It is strongly implied, or even stated explicitly over the course of the series that Goa'uld is not a species name, but the name of a race or faction within the species, with Tok'ra being another subdivision of similar nature.

Does what the Goa'uld and Tok'ra have in common have a name separate from factional concerns?

  • 1
    Rewatching the episode, the Tok'ra specifically say they are goa'uld. just not evil. Jul 20, 2014 at 10:14

3 Answers 3


Both Tok'ra and Goa'uld have evolved from a primitive form found in the episode The First Ones. This primitive form is simply referred to as "Primitive Goa'uld". The species itself is not named.

Goa'uld means "god(s)", whereas Tok'ra means "against Ra"(the main antagonist of the film). It is important to note too, that Tok'ra are split from the Goa'uld themselves.

So to answer your question, the species itself is never named, other than the colloquial terms that are used to refer to the majority of the species (the Goa'uld). However though it is apparent that neither Goa'uld nor Tok'ra satisfactorily represents the name for the entire species, Goa'uld for all intents and purposes is the name of the species.

  • Do you have a reference for the translation of "Goa'uld" to "Children of the gods"? I remember Daniel figuring out the translation of "Tok'ra", but not the other.
    – Izkata
    Oct 4, 2012 at 19:17
  • @Izkata I actually was mis-remembering. It means "god(s)", its from Children of the Gods when Daniel translates Teal'c telling everyone that they will choose who will be the "children of the gods".
    – NominSim
    Oct 4, 2012 at 19:22
  • @NominSim: I believe it means both god(s) and Child(ren) of the god(s). Oct 4, 2012 at 22:26
  • In any case; I might not have made it clear from my question; but I was hoping for the inclusion of extraserial sources on this. Oct 11, 2012 at 0:56

I'm pretty sure the species is actually called "Goa'uld", and "Tok'ra" is simply used to refer to the not-chaotic-evil resistance against Ra and the System Lords. Use of "Goa'uld" as a faction name doesn't quite make sense, given that the System Lords (one faction) and Anubis (another faction in and of himself) are both referred to by that name.

I also seem to recall Tok'ra occasionally being referred to as Goa'uld symbiotes, but I can't be 100% sure.


The Goa'uld refer to their species as simply Goa'uld. The Tok'ra refuse to refer to themselves as Goa'uld, but refer to their species as Symbiotes. Tok'ra seem to actually refer to both host and symbiote as the given name, ie, the host is as much a Tok'ra as the symbiote.

Given all of this, the best name to the species is probably Symbiote. But it seems like both factions (Races?) seem to be content to not name their species with anything more specific.

  • Do the Tok'ra ever refer to their species itself as Symbiote? It was my impression that individual is a symbiote just as a human is a host. They are just describing (and distinguishing) the two parts of the symbiotic relationship, not actually naming themselves.
    – NominSim
    Oct 4, 2012 at 18:57
  • 1
    I just assume that they are specify symbiote in those situations to distinguish between the "snake" and the "snake in a person". i.e. There are 1000 Goa'uld symbiotes in the next room is not quite as dangerous as there are 1000 Goa'uld in the next room.
    – NominSim
    Oct 4, 2012 at 19:18

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