
  • Heinrich II Jasomirgott (1107-1177), Duke of Austria. His byname "Jasomirgott" is explained as a slightly garbled form of "yes so help me God", which he apparently used a lot.
  • Charles Ludwich Dodgeson, otherwise known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was nicknamed by his friends as 'DoDo Dodgeson' due to his stammer which made him call himself 'Do-Do-Dodgeson'.
  • Ernesto "Che" Guevara, nicknamed after the Argentine slang interjection "che", which he used a lot.
  • A famous patient in the field of expressive aphasia known as Tan could only produce the sound "tan" (his real name was Louis Victor Leborgne). Paul Broca's research on Tan's brain after he died revealed extensive damage caused by a lesion in a particular area of his brain, an area which would later be known as Broca's area. It is one of the parts of the brain responsible for the formation of words and coherent speech.
  • In many languages, dogs and other animals do go around saying what they are called in that language, such as "gau" for "dog" and "maau" for "cat" in Cantonese.
    • You get a number of birds named after the sounds they produce, like the chickadee, the whippoorwill, the hoopoe, the bobwhite and the cuckoo.
      • And that isn't only the case in English: German: Kuckuck, French: Coucou (pronounced "coocoo"), Chinese: Xique (approximately: shee-chue-eh, a magpie).
      • In some Indian languages, chickens are called things like kookar.
    • The Japanese Cicada — TsukuTsuku Boshi.
    • Gecko lizards. Their name comes from the fact that their chirps sound like they're saying "gecko gecko" over and over again.
      • The Tokay Gecko in particular makes the distinct "gecko gecko" chirp as well as a chirp that sounds like "tokeh"... which is where it got its name.
    • The coquí, a family of small tree frogs native to Puerto Rico, named for its distinctive call, "co-KEE."
    • The Quagga (an extinct relative of the zebra) was said to be named after its call (or the Khoikhoi word for zebra). South Africa has plenty more where that came from: tok-tokies (beetles that make that 'tok-tok' sound by thumping the ground with their abdomens), the Hadeda (an ibis that makes that call - a lot), repeating words like "now-now" for emphasis in common speech...
    • The Aracuan (yes, they actually do exist), a South American bird named after its distinct call.
  • The Greeks thought that the languages of everyone beyond their borders sounded like "Bar bar bar bar bar" — hence, barbarians. (Barbaros if you're talking to an ancient Athenian.)
  • In Dave Barry Does Japan, Dave and his family stay in a Japanese inn and are served by a woman who tends to answer any questions with "Hai domo!", which he interpreted to mean "Yes, very!". As such, the family started referring to her as the Very Lady.



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