Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's In A (Character) Name?

Confession: I love Googling baby names.

Sometimes for research. Sometimes for no reason at all.

Yesterday, as I was remembering all the main characters I've ever come up with, I thought about how I named them. Then I found a connective thread--all of their names have meanings that are evident in their personalities. 

Let's take my name, for example. I am Amparo. It is in Spanish. 

In Spanish, my name means:

1) protection

2) shelter; refuge

Do I offer protection and shelter to others?

Some people would say, "Sure. In a very... stalker-ish way... *flees*"

Others would say, "Ha! Amparo, PROTECTIVE??? *dies laughing*"

Others would say, "Who the heck is Amparo? And what is his problem? *rolls eyes*"

So. According to my parents, I was born to protect and shelter. 

Very kind of them.

Anyway, character names. They have meanings. If you're anything like me, your fake people will probably behave according to what their name means. Because of this, I figured it would be very protective and shelter-y of me if I helped y'all out. You know, to make sure your characters have the best names possible.

Here are a coupe gems:

If your MC can rock-climb while asleep, or is related to Jensen Ackles, you can name him...

If your MC is a high maintenance girl with neon fuschia nails and a pony, you can name her...

If your MC is in a Southern setting and has a beer belly, you can name him...

If your MC is an elf/dwarf/wizard/hobbit walking around an epic fantasy manuscript, you can name him...

If your MC is the belle of the ball and has a great time socializing with all sorts of people, you can name him...

There you go. Options, galore. :)

Now tell me: do you research baby names with particular meanings for your characters?? 


  1. LOL at those stickers! Love this post! Names are fun to make up, but occasionally I'll get a character who is really hard to name. Nothing seems to fit, ya know? That's when comes in handy! I can search by language, first letter, and male or female. Helps so much!

    My favorite author to emulate, at least in MG lit, is JK Rowling because she rocked the character namings! Sirius Black? Made of win!

  2. You have a gorgeous name and better still, it;s got meaning!!!

    I do like Inigo Montaya You Killed My Father Prepare to Die!:-)

    Take care

  3. Haha! I love your name :) I chose my MC's name based on a classic movie I loved as a little girl. I love the idea of a name's meaning indicating traits of the character.

  4. You have a great name!
    As for character names, yeah, I research baby names if I'm writing something contemporary. If I'm writing medieval fantasy, I go with names that fit the period and have meaning.

  5. Ba ha ha ha! Love this. I'm like you, I google baby names all the time. I try to have the character's name meaning reflect them, too.

  6. Lol. I'm very random when it comes to naming my characters. Sometimes I look on baby name sites, but most of the time I use the first thing that pops into my head that seems to fit the character.

  7. Yes. I use you can search by ethnic background and sex. It is great!

  8. Since I make up most of my names (fantasy story) I don't do much research on baby names for writing. But in the interest of general knowledge, yes, I research names.
    Nicole, thanks for posting! That looks like a good resource.

  9. I totally research baby names. I love picking names for characters. And I totally LOL'd on "my name is 'hard to pronounce'." So true.

  10. I love choosing names that mean something, too. And I love your name tag "Hard to Pronounce". Made me smile.

  11. THANK YOU for sharing my baby name obsession! Makes me feel less weird :)

    Katrina--Sirius Black is the BEST NAME EVER. And yes, rules.

    Old Kitty--*blushes* Thanks, girlie! My son will be named Inigo Montoya You Killed My Father Prepare To Die. I feel like it builds character, you know?

    Saumya--I actually do that, too! Mainly for secondary characters. I find names I grew up loving, or that I remember from books/movies I love, and use them.

    LinWash--Thanks! I agree. Setting and genre are VERY important when it comes to naming characters. You just can't have a dude named Justin Bieber in a Lord Of The Rings spinoff :)

    Shallee--YAY for Google! Seriously. That thing saves lives.

    Lindsay--I like your approach, and I usually name characters that aren't that important the first thing I can come up with. Haven't changed over the years.

    Nicole--THANKS for the site link! Will check it out soon :)

    Lindz--I bow down to you. Making up names is HARD, at least for me. Kudos.

    Sarah--That was the BEST NAME out of all of them. I'm seriously considering it as a suggestion for future godchildren :)

  12. LOL, yes I try to give my characters' names meaning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Nice post!

  13. Oh, I research! And I have a 1000 baby name book that is torn up. I use it for all sorts of names. But some character names bug me, like the ones that are supposed to be ironic or nicknamey.