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Names To Run Away From / Ancient Dead Languages

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"Smilodon fatalis narrowly edged out Tyrannosaurus rex to win this year's Most Badass Latin Names competition, after edging out Dracorex hogwartsia and Stygimoloch spinifer (meaning 'horned dragon from the river of death') in the semifinals."

A form of Names to Run Away from Really Fast.

If someone has a name that's Latin, or Sumerian, or Babylonian, this probably means they were around back then. A rule of thumb is usually the older something magical is, the more powerful. Expect Ominous Latin Chanting.


See also Names To Run Away From: Foreign Language Names, Names To Run Away From: Religious Names, and Names To Run Away From: Conquerors.


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  • Anyone/thing with "Bal-" (Baal, "Lord") in their name. "El" (Hebrew for "god") is the non-threatening version (Jor-El, Kal-El etc.) Except when they're not (Azrael and any angel from Shin Megami Tensei for example)
  • Variants on "Cain" are a twofer, being both a really old name, and a notorious murderer; in fact, the person who invented murder.
  • Any villain/weapon/organisation etc. called Cerberus; that has the added kick of an animal name (the three-headed dog which is said to guard the gateway to Hell to prevent anyone escaping). Strangely enough, nothing villainous ever seems to be named for the Greek original of this name, "Kerberos" note .

  • Apocalypse from the X-Men is also referred to as "En Sabah Nur". That's 30th century BC Egyptian for "Kick Your Ass." Or "Good morning" or "The First One", depending on who is translating. Or "Uncle Nur from Sabah", in 21st century CE Malaysian.


  • Carcer is Latin for prison (the root of our incarcerate) and is also the name of the villainous murderer-cum-policeman in Terry Pratchett's Night Watch Discworld.
  • The Big Bad of Kitty Norville, being a vampire from the time of ancient Rome, has a Latin name by which he is known: Dux Bellorum, 'leader/general of wars'. 'Nuff said.
  • The name of Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter means something akin to "Female Warrior Outsider".
    • Dolores Umbridge. Dolores=sorrows; umbrage=offence or annoyance.
    • Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco Malfoy. 'Lucius' is from the same root as 'Lucifer'; 'Narcissa' is the feminine of 'Narcissus', a beautiful, but poisonous flower, itself named for a vain mythological character, the root of 'narcissism'; 'Draco' means 'Dragon'; 'Malfoy' means 'Treachery', literally 'bad faith'. Considering that JK Rowling got her degree in Classical & Romance Languages, it is not surprising that many of her character's names follow this trope.
  • From The Dresden Files, we have Nicodemus Archleone. Two Biblical references with one name — and he's old enough to have met Jesus. He has the experience to show for it, too.
  • From the same author, there's the Codex Alera series, which has every name derived from Latin. The absolute crowner, however, has to be Gaius Tavarus Magnus, which translates into Lord Wolverine The Great. He's not a bad guy, but he certainly earns it.
    • Also Invidia (Envy) Aquitane.
  • Janos is an alternate spelling of Janus, the Roman god best known for being two-faced. It is also the name of the commander of the King's Landing city watch who betrays Ned Stark in Game of Thrones.
  • Borborygmus Gog in Galaxy of Fear. Borbogrygmus is the official term for stomach sounds; it comes from an ancient Greek word.
  • In Dragon Bones Stygian, after the river Styx in in the underworld of Classical Mythology. The horse of that name killed its first owner. The second owner renamed it "Pansy", and treated it much better, thus acquiring a Cool Horse.
  • Neferet in House Of Night. Averted with Zenobia, who is a genuinely good person. Since vampires get to chose their own names, this trope is invoked by a trio who name themselves for the Graeae of Greek Myth: Deino, Enyo and Porphredo.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Any vampire series; it's the ones with these names you really better watch out for. "Angelus" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example.
  • Shows up in Stargate SG-1 a whole lot. When your Big Bad Always Chaotic Evil race's shtick is stealing the names of the gods from primitive Earth religions what else would you expect? e.g. Ba'al, Chronus, Sokar, Anubis, ect.
  • In one episode of Doctor Who, The Master uses the alias Magister (Latin for "Master"). In another, Thascalos. (Greek for "Master").

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Semi-exception: Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are ancient by human standards, but a few million years is pretty standard for a giant alien robot, and they're nice folks. But extremely badass nonetheless.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep" features the Tantabus, named after the Latin word for "nightmare", an amorphous Eldritch Abomination created by Princess Luna to punish herself for her deeds as Nightmare Moon, which increases in size and strength as it feeds on her guilt and spreads to other ponies' dreams, turning them into nightmares in the process.

    Real Life 
  • Phytophthora, the genus of the pathogen responsible for the Irish Potato Famine, is Greek for "plant destroyer", which is pretty much what the organism does.
  • The genus name for belladonna AKA deadly nightshade, Atropa, means "inevitable", which is also the basis for Atropos, the last of The Fates.
  • "Cancer" and "carcinoma" are derived from the Latin and Greek words for crab, respectively, due to tumors sometimes resembling crabs under the skin.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex literally means "Tyrant Lizard King", which is a pretty apt description of a 9 ton, 40 foot long reptilian super predator with jaws that could warp steel.
    • It seems that palaeontologists have an unspoken rule that all dinosaurs in the Tyrannosauroid family need to have intimidating and badass Greco-Latin names. Honourable mentions include Moros ("Impending Doom"), Dynamoterror ("Powerful Terror"), Daspletosaurus ("Frightful Lizard"), Lythronax ("Gore King"), Nanotyrannus ("Small Tyrant"), Bistahieversor ("Bistahi Destroyer") and Teratophoneus ("Monster Murderer"). However, a recently discovered Tyrannosauroid from Canada might have the most intimidating name of them all: Thanatotheristes ("Death Reaper").


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