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With a few exceptions, Borg drones are usually named X of Y, where X and Y are numbers. But what does that mean? I am especially interested in understanding what the latter part implies.

  • Does the "of Y" part always refer to other drones, or to something else (Like: 4 of 6 meaning "4th drone of ship 6")
  • How are the drones in the same number pool (Say, the other 8 people sharing the surname "of Nine") "related"? Do they work on the same stuff, or are they also more closely connected? I think I remember a Voyager episode where they were forming some kind of subcollective, but I can't remember if this was the norm or not
  • Are these individual designations? Given the sheer amount of borg drones, I would expect names more in the ballpark of "50.312 of 101.2342", yet the names we see all are one-digit integers.

Since I am pretty sure (I might be wrong though) that the naming is not addressed in any of the series or movies, I would also accept explanations from novels or games.

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2 Answers 2

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Those names are job titles.

Seven of Nine's full name is "Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01."

Unimatrix means a large group of Borg with 01 being the Borg queen's group of Borg, and tertiary adjunct is a job title basically meaning the third helper.

So, she's the seventh of a group of nine drones, with the job of a third helper in Unimatrix one. These titles are flexible, and they can change as a Borg changes their roles.

They also have unique identifiers. Seven of Nine's is 108.44236000. From Timeless.

"For the record, Seven's translink frequency is one zero eight point four four two three six zero zero zero."

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    Why would "translink frequency" refer to an identifier? Surely that's the frequency of their built-in communicator? Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 8:43
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    Because it's used as a unique way to call just her.
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 9:21
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    The borg don't really care about individualism, and so names aren't that important to them. If you need to address an individual drone you use their translink frequency, their phone number basically, and the names just serve for identification in small groups.
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 11:19
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    The whole point of this naming style is that Borg drones aren't individuals and lack singular identities, so their "names" aren't really suitable for the purpose by human standards. Seven choosing to maintain the last designation she held is an act of resisting assimilation (by humans). An illustrative comparison might be to the Unsullied in Game of Thrones. These are slave soldiers who randomly draw new (dehumanizing) names by lot every day. When freed, some choose to keep the name they held on that day, even insulting ones like "Grey Worm". In that case, it's a matter of reclamation.
    – Amanadiel
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 12:22
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    I've always wondered why it's "3rd of 5" but "7 of 9". He had an ordinal number while hers was cardinal. Shouldn't it be "7th of 9" to be consistent? Granted it's probably just because that's harder to say, and with her being a major regular character, and them figuring everyone would forget about Hugh's few appearances way back in the day 2 entire series earlier, they chose the name that rolls off the tongue a bit less awkwardly. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 21:08
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The first such name shown is Hugh's, in the TNG episode "I, Borg". When Geordi asks for a way to refer to him - with Hugh initially unclear on the concept - he eventually says that he is "Third of Five". Geordi connects this to the five Borg crewing the crashed scout ship where they found him.

So, these are not so much names as the equivalent of when you place a large online order and it arrives in multiple packages labeled 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, or like when you get a numbered ticket when joining a queue. They're almost certainly not unique, except in so far as the Borg may rarely use them internally, so a specific identifier like "Seven of Nine" might only refer to one person because the other seventh members of nine-drone groups don't ever get referred to individually like that.

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    In "I, Borg", Hugh is asked if he has "a name, a means of identification", to which he immediately responds with "third of five". We can't infer much more from that other than that this is a means of identification for them. Crucially, we do not learn the meaning behind this means of identification, which is what I am asking for in this question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 11:46
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    ...and Geordi immediately connects the "five" to the crew of the scout ship, clearly communicating that the name means "he was the third member of a crew of five". That is the plain meaning of the exchange: the closest thing Hugh has to an identifier is a description of his membership in a smaller sub-group of Borg, which is linked to a (probably temporary) grouping of drones for a specific mission. There's nothing I'm aware of to suggest a deeper or more complex meaning than this clear one.
    – Amanadiel
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 12:30
  • No, that's not really what happens, and the distinction is crucial: Geordi asks if the number refers to the number of borg on the ship, but he doesn't get an answer. Hugh himself implies later on that the numbers are some kind of designation, but it doesn't get any more specific than that. The only information we can glean from that episode is: 1) It's a designation of some kind, 2) Geordi assumes it has something to do with the number of borg .
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 12:57
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    Geordi does not ask him if the number refers to the ship. He observes that there were five on the ship, then asks if that's the only available identifier: youtu.be/e_etbhWJoMo We are shown that the only identifier this drone can think to offer is a number that a character points out corresponds to the size of the group he was found with. The meaning of that is straightforwardly obvious. The episode is telling us something simple and not being coy about it. You could invent alternate interpretations if you wish but there's no reason I can see to do so.
    – Amanadiel
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 13:03
  • I do not dispute that it is an identifier. Both your and Geordi's observation is the easiest one available in "I, Hugh". But the lore about the Borg has expanded after this, and so has the information we have available about the meaning behind the names. The other answer raised that there is another identifier available per drone. A Voy episode establishes that in one case, the drones carrying the same "surname" have been interconnected. So I am looking for more information about the naming scheme beyond what was already surfaced here. It might not exist though.
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 15:21

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