The Wizards in Naomi Novik's Uprooted all have meaningful names in the "spell-tongue". This as opposed to apprentices, who just go by their regular names, since they have not yet had their "naming" yet. The past names of the wizards seem not to exist once they've been Named - they are known either by their spell-tongue name, or, more commonly, by its meaning.

Thus we have "Sarkan" - Dragon, "Solya" - Falcon, "Alosha" - Sword, we have the Raven and the Willow - wizards whose name-meaning we know, but not how it's said in the spell-tongue, and we have apprentices Gregor (who got turned into a hydra) and Jakub.

And we have Father Ballo. He is clearly a full wizard - not an apprentice. So "Ballo" has to be in the spell-tongue, right? Except, we do not know it's meaning. We also don't know Ragostok's name-meaning, but Ragostok plays hardly any part at all in the story. Ballo's role is important.
And there's the "Father" part: before it was realised Ballo had magic, he was in a monastery, so presumably a monk. Does he keep the religious title, having changed his role, 'Father' just getting attached to the new name? Most people call wizards by their name-meaning, rather than by their spell-tongue name. Would Ballo thus be "The Father Whatever-Ballo-means"? Are there any hints regarding what 'Ballo' means?

2 Answers 2


Ballo’s name means ‘Owl’ in the spell-tongue.

When Agnieszka sees Father Ballo and asks the Falcon who he is, the Falcon refers to him as ‘our gentle Owl’.

“The monk kept his hand on the net, steadily pouring in magic. I kicked my horse until she grudgingly moved in closer to the Falcon’s and leaned from my saddle to whisper, “Who is he?”

“Do you mean our gentle Owl?” he said. “Father Ballo.”
- Uprooted (Chapter 17)

And Ragostok’s name means ‘the Splendid’.

The Falcon also defines Ragostok’s name for Agnieszka as well - his means ‘the Splendid”.

“There was a heap of short stubby golden bars on the table beside him and a small black velvet bag heaped with tiny glittering red jewels. He was working two bars in his hands, magic whispering out of him; his lips were moving faintly. He was running the ends of the gold together, the bars thinning under his fingers into a narrow strip. “And this is Ragostok, the Splendid,” Solya said.
- Uprooted (Chapter 17)


Ballo means owl I believe both solya and alosha say it! And Ragostok is the splendid which likely refers to his jewel making

  • Can you provide a reference for this?
    – DavidW
    Dec 6, 2020 at 3:35

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