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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 
  • Chicchi the flower spirit in Berserk 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.
  • Chi from Chobits. 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!"
  • It's suggested from the director's notes that Culumon (Calumon in the dub) from Digimon Tamers, not being a real Digimon at first, gave himself his name and adopted a Verbal Tic from it.
  • Giru in Dragon Ball GT, as DB4649T2006RS was just too long for the main cast and the audience (the Machine Mutants still refer to him as DB4649T2006RS).
  • Nyu from Elfen Lied. 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.
  • The main characters of Heavy Object 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.
  • Nyorori from Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger ends every sentence with his name, Nyorori.
  • In the Pretty Cure series, we have Ai-chan, Haa-chan, Hugtan, and Fuwa, who are all named after the only words they can say when first introduced.
  • Babu, Chihiro's cat whose death and subsequent zombification triggered the plot of Sankarea, was named after the sound he makes, due to malformed vocal cords.
  • Yun in Toriko. 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."
  • Todd Casil from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and the Spin-Off Squee! 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 Howlibird from The Smurfs, due to its screeching noise of "howli howli howli".

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

     Film - Live Action 
  • The titular character from The Babadook is described in a book as announcing its arrival with a rumble and three knocks that sound "Ba BA-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!"
  • Goodfellas:
    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.
  • In Topsy-Turvy, Gilbert dubs a young Japanese woman "Miss Sixpence Please" after the only two words of English she seems to know.

  • Errand from The Belgariad. His real name, given in the Mallorean, is Eriond.
  • Oy from The Dark Tower series. He's 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.
  • As a half-example, in the Legends of Ulm series, the protagonist, Gom, was named for the sound he made as a baby.
  • In 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."
  • In 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.
  • The main character from the Jacob Two-Two books got his nickname because, being the youngest of five siblings, he's used to say things twice since he's not noticed the first time.
  • Freak the griffin from The Kane Chronicles is partly named because of his freakish behavior, and partly because of the screeching noise that he makes.
  • In the Layer Cake novel, 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).
  • Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, because of the noise he made in his throat, and Níniel (meaning "tear-maiden") in The Silmarillion, after losing her memory.
  • In one of the funnier parts of 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 couldn't understand much of the other stuff he was saying—partly because he was rendered rather incoherent by the previous events of the novel, and partly because he shut off his mind from communication.
  • Gleep the baby dragon in the Myth Adventures book series. 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.

     Live Action TV 
  • Anyang! In 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
    • Chantho from the episode "Utopia" 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.
  • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: "ZUBAAN!"
  • Count Blah from Greg the Bunny 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.
  • On Stargate SG-1 there is 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".

  • Noodle of Gorillaz 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.
  • According to legend, Lemmy of Motörhead 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 RPG 
  • The famous Dungeons & Dragons 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.
  • A semi-related example; In Magic: The Gathering, it is 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).
  • The wyrm-corrupted Black Spiral Dancers from Werewolf: The Apocalypse were given a new name upon completion of their first dance around the black spiral, after the first sound they made. 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 was a kids' musical where the main character's only phrase was "No Fibbin'," so that's what the other characters called him. It was pretty odd.
  • Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Guys and Dolls, who always says "nicely, nicely, thank you" when someone asks how he's doing.

     Video Games 

  • Nina in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter is named after the only sound her damaged vocal cords are capable of producing.
  • Ruff from Dragon Quest VII is so named because after becoming human, he could only say "Ruff" (he later gains the ability to speak).
  • Mitsuru from Ensemble Stars! tends to end his sentences with daze, leading to Subaru nicknaming him "the daze-daze kid".
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Although Gau from Final Fantasy VI can say quite a few words, his favorite seems to be "gau", a Japanese onomatopoeia for roaring.
    • In 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: In the second trilogy, Nano-Nano Pudding ends her sentences wirh "nano da".

     Web Comics 

  • Tocsin in Dragon Tails, though he eventually learned how to speak properly.
  • 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.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Susan Strong on Adventure Time. Her first name came from her trying to say "sun", and her last name came from saying she was strong.
  • The Flintstones Comedy Show had Dino's nephew Pow Pow who would say his name at the end of his sentences.
  • Goo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends 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."
  • The Tooky Tooky bird from George of the Jungle.
  • 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.
  • One episode of Little Bear 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".
  • In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, 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.