I would assume that someone has asked this question before but I haven't found any discussion about the name of Ankh-Morpork. Ever since I read my first Discworld book, I kept wondering about this name. I am not a native speaker, so I wonder if I miss any pun or reference to the real world?


3 Answers 3


There's a discussion of this in The Annotated Pratchett.

Terry has said that the name 'Ankh-Morpork' was inspired neither by the ankh (the Egyptian cross with the closed loop on top), nor by the Australian or New Zealand species of bird (frogmouths and small owls, respectively) that go by the name of 'Morepork'.

And apparently when somebody suggested that Ankh-Morpork was a takeoff on Fritz Leiber's city of Lankhmar, where most of the stories with Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are set, Terry said

"Bravd and the Weasel were indeed takeoffs of Leiber characters – there was a lot of that sort of thing in The Colour of Magic. But I didn't – at least consciously, I suppose I must say – create Ankh-Morpork as a takeoff of Lankhmar."

On the other hand, Bravd and the Weasel in The Colour of Magic are clearly takeoffs of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and Ankh-Mor sounds very much like Lankhmar, so I think it's quite possible that Terry unconsciously used Lankhmar as a model for the name of the city.

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    Dang, beat me to it! May 20, 2017 at 20:21
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    I've read your link, but I still wonder: Terry Pratchett said that he wasn't inspired by these words, but did he say why he had chosen this name? Did he ever mention anything he had on his mind? Was it just the sound of the words? Was he just hungry at that time, thinking about having more pork with his next meal?
    – not2savvy
    May 20, 2017 at 20:52
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    However, LATER it appears the Ankh-Morpork was retconned to be derived from the Ankh and the Morepork, as every representation of the city seal I've found shows a small owl holding an ankh in its claws. (Of course, it also shows hippopotami wearing gold chains, but what can you do? Fashion is so fickle...). May 21, 2017 at 2:06
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    @Bob: Obviously that's in the other leg of the trousers of time...
    – Kevin
    May 21, 2017 at 2:45
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    @BobJarvis: Or it could just be a pun in-universe. They're common in heraldry in our world: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canting_arms
    – wyvern
    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:43

On a slightly more surreal note, Pratchett jokes in the Fifth Elephant that 'Morpork' is the word in the Beyonk language of Uberwald for an item of ladies' underwear.

Lord Vetinari quickly cuts off Vimes when he starts speculating about exactly which item.

Probably more of a tongue in cheek joke than intended seriously but potentially relevant to the discussion?


Hmmm.... maybe the name came from this brand of meat product from ages ago?

old commercial

(note the MOR PORK tin in the first train car)

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    It certainly doesn't come from a description of Throat's sausages... Aug 29, 2018 at 19:01

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