Friday, July 24, 2009

What's in a name?

How do you come up with your character names? Is it something you just innately know or do you struggle with it? Mine seems to be half and half. Some are just a given - Lexi and Cam. Others take much time, consideration, and several find-and-replace-tool uses in Microsoft Word - Gwen, Aislynn and Aidan.

Some of my characters are from another planet, so I made up strange but still semi-pronouncable names for them - Torgan, Aya, Sarai, Kellin.

So I wanted to play a little game today. Where/How do you get your names and what do they mean? has a cool little search tool where you can look up name meanings.

Here are a few of mine that I found intriguing. Keep in mind, I looked none of these up before using them.

Lexi - means Defender/Protector (how awesome is that for a heroine? eek!)

Cam - means Crooked Nose--I'm sure I can find some way to make that fit. ;)

Gwen - means Blessed--the most optimistic character, perfect.

Lincoln - means Lake Colony...yeah, I don't know how this fits...but I just love the name, so I don't care :P

Just for kicks, I'm going to check some of the weird alien names. :P

Torgan, Aya, Kellin & Metus - nothing

Sarai - means Princess in Hebrew... fascinating!

For those Insomnia fans out there...

Parker - means Keeper of the Park, LOL

Mia - means Admirable

Andy - means Manly, hahaha--honestly, my Andy would get a kick out of that.

Anyway, this was way too much fun for me... tell me about your character names and their meanings! :)


  1. I usually pick names that have a "feel" to them. But with ninjas I did look for a specific name for my MC. It had to have meaning, be 100% Japanese, but also had to have a "nickname" factor.

    Toshiro means intelligent, which works well for him. I also shortened it to Tosh for the American factor.

    With Amy, I needed a "typical" American name that a Japanese American family would use. I just looked it up, and it means "beloved." Which is freakishly perfect for her.

    For Courtney, I wanted a "snotty" name, but not one of the classic 80s cheerleader names like Brittany or Tiffany or Ashley, etc. It fit. Looking it up—this is hilarious—it actually means "courteous." Yeah, uh, that's about as opposite as possible.

    Fun game, hehe.

  2. Natalie - How perfect for Tosh and Amy, and how funny about Courtney. I love it :) Thanks for playing!

  3. My son's name is Cameron (goes by Cam most of the time now). I'll have to pass on the meaning of his name to him. He'll get a big kick out of it!

  4. The names of my two main characters came to me without any thought. My teenage sister gave me names for the others (using her list of friends). It's actually funnny now because she'll be talking about her real life friends by name and I get mixed up with my fictional characters with the same name.

    Great post!

  5. Sometimes they just come to me...other times...I look up what the top 100 names were in the year the character was born. I have the hardest time with last names though. Alot of times, my last names are also first names- Morgan, Marshall, Daniels....

    One of my main character's names is Lexi too! She is a super strong woman...sassy as all hell!

  6. I did a whole thing on names on my blog a while back. I made charts and everything about which letter was the most popular for male and female names.

    And so now I try to choose names that DON'T start with those letters. I want my names to be unique but still pronouncable. Is that a word? LOL. It's not underlined...

  7. I keep a list of names I like and choose from it. I look over it and choose the name that feels right but over time, the characters just kind of become the story.

  8. Lazy Writer - I have a son named Cameron too! I can see now that you have excellent taste in names ;)

    Megan - Haha, I have a similar problem. My male lead in two of my books have the same names as my son. It gets a little confusing sometimes. :P

    Stephanie - Gotta love Lexi's! I have the same problem with last names too, by the way. I change them randomly and often.

    Elana - I'll have to look up that blog post :) I agree, unique but pronouncable. (I don't care if it's a real word, I love it :P)

    Stephanie Faris - That sounds like a good way to go about it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I find that names sort of jump out at me from strange places... TV shows, people I know, people friends of mine know. If I come across a name I like, I write it down for future use. Sometimes I do a little research and look for hidden meanings to names. I spend a lot of time on baby naming websites! :D

  10. I wrote about a girl who was once a tree (a little wierd, I know, and not surprisingly the idea fizzled out) and her name was Dara which means Oak. Hmmm, the name was better than the concept.

  11. Mandy - I usually get my names from people I know too. :)

    Jessie - LOL! Love the Dara = Oak thing... too bad the idea fizzled, the name was brilliant!

  12. I wish I had a formula or set way. I just kind of stumble around until I find one that seems to fit. My main character of current WIP came because I wanted a certain meaning. Another character popped into my head, name and all.

  13. My children's names mean Gift and Strong tower. They are both proud of them. I like putting meaning behind the names.

  14. Jaime - Hiya! :) Thanks for visiting! I am the same way, some characters are named at concept... others are more difficult

    Diane - Great names! That's really neat!