Let’s face it: Some names just get boring after you’ve heard them hundreds of
times. However, finding good names for your characters can be daunting sometimes.
So that’s where “Naming Names: Your All-Purpose Guide to Finding Satisfactory
and Fun Names for Your Characters” comes in!
Now, the name you give a character in a story can be either the most or least
important part of that character. We’re going to be working under the idea that
it is the most important, so that this column can actually have a practical
purpose. ;) Anyway, to make this article easy to navigate, I will split it up
into eight sections, or eight methods you can use to name your characters. Enjoy!
Section One: Spelling Mistakes Work
When you’re typing up a storm, trying frantically to get all your fantastic
ideas onto the screen, you’re bound to make a few spelling mistakes. (I know
I do; I just spelled “Mistakes” wrong twice. But that’s beside the point.) However,
these mistakes may not be such a bad thing. For example, in one piece I was
writing, I wrote both “are” and “is” and smooshed them together accidentally.
But when I went back to correct it, I saw how interesting of a name I had created
(“Areis”). Regular mistakes in spelling also work. How about “Kinh” or “Nsme”?
Spelling mistake names are a little hard to get, however. These generally just
happen when you’re typing, so be sure to keep a look out for them if they come
An alternative to misspelling a word is mispronouncing a word. Have you ever
been sitting, perhaps in class listening to the teacher, when the person who
is talking accidentally says a word wrong? Well, here’s your chance to pick
up a name. For instance, two years ago I had a teacher whose tongue did not
want to obey her, so she said things such as “Aushelly.” I took this opportunity
to get a few good names. Just remember to always carry a pen(cil) and paper
Of course, if neither of these opportunities come your way, you can always
purposely misspell a word. This is much easier. Try “Hapi,” “Taer,” or “Grahs.”
Names inspired by a real word, but with, say, a different vowel, or a few letters
dropped/added, also work. Did you ever think “Oricla,” “Claeda,” “Florici,”
or “Anara” could be names?
Section Two: The Dictionary is Your Friend
Let’s just clear this section up before anything gets messy. I am not ((not))
telling you to go pick up a dictionary and read it. I’m merely suggesting that
you open up a nice to a page at random...and there! POOF! You have “Malariae”
and “Pilule” right at your fingertips! Just don’t spend too much time looking
through words, or you really will start reading it! (And yes, those are real
words; I just have a very, very big dictionary.)
Here are some tips to using the dictionary: Firstly, try to pick uncommon words
that most people haven’t heard of. It makes your characters sound more mysterious,
and encourages your readers to look things up in a dictionary. :) Secondly,
while not necessary, it is recommended that you pick a word that at least slightly
resembles your character. For example, “Styx” would probably not be happy-go-lucky
and kind. Unless, of course, you’re working on irony. Then that’s a great name,
very clever. And lastly, you may have to mold words a little to fit your purposes:
“Verisimilitude” is a bit of a mouthful, and doesn’t sound like a name (most
likely because it isn’t). However, shorten this to “Veris” or “Risi” and you’ll
My favorite dictionaries to use are online ones, at least for this naming process.
I love the “Word of the Day” features that most dictionaries have, because they
list unique, interesting-sounding words that most people have never heard of.
They’re very useful; plus, you get to learn new words! :D
Section Three: Try Description
You can always use words that describe your character. As a general rule, simple
names work for simple characters (again, unless you’re working for irony). “Happy”
would work for a cheerful, positive Yellow Kacheek. For more complicated characters,
look more complicated words up in the dictionary and you will have a more descriptive
I don’t advocate this section as much as the others. While description names
can work and can be effective, they should really be used in moderation. Although
it may not be your intention, having all your characters named “Silly,” “Faerie,”
and “Petulant” doesn’t make you seem very original.
Section Four: Go International
Do you know another language? If yes, this section is very easy. If no, this
section is very easy with some way to accurately translate!
As I said in the previous section, description names aren’t the best. However,
description names (as well as noun/adjective/verb/preposition/etc. names) in
another language work quite well. Not only does it give you an original name,
but people reading your piece who know the second language will have a little
treat because they know what the word means. Just remember to keep the name
appropriate; just because it’s in another language doesn’t mean that people
don’t know what it means.
A few examples for other language names (all in Spanish because I hardly know
any others) are: “Noche,” “Lluvia,” “Espejo,” “Casi,” “Hikari” (alright, that’s
Japanese), or “Fleur” (and that’s French). The names you can make are endless!
Section Five: Just Make it Up
This is my favorite section, and the way I use to make most of my names. Just
squash some letters together and you’ve got a great name!
How about “Adanei,” “Firieq,” or “Questav”? If you’re having trouble thinking
up names, keep in mind that names just come and go, so just keep at it until
a really good one comes.
This section can be hard for some people, so if you’re having trouble, try
basing your names off real-world objects, like “Avrador” (it came from “door”
and sort of...evolved. Heh...).
When using this method, sometimes names can be too overcomplicated, or they
look good on paper, but are really a mouthful. Names should be fairly smooth,
so if your name looks like it would take an hour to say and say correctly, try
actually saying it out-loud. By doing this, you can hammer out some of the kinks
and you’ll have a better-sounding name out of it.
Overall, this should be fun, so don’t try to force it. There are other ways
to think up names if this doesn’t work.
Section Six: Look to Items for Inspiration
NeoPets is full of interesting items just waiting for you to come and immortalize
them in a name. I, myself, have taken advantage of item names a few times, such
as “Sponderola” (from the item Sponderolas).
However, there are thousands of items on NeoPets, so try to narrow your search
down before you dive in. Flowers are always a good place to start for girls
(flower names work for both girly girls and tomboys, so don’t rule them out
just because you have a warrior...they can make for some interesting twists
in the character’s personality). Food is also a personal favorite (what self-respecting
pet wouldn’t want to be named “Bagguss”?). Item names also help bring a more
Neopetsy feel to your pieces, so never overlook them.
Section Seven: Use an Existing Name
Now, many people never read the Neopedia (over 50,000 people last time I checked
the polls), and I really think that that’s a shame. There are hundreds of great
names waiting unread in the Neopedia, just begging to be used in your story.
And not only does the Neopedia supply names, but it can, if you want, supply
whole characters. And if you don’t want to take a character for exactly how
they are, you can always create the background of a flat character and make
them come alive. (Ah, but I digress. Back to names now.)
The Neopedia isn’t the only place with names. All over the site there are characters
with names that you can use if you can’t think up your own name. And, like in
the previous section, using names from the site also boosts the Neopetsy factor
of your piece, which is never a bad thing.
Many people also like to use their own pets in their pieces. This is also very
good (though, technically, a lot of people named their pets, so you did have
to think of a name in the first place...but now I’m just rambling). Other people
like to put someone else’s pets in a piece, too. Just make sure that you ask
the person before you use the pet’s name, just to keep everything peachy.
Section Eight: Try Real-Life Names
Baby books are there for a reason. Find a baby book or an online naming site
and you’ll find a whole store of names. If you want to, you can also use your
friend’s name, or even your own. Just keep in mind that using a lot of “Roberts”,
“Saras”, and “Zachs” does tend to take a little away from the magic of NeoPets,
so try to use these names in moderation. I like to use them for characters that
don’t really do much, but that still need a name.
A different option to common names is uncommon names, such as myth names. These
are often very interesting names; plus, you can be certain that they are, in
And what’s this? A Bonus Section?? That’s right!
You get nine sections for the price of eight! Aren’t you lucky!
Section Nine: Take My Examples
That’s right. Just go ahead and take ‘em. Personally, I don’t think that they’re
all that grand (well, maybe just a few of them. Hehehe...Grahs. Gets me every
time.), but, if you can’t think of anything else, then why not? I haven’t copyrighted
them; I’m even giving you permission to take them. I mean, it’s obviously much
more Satisfying and Fun to come up with your own names, but everyone has the
dreaded Writer’s Block sometime. Besides, I kept all my really good names to
Naming should be a pleasure, not a pain. Try to have a fun time thinking up
names, and that will usually come through in the name.
Remember that names are all about language and words. If you get into the mind
frame of thinking of words, letters, and names, the names will come easily to
you. And always remember to keep your eyes open for interesting words. Who knows
what treasures you could find in company names (which sometimes are just obscure
words), street signs, or license plates!
In conclusion, I do not dub myself the Supreme Grand Master of All that is
Name. Thus, you must not take my word to be the final authority. Experiment
with names, try to make them your own, think up new ways to name things. The
more you name, the more easily names will come to you!