Most names you encounter when you read a great book existed before the author chose it for a character, but there are some rare occasions when writers just invent names for their characters. You’ll find this often in the science fiction and fantasy genres, however, it’s not limited to the weirder extremities of popular fiction. There are several names for boys that we’ve accepted as completely “normal” although they were probably a touch controversial for babies first getting the name.
We’ll take a look at some baby names you probably didn’t know were invented by the likes of William Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde and also we’ll survey some newer invented names that we think might have a place today or at least we find extremely entertaining. “Made-up” names could apply to just about all of them because they had to come from somewhere, but we’re talking specifically names of fictional characters that were not prevalent before publishing. Are you ready to nerd out for a little bit? Here are 25 baby names for boys that were invented by writers.
A prince in two of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, probably named after the Caspian Sea, Caspian is a charming name for boys with a romantic vibe that’s similar to Tristan. The Caspian Sea is so named because of Qazvin, Iran. Geographically the sea is sits in between several countries including Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan.
Anne Rice‘s Lestat de Lioncourt appears in several of her novels entitled The Vampire Chronicles. If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading the pulpy novels, you’ll recognize the name from the film, Interview with the Vampire. The character was played by Tom Cruise in the film.
Walter Scott named Ivanhoe’s father Cedric, based on the Saxon name Cerdic. The original name means “cherished” and we imagine Cedric is not too far off from that.
Oscar Wilde probably got it from the Dorian tribe of Ancient Greece, but he’s the first on record to use it as a regular name for one very mean, ageless dude in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The Dorians get their name from the word Doris, a geographical moniker and district.
Ivanhoe: A Romance by Walter Scott is a historical novel published in three volumes, in 1819, as one of the Waverley novels. At the time it was written, the novel represented a shift by Scott away from writing novels set in Scotland in the fairly recent past to a more fanciful depiction of England in the Middle Ages. Ivanhoe might sound made-up because it absolutely is.
Shakespeare “invented” the name Othello for the title character in one of his plays, but Otho was an existing Roman name in use long before Shakespeare’s time. Othello is an ill-fated character who eventually kills his wife, Desdemona, and the play is fraught with themes of racism and jealousy. Which is probably why you don’t hear of too many Othellos in the US today.
Perdita’s lover in Winter’s Tale, Florizel was coined by Shakespeare and later used in literature by the likes of Benjamin Disraeli and Henry Beston. Sir Florizel Glasspole, former Governor-General of Jamaica, was a real-life bearer of the name. The most likely source is the Latin flor, meaning “flower.” Flor- names were well-used long before Shakespeare’s Florizel, but this particular variant was first recorded in Winter’s Tale.
Orville was invented by writer Fanny Burney, who may have been trying to create a name that meant Gold City French (Or-Gold) (Ville-City). The name has come to mean “golden city.” You might be familiar with this name thanks to the real-life Orville Wright, an airplane pioneer.
A name created by the poet Chrétien de Troyes for his poem Perceval, the story of the grail, a story based on Arthurian legend. This invented French name means “one who pierces the valley” thanks to the writer.
Malvolio was invented by Shakespeare for a character in his play Twelfth Night. The name borrows from two Italian roots which give the name’s meaning, “ill will.” We don’t expect parents to favor this name to ever get it into the top 1000, but if they did the world would be a much more dramatic place.
This name was created by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais for his plays The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro and The Guilty Mother. The funny, pastoral plays would later be updated by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the form of an operatic trilogy.
The name of J.R.R. Tolkiens Hobbit Hero from The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien derived this name from the German word frod meaning “wise.” We think it’s safe to say that Frodo has no place as a baby’s name today, or perhaps ever!
The name of a minor character in George R.R. Martin‘s Game of Thrones, Balon Greyjoy, the ancient lord of the Iron Islands and father to lead character Theon Greyjoy. Martin might have borrowed the name from an Old French word that means “bundle” and was an occupational name for a traveling merchant.
Ianu is an exotic name created by L. Frank Baum for a character in his book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Ianu is a boy who lives in the Valley of Voe with his parents and older sister. Ianu has potential as an alternative to Ian or Ethan. It sounds similar to Keanu, so maybe there is room for this name today.
Renly Baratheon was a fairly minor character in A Song of Ice and Fire. He would go on to lay claim to the Iron Throne. Renly, although invented by Martin, is probably based on an Old English name that means “lovely.”
Jamis was a Fremen killed by Paul in a ritual duel in Frank Herbert‘s Dune. While this name is invented, its structure makes it seem like an actual name. Jamis is similar to James, Jamie, Hamish, and Janus so it might not be too far-fetched to choose this name for your son.
Gandalf is a protagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He is a wizard, one of the Istari order, and the leader and mentor of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien took the name Gandalf from the Old Norse “Catalogue of Dwarves” in the Völuspá. The actual name is closer to Gandálfr.
Schmendrick from Peter S. Beagle‘s The Last Unicorn is a bumbling magician who travels with Mommy Fortuna’s traveling carnival out of pure necessity. Reduced to entertaining the sightseers who come to the carnival, Schmendrick wants nothing more than to become a true, powerful magician who does not rely on card tricks and cheap illusions. Do not under any circumstances name your child Schmendrick! We don’t want to get an angry email twenty years from now from a child blaming us for their misfortune!
Kvothe begins his story during his childhood, in The Name of the Wind, when he lived amongst a troupe of highly reputed traveling performers known as Edema Ruh. His loving parents train him from a young age as an actor, singer, and lute player. The name was invented by Patrick Rothfuss, a beloved writer of epic fantasy.
A Wizard of Earthsea follows a young boy called Duny, nicknamed “Sparrowhawk”, born on the island of Gont. Discovering that the boy has great innate power, his aunt teaches him the little magic she knows. Later, he goes by the name Ged. Both of these names have origins in Irish, but Ursula K. Le Guin used variations of more traditional monikers for the character.
Hoa is an invented name you can find in The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. Hoa is a mysterious boy who finds Essun in the woods and accompanies her on her journey. His coloring is completely white, including his ice-white eyes. In English-speaking countries, this name is most commonly associated with the acronym for a Homeowner’s Association.
Corlath is the mystical King of the Hillfolk of Damar and one of the few who still possess the magical gift in The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Though he is loved by his people, he too is proud and stubborn in acting in what he believes to be his people’s best interests. Corlath might not be the best choice and you might as well just go with what he’d eventually be called as a result of the name: Cory.
Sabriel’s father, Abhorsen revived his daughter after she died at birth. He was unable to save his wife, who died during childbirth. Although he rarely visited her physically while she was at school, he would often visit her through sendings of himself in the fireplace at the dark of the moon each month. You’ll find Abhorsen in Sabriel by Garth Nix. Abhorsen is not going to work, folks.
Rincewind is a fictional character appearing in several of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. He is a failed student at the Unseen University for wizards in Ankh-Morpork, and is often described by scholars as “the magical equivalent to the number zero.” Rincewind is not so great a name.
Belgarion is a fictional character and the chief protagonist in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, two fantasy epics written by David Eddings. The name is often shortened to Garion in the book and we think it actually has some appeal for parents in the real world. Garion sounds similar enough to Garret and Ian to probably work just fine for a baby boy.
There you go! 25 names for boys invented by writers. Some of these names have been with us for some time and have garnered favor while others will have to be adopted more roundly by new parents to have any staying power.