At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.

“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.

I say, “Just call me Tess.”

“Is that how it’s pronounced?”

I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”

“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”

When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.


The Names They Gave Me

so beautiful (and so glad I got an Arab name that it’s easy to pronounce, though the downside is that it’s easier to whitewash)


  • 600 names - all of these names can be used for any gender, but I divided them into what gender they traditionally are (male, female, unisex)
  • Common and unusual names
  • Definitions and nationalities
  • Pronunciations for Irish/Scottish Gaelic names
  • English, Arabic, Japanese, Italian, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Greek, German, Latin, French, American, Spanish, Scandinavian, Hebrew, Turkish, Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Iranian/Persian names

** denotes a name heavily associated with a preexisting entity, fictional or real

Read More

Name Your Infection!

It’s the Cool Thing to Do.

Before you guys give me weird looks, and I know that some of you already are, be aware that my mind tends to wander like a vagrant who won the lottery and decided to spend it all on booze — and then proceeded to become horribly, horribly drunk in a short period of time. Today my brain decided that it wanted to come up with a new name for the plague in my novel, and while it failed horribly at that task, it did come up with this handy little guide for you.


Identify Your Concept

In order to effectively name your microscopic monster, it helps to understand what an infection is.

  • Infection – The term actually refers to several things. An infection is the invasion of a host organism by an infectious agent, the multiplication of that agent and the reaction of the host organism (usually an immune response). If the host is unable to ward off the invader, and cannot receive effective outside treatment, then disease will develop.

  • Plague – It is popularly defined as a general term for any disease that kills large numbers of an organism (usually people) and spreads quickly. The word also specifically refers to the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) that wiped out a third of Europe’s population in the 1300’s and any instance of it as it exists in modern times. Plague in the verb form means “to cause continuous trouble or distress”.

  • Epidemic – An epidemic is when a large number of people in a certain area become infected with a disease. The area can be localized like a town, or more widespread like a single country. Epidemics can be seasonal, usually caused by an agent that’s already circulating within a population, and occurring when the actual infection rate is greater than the expected.

  • Pandemic – A pandemic is the spread of infectious disease on a large scale. It must be more than one country and can extend across the globe. Pandemics are caused by agents that haven’t existed in populations, usually new virus strains or subtypes of existing strains, and are deadly.

What Causes Infectious Disease?

Infectious diseases are simply defined as diseases that can be spread between people (or other organisms) through some form of contact. They have the ability to attack one or multiple body systems. Here’s the list that I came up with for infectious agents:

  • Viruses.
  • Bacteria.
  • Parasites including flat, round, tape, hook and pin worms, as well as flukes.
  • Fungi like mold, usually via inhalation of spores or skin contact.
  • Protazoa, for instance the “brain-eating” amoeba naegleria fowleri.
  • Prions, which are proteins in a mis-folded form. An example would be bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease. Like viruses, prions aren’t actually alive but are able to reproduce by hijacking the processes of a cell.

Transmission Methods

  • Airborne.
  • Food and Water.
  • Blood and other bodily fluids like droplets of saliva.
  • Direct contact with an infected person, or in some cases a surface or object that an infected person has touched.
  • Through bites, scratches or other injuries from a vector (a mosquito is an example).

Give it a Name!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, how do names for infectious diseases, as well as those that aren’t, come about?

  • What Wonderful Buboes You Have! – Sometimes diseases are named after specific telling symptoms. The Bubonic Plague was named after the swelling of lymph nodes, turning them into oozing nodules called buboes. It was also called the Black Death due to the acral (extremities like the fingertips) gangrene that it caused, killing the skin and turning it black, as well as the fact that the buboes often filled with blood, causing them to appear darker. Another example of a disease named after a symptom would be scarlet fever, which causes red rashes on the tongue and skin.

  • The Discovery Is MINE – Diseases can be named after the person who first discovered it, a notable person infected with it and/or someone who died from it. For example amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neuron disorder, not an infectious disease) is commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the baseball player who was kiled by it. For a list of diseases named after people, check the Wikipedia page.

  • It Came From a Jungle – Or wherever else. Some diseases are named for their place of origin. Good examples are the West Nile Virus and Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, both named for rivers in the regions of Africa where they were found. For one possibly closer to home, try Lyme. It was born out of Connecticut from the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme.

  • Ride the Pig! – On occasion, pathogens like to hop the “species barrier” and infect humans. These diseases are often named for their creature of origin. Recent examples would be the Swine Flu or the Bird Flu.

  • Named By Science – And by science I mean derived from Latin or Greek words, though sometimes scientists also use abbreviations, acronyms or flat out make things up as far as naming goes. The majority of infectious diseases sport common names used by the general public and scientific names based on the specific pathogen that causes the disease. For example, bacteria are often classified and named based on their shapes. There are three main shape categories for bacteria, though others exist. They are coccus (round), bacillus (rod)and spirillum (spiral). Some bacteria are also found in certain cluster arrangements, of which there are three main ones: diplo- (pairs), strepto- (chains) and staphylo- (resembles a bunch of grapes). So, the scientific name for pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Sometimes pathogens will have acronyms, like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). And sometimes, they’ll have simple scientific names like the dengue virus that causes dengue fever.


Now go forth! Conquer that mental block and create a name for your plague that will strike fear in the hearts of all of your soon-to-be victims!


When I argue with a sexist, there’s an inevitable point at which he will call me “sweetheart”. (I like to think of it as shorthand for “you’re winning”.) If I’m really making him feel foolish, he may resort to “bitch”. “Ugly” is the last refuge of the hopelessly destroyed.

I’ve been writing about feminism on the internet long enough that these names don’t really bother me. But nothing is more grating than when a man I don’t know - in comments, Twitter or real life - calls me “Jessie”.

It may seem odd that I’d prefer a curse to a cutesy nickname. Like most things men call women when they want to diminish them, “Jessie” is meant to remind me that no matter what I accomplish – the number of books written, articles published, speeches given – I’m still “just a girl”. But it’s the overly-familiar infantilization that really makes my skin crawl. Very creepy Uncle Chester.

—  From my latest at the Guardian - on misogynists who use nicknames
Watch on

Rachel Rostad - “Names” (NPS 2013)

"Some say written language is only the bad translation of spoken. You cannot read sheet music and hear the song. You cannot read a speech and see the speaker. When the very first word was written down, something must have been lost."

Performing for SlamMN! at the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

Begin with the Name

from Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell

Plants, animals, objects, places, and people all have names. Naming people and things in your story has a practical purpose because it appeals to the reader’s loic and memory. In fiction, we name characters to differentiate them, to suggest their age, social standing, and personality, to make them solid and distinctive, and to signal to readers that the person is worth noting. Generally, the more complicated your character is, the more distinct his or her name should be, keeping in mind that names evoke responses in readers and ignite their imaginations. All fiction writers should collect names in a notebook, starting with the standard method of gathering names by perusing phone books, obituaries, and baby name books. 

Take care with creating your characters’ names, especially your villain’s name, and be careful not to choose a name that works against type. Generally, you wouldn’t choose a name for a villain that suggests a softie, nor would you give a good guy a name that has a dark connotation. The best names are suggestive, reflect the genre type, and reflect an era. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Voldemort’s name is so feared that few people speak it out loud; they instead call him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Your villain’s name should reflect menace, coldness, and strength. Use hard consonants and sounds to suggest menace or other frightening characteristics, like Stark, the villain in Stephen King’s The Dark Half. Conversely, good guys will have names that suggest goodness or strength, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.

You are also wise to use names that are suggestive; for example, Romeo suggests romance, Holly Golightly suggests a light-hearted nature, and Scarlett O’Hara suggests a flamboyant beauty. In Dean Koontz’s Forever Odd, the villainess is named Datura, which reflects her kinkiness, coldness, and cruelty. However, Koontz cleverly has chosen a name with layers of meaning, something fiction writers are always striving for. Datura is a flowering plant that is also called devil’s trumpet and angel’s trumpet, and there are many myths associated with it in cultures worldwide. 

Things to consider about a character’s name:

Who named them? What kind of a person were they? What was their thought process in selecting this name?

What are the naming traditions like in-universe? Are people frequently named for family members? Are names ever changed (and if so, for what reasons)? Are there any naming traditions that your character chooses not to follow? Does your cast show trends of popular names or naming traditions for their world?

What is your character’s attitude towards their name? Do they like it? Are they embarrassed by it? Do they prefer a nickname?

Is their name easy or difficult for people to pronounce and spell in-story? How does your character feel about that?

If they have a nickname/title/otherwise go by something other than their birth name, how did they come by this name? Did they earn it? Is it an observation about them or their personality? 

kagami-aomine said:

Do you have a name generator?

Here are the ones I know of:

  • Fantasy Name Generators. They also have a “Real Names” category broken up by country/culture
  • Behind the Name’s Random Renamer. This one’s nice because you can select any number of cultures you want to pull names from, and then you can click on the generated names to see their origin, meaning, etc.
  • This site lets you pick the number, gender(s), and popularity of names and then gives you a first and last name

I’m sure there are tons more out there though!

anonymous said:

Hi, FYCD! I'll start off by saying I absolutely love this blog. It's been so helpful with my writing. Anyway, my question is: If a story is set in an alternate world, would it be odd for the characters to have, say, Ancient Greek and Roman names? Or would it be best to make up names instead?

I guess it depends on whether you’re writing earth but in an alternate timeline or if you’re writing a totally different world of your own.

In which case, it would be fine to use Ancient Greek/Roman names for the former. Suzanne Collins did exactly that for The Hunger Games, and I believe the setting there was earth but in the very distant future after an apocalypse.

I would say it’s always better to make up your own names when creating your own world (just from a world building perspective), but if you can find a reason for why an ‘alien’ character might have a human name then don’t let my suggestion stop you.


I hope this has cleared things up for you anyway.

- enlee

Nymbler is the smart baby name guide that responds to your personal taste. Just choose a few names that appeal to you or let Nymbler offer ideas. Then press “Find Names” and Nymbler will start using its expert knowledge to brainstorm names tailored to fit your style.

It was just brought to my attention that the post with this link I’d reblogged a little while ago was broken.  I can’t change the link of a reblogged post so here it is again with a working link! The original post was made by, so they get the credit for finding this site

anonymous said:

Do you have any post about how to name the world I'm creating?

When naming an entire world, you can have several names for it if there are several languages in your world. If you have come up with fake languages or if you have an idea of what your fake language sounds like, you can create a name that matches that language.

You can give meaning to the name and you probably should. You can name it after what the land looks like, who lives there, who discovered it, or anything else.

Using real languages to create a name for your world is another option. Find root words that match what you want to reflect in this name.



If there is anyone out there who is absolutely shit at naming like me, Behind the Name has a great tool.

"Yes, we know, they have an awesome name generator!" I hear you say.



They also have a “Name Themer.” It is delightful. You can theme your names based on whatever - strength, beauty, mother, son, yellow, orange, big, small, names associated with flowers or the ocean or astronomy or whatever. It’s hella.