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There are several Symbiotes in the Marvel universe (or multi-verse if you'd prefer) including Venom, Carnage, Toxin, Anti-Venom, Scream, Riot and many many others.

The Symbiotes that were genetically created by the Life Foundation (i.e. Scream, Riot, Phage, Agony and Lasher) were given code-names (by the scientists I'd presume). As mentioned here,

The Life Foundation was at one point researching a way to create "super-cops" to police their new Utopia. Towards that end, they probed the Venom symbiote and extracted the last five of its "seeds" -- the basis for later spawn as the symbiotes reproduce asexually. These were cultured and bonded to five of the Life Foundation's best security personnel to form the Guardians. The individuals eventually became known by the code-names Scream, Riot, Phage, Agony and Lasher. Either due to the extraction process, the effect of the Earth environment on the spawn, or both, these symbiotes proved to be even more mutated than Carnage.

But from where did the original Symbiotes from Klyntar get their names (e.g., Venom and Carnage)?

  • Note that this article is presumably out of date, as Venom had a child in 2018. – RDFozz Oct 30 '18 at 17:29
  • @RDFozz technically speaking I guess it's even earlier than that as Venom refers to Carnage as his "son" sometimes... Same goes fore Carnage and Toxin... Aaaah the joys of Symbiotes parenthood – Jenayah Oct 30 '18 at 17:32
  • @Jenayah - The extraction would have happened after Carnage was born, so (until this latest "birth") it could probably be considered accurate. – RDFozz Oct 30 '18 at 17:48
  • In the Spider-Man cartoon of the 90s. Venom names himself specifically because of the rejection by Peter Parker. "We're poison to you Spider-Man, that's why we call ourselves Venom" – Jack B Nimble Oct 31 '18 at 3:43
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There's no clear source for most symbiote names. Some have been named by themselves and/or their host; others have taken on names provided by others.

  • Venom: During its time with Peter Parker, the symbiote isn't communicating with Peter, so there's no hint of a name. By the time we see first see Venom, Brock and the symbiote are already using the name. Given how both the symbiote and Eddie feel about Peter, the name seems a natural choice. (Note: I have never read Venom: Dark Origin, which may shed light on this).

  • Carnage: Similarly, Cletus Kasady and the Carnage symbiote bonded and took on their name "off-screen". We see the moment when Venom's "seed" is left behind in the cell with Kasady in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #344, and next see him already calling himself Carnage in Amazing Spider-Man #360. Given that Kasady is a serial killer before he gets a symbiote, this is probably a name Kasady chose (his symbiote generally seems quieter than Venom, and is bonded to him uniquely (historically, at least)).

  • Toxin: Venom gave his "grandchild" the name Toxin (in Venom vs. Carnage #2).

  • Anti-Venom is obviously named after Venom; its first host is Eddie Brock, and he obviously saw this as the opposite of Venom. (As it was apparently created from some part of Venom left over in Brock's body after he separated from Venom). It's not entirely clear if the Anti-Venom symbiote has its own personality to the extent most of the other symbiotes seem to, so this may turn out to be a special case.

  • With Scorn, who was made from a sample of Carnage's symbiote, the name came out when the intended host bonded with the symbiote, without previous discussion (Carnage (2011) #5). Of course, Scorn had partially bonded with her host before her host knew she was a symbiote. I can't recall any specific reason for that name being chosen.

  • Mania (a part of the Venom symbiote that Flash Thompson separated off to protect a teenager from poison gas, but which bonded to her instead) seems to have taken that name from a conversation with Flash (OK, more a lecture, but still - Venom (2011) # 40). This is another case where the name may have been chosen by the host, or by the host and symbiote jointly.

  • Raze (from Carnage (2015), first appears in #10) has the name when we first see her; however, she seems to be under Kasady's control, so we don't know if she came up with the name, or he did (it seems more like Cletus' style, so I'd guess him).

  • Sleeper: The latest new symbiote, named in Venom: First Host, doesn't seem to be referred to by name "on-screen", but we are told (in the "previously" summary) that it's named Sleeper. Since no one suggests that name on-screen (as far as I could see), presumably this one names itself. I'll also note this may be the least vicious-sounding name we've been given for a symbiote.

That gives us:

  • Name chosen by a third party: 2 (Toxin, Raze)
  • Name chosen by symbiote: 1 (Sleeper)
  • Name chosen by host and/or symbiote, after some time spent bonding: 5 (Venom, Carnage, Anti-Venom, Scorn, Mania)

From this, it seem most likely that the symbiote accepts a name suggested by the host, although it may have influence over the decision. Certainly, once a name has been selected, they don't seem to want to change it. Venom has had several hosts but has kept the same name; Toxin at least two, but has kept its same name (of course, the second host gave it its name).

Sleeper did have three hosts; the first two short-term, and the third in no position to choose anything beyond the first few minutes. He could have pulled that name out of any of the three, however. It's also possible that Eddie had the idea for the name, but didn't really push it as he knew he'd take back the Venom symbiote as soon as it could be rescued; Eddie was the only one the symbiote had been bonded to at the point the name appeared in the "Previously" description in the comic.

(Of course, we have to keep in mind that these are all offshoots of extremely damaged Klyntar (with the possible exception of Sleeper; Venom has been through a healing ceremony, though his time with Lee Price may have caused new damage). Klyntar brought up on their homeworld, under normal circumstances, may be given names the equivalent of Caitlin and Bryce by their parent.)

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TL;DR: Symbiotes' names when they're just black Klyntar goo are unclear. As for when they're bonded, it's unclear whether their names are "inherent" or resulting from the symbiosis - save for Venom, which was a deliberate choice.


While on Klyntar/not bonded

In the early appearances of the Venom Symbiote, it wasn't referred to with a name ("the alien costume", "the Symbiote", etc). This might be a matter of the writers not having a definite idea, or just a storytelling perspective, but later on when the Symbiote lore grew more consistent, the Symbiotes were still not referred to with names of their own.

For instance, when Knull, the "God-Host", addresses Eddie's Symbiote in Venom #4 (2018), he always calls him "my child". While it could be argued that it's only him being condescending, he does address Eddie both as "host" and by his civilian name.

Knull tells Eddie he's been lied to

Furthermore, Symbiotes operate in a hive mind. Without dwelling into the various "hive mind" definitions, most of the time it strips its members of individuality. If all your thoughts are connected/shared, does one need a name?

Although it might be possible they do have names, just not "as other civilizations would understand it", as it's the case with their culture (Venom #3, 2017). Such names could be understood by hosts, though (see Toxin example below).

While bonded

Venom

In Venom's big reveal in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (1988), Eddie gave a little backstory of what he became after Spider-Man proved a big article of his wrong, which led to to Eddie being fired. As one still needs to pay the rent, Eddie wrote for cheap newspapers, with lurid "I was abducted by aliens" articles and the like. For a journalist at heart, that counts as spewing out venom, hence the name.

You may call me Venom, for what it's what I'm paid to spew out these days

Carnage

In-universe, Pat Mulligan (human part of Toxin Symbiote) refers to Carnage as a Symbiote entering Cletus Kasady. This might imply that Carnage's name was already is own, but as he says the same of Venom, it's possible he's just mistaken and thinks that the Symbiotes' names are their own - Venom's wasn't, as explained above. Panel is from Toxin #1 (2005).

"Carnage entered that other guy... Cletus Kasady"

Out-of-universe, Carnage's name was a bit of a debate, as revealed in an interview given by Danny Fingeroth (former Marvel Comics editor) to Syfy. Some names which would fit a psycho killer like Carnage were already taken, such as Chaso and Ravage. The writers settled on Carnage.

Prior to settling on the name Carnage, Fingeroth said, the creators at Marvel cycled through several other names, including Chaos and Ravage, which were in use elsewhere in the Marvel universe.

Marvel creators reveal Carnage's sociopathic origin, plus what's next for Venom, Syfy, October 19, 2018

Anti-Venom

This one is self-explanatory. Eddie "purged" the Venom Symbiote out of his body, but some remnants still stayed, and when he underwent a shady cancer cure, those were turned into all-healing powers cells. Especially, they meant to cure the "poison, the disease" Venom was, as shown in The Amazing Spider-Man #569 (2008). What a better name than Anti-Venom?

Anti-Venom is born

Toxin

Toxin was given his lovely name by his grandfather, Venom, in Venom vs. Carnage #2 (2004). How Venom came up with Toxin instead, of, say, Little Bobby Tables, seem pretty obvious.

"Toxin, it's the name I've given to my grandchild"

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