Name, Who's Got the Name?
Various Name Websites
©2003, Gerri Baker
I create characters, I often visualize them going through the motions of the
life I intend for them to live in my story. Until I find names for them, their
faces don't fill in; they have fuzzy, indistinct blobs for eyes, nose and mouth.
Also, they don't walk through the world in my head; they float just off the
ground, like ghosts. But when I give my characters names, they solidify.
Suddenly, they have faces and hair and clothing. I can hear what their voices
sound like, and their personalities light up around them. The names make them
real for me.
finding the perfect name takes time. While my first line of attack is my Writer's
Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook, I'm not always at home with my book at
hand. Other times, the book simply doesn't have a name that clicks for me.
Fortunately, the Internet provides multiple resources for name fanatics such as
doesn't just provide a database of names and meanings. The database can be
accessed through a traditional search or by nationality. The site also provides
lists of popular baby names between 1998-2000.
Other nice things about this site are the articles on naming and the
Shakespearean name list. One disadvantage: pop-up hell.
has a list of 5000+ names, sorted by either alphabetical or national origin. The
information about each name is easy to read, but only offers a surface meaning.
Also, the site is very commercialized.
Baby Name Network (www.babynamenetwork.com/index.cfm)
provides a few exotic, but limited
nationality-naming resources such as Zimbabwe, Swahili, and Basque. It also has
easy access to the most popular baby name list for 2001.
(www.eponym.org/) is a link site for other
naming websites. It's a useful website for those people hunting for non-Western
names as well as people interested in thinking about what kinds of names work
well for children as well as characters. This site has lots of places to go;
it's guaranteed to keep any surfer busy for a long time.
provides just that: 20,000+ names to look at, covering both boys' and girls'
names as well as those for pets. The search engine can do either alphabetical or
nationality based searches, and the names include multiple spellings that fall
under one category. Their definitions include elaborations where necessary. The
only major problem with this site is the default print is awfully small, which
makes the site hard to read.
the Name (www.behindthename.com/)
provides a wonderful resource for those writers who choose the names of
characters by the meanings. By dividing their lists into nationalities, Behind
the Name provides a handy way for authors to develop a consistent naming
pattern. The definitions are a bit sketchy at times, but links to name origins
are provided. The other nice thing about this site is their its mythology name
list, which covers not only the mythological name, but the origin of that myth.
the heavyweight name website is the Kalabarian (www.kabalarians.com/html/surf_by.htm).
This website claims over 866,000 names in a wide array of types. They have the
mundane nationalities such as Korean, Indian, Romanian, English, or Greek, to
name only a very few. But the site also includes such categories as Hippy,
Ferengi, and Flowers. And those aren't even the strange categories. WWF, anyone?
(No, I'm not kidding.) While this site is excellent for inspiration, its name
definitions are not traditional or classic meanings. Instead, the list is
intended to be a sales promotion for their particular brand of divination, so
the meanings attached to the names are based on the Kalabarian's numerology.
characters is a tricky business, almost as important as naming a baby. Take the
time to choose the right name for the character, and enjoy surfing through these
websites. Inspiration awaits. Good luck!
Kenyon. The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook. (Writer's Digest
Books, 1994, ISBN 0-89879-632-6) $18.99 U.S.