guild of seamstresses

I woke up this morning with the urge to post a brief and thoroughly non-exhaustive list of Discworld pun/reference names of varying levels of obscurity that people may or may not have gotten, and HERE IT IS.

  • Vetinari is a play on “Medici,” the extremely powerful Italian political family who inspired Macchiavelli’s “The Prince.”
  • The philosopher Didactylos’s name literally means “two fingers,” which refers to a rude British gesture roughly equivalent to flipping someone off.
  • Death’s manservant Alberto Malich is named after Albertus Magnus.
  • The feuding Ankh-Morpork Selachii and Venturi noble families are named, respectively, for the scientific name for sharks and a part found in jet engines. This is a reference to the feuding Sharks and Jets street gangs in the musical West Side Story, which is itself a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
  • “Nobby” is a slang term for a policeman. Nobby’s dad, Sconner, gets his name from- well, you know how the Nac Mac Feegle call people “ya wee scunner”? Same word.
  • The guide to nobility Twurp’s Peerage is named after the Roundworld equivalent, Burke’s Peerage.
  • Mrs. Rosemary “Rosie” Palm, head of the Guild of Seamstresses, is named for. Um. Something a bit… rude.
  • All the golems mentioned in Feet of Clay have Yiddish names, and mostly uncomplimentary ones. “Dorfl” means “idiot” and “Meshugah” means “crazy.”
  • The head of the dwarves running the printing press in The Truth is Gunilla Goodmountain, whose surname is a literal translation of “Gutenberg,” the inventor of movable type.
  • The Smoking GNU is a reference to the GNU operating system.
  • Ridcully was introduced in Moving Pictures as “Ridcully the Brown,” as an extended parody of Radagast the Brown from Lord of the Rings.
  • Black Aliss is named for Black Annis, and the god Herne the Hunted is a play on Herne the Hunter.
  • “Greebo” means… well, I’ll quote the Annotated Pratchett File: “'Greebo’ is a word that was widely used in the early seventies to  describe the sort of man who wanders around in oil-covered denim and  leather (with similar long hair) and who settles disagreements with a  motorcycle chain – the sort who would like to be a Hell’s Angel but  doesn’t have enough style.”
  • Nanny Ogg’s house is called “Tir Nanny Ogg,” a play on “Tír na nÓg,” the otherworld in Irish mythology.
  • Miss Treason’s given name, Eumenides, is another name for the Erinyes, Greek goddess of vengeance.
  • Erzulie Gogol’s first name is shared with a Vodou goddess, and “Baron Saturday” is a play on “Baron Samedi.” (EDIT: somebody said it’s actually a straight English translation, which I was not aware of.)
  • Desiderata Hollow, good fairy godmother, has a first name derived from the Latin word for “to wish.”
  • “Lilith de Tempscire”‘s surname is just a French translation of “Weatherwax.”
  • The terrible pun in Casanunda’s name (he’s a dwarf, so he’s UNDA, not OVA) is probably obvious to a lot of people, but it took YEARS for me to notice it, so I’m including it on this list.
  • The old Count de Magpyr’s name is Bela de Magpyr, after, of course, Bela Lugosi. (And Vlad also mentions an aunt Carmilla.)
  • “Djelibeybi,” for those unfamiliar with British sweets or classic Doctor Who, is pronounced identically to “jelly baby.” The country of Hersheba was introduced after many, many Americans failed to get the joke- with limited success, because it’s less immediately recognizable as a play on “Hershey bar.”
  • “Omnian” is a multilingual play on “Catholic.” Omni- is a root meaning “everything,” and “Catholic” originally meant “universal.”
  • Lu-Tze’s name is a play on Laozi/Lao-Tzu/Lao-Tze, founder of Taoism.
  • Dr. Follett, head of the Assassin’s Guild thirty years ago in Night Watch, is named for… author Ken Follett, in exchange for a significant monetary donation to charity.

I just realized, I just bloody realized, Moist Von Lipwig’s story arc is a game of Monopoly through the eyes of a conman going through the board and winning all the pieces.

He has the top hat, the dog, the train (which replaces to automotive in newer boards) the friendship of the Seamstress’ Guild (thimble), the walking iron called Gladys, the boot (he’s the incarnation of the Disc God Fedecks who has winged boots) and also the bag of money.*   He goes to jail, but eventually gets to pass and go. He’s integral in the rehabilitation of civic buildings (post office, bank, mint, the acquisition of land to build a railway and then adding stations to said railway), the owner of up market private property, and also he invents paper money which everyone sort of thinks of as a bit of a game.

His very name, Moist Von Lipwig, is a pun about wearing a fake lip wig or mustache. Like so:

Lord Vetinari is quite literally using him to play a life size version of Monopoly with the city. And winning.

(Amendment: Adora with hear deadly footwear is also the shoe/boot.)

(* Alternates: Sam Vimes is boots, Gaspode and Beggars Guild is dog, Wheelbarrow is Harry King, Thimble is Seamstress Guild, Battlehsip/canon is Assassins Guild/Nobility, Money Bag is Thieves Guild, leaving Moist as Top Hat and Train. ANKH-MORPORK MONOPOLY, GIVE IT TO ME) 

((edited for typos, too busy flailing))!!!!!

I had somehow forgotten the detail from The Truth that when Vetinari was under suspicion of murder, the four guild leaders who voted in his favor while they were trying to select a new Patrician were all female and included the heads of the guilds of Exotic Dancers and Seamstresses.

“What an interesting life Lord Vetinari must have led” indeed.


Check it! I made a discworld thing! A sewing kit/ needlebook themed after the guild of seamstresses! The slogan ” no pleasure without payment” is on the cover. Even comes with one of Sonky’s preventatives!!! Tutorial soon to follow! The more I look at my sewing kit, the more I realize I missed something crucial. The Sonky needs some armor or micro mail or it won’t be very Protective. It is in a case full of pointy things.