I know initially it seems like only George R. R. Martin or a magician can answer my question.

What am I asking actually is, are the names and surnames used in the books real? Are "Theon" and "Tywin" real names that people use in some country? Are there real family names like Lannister or Stark?

Since Westeros seems a lot like medieval Europe, it seems to me that names for people and places should be more Germanic than Italian. Am I right?

  • 10
    ASOIAF is supposedly inspired by medieval England and the War of the Roses (houses Lancaster (Lannister) vs York (Stark)). The Wall is also inspired by Hadrian's wall in northern England.
    – TLP
    Jun 23, 2013 at 23:18
  • 1
    There's an interview somewhere where GRRM discusses First Men names versus Andal names and his influences for them, but I can't locate it at the moment. Several names are clearly slightly remixed west-European, however (Eddard = Edward, Joffrey = Geoffrey, etc).
    – user8719
    Jun 23, 2013 at 23:38
  • "Umber" presumably comes from "Northumberland", which occupies the same geographical position in England as Last Hearth does in Westeros. Jun 24, 2013 at 1:45
  • In book form, "Umber" (particularly the Greatjon) always reminded me of "Umber hulk"...
    – Ash
    Jun 24, 2013 at 13:34
  • 6
    Stark is definitely a real name. Don't you know Tony ?
    – Kalissar
    Jun 24, 2013 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


The only source I could find about how George names his characters is this. Relevant part quoted below:

Coming up with the names for the characters is very tough. They can't be too weird (with like apostrophies and stuff) and they can't be too "real", like Francois or Patrick or any kind of a name that is tied to a place (Sandor being a Hungarian name was unintentional)

  • 3
    Names are important. I had to abandon an attempt to read the Thomas Covenant books mainly because I couldn't get past the absurd-seeming Lord High Kevin. Jun 25, 2013 at 10:19
  • 8
    @TheMathemagician What's so absurd about me?
    – Kevin
    Jul 4, 2013 at 20:39
  • There are a lot of obvious names like Jamie, Robb, Jon, so at least around Winterfell names are (pretty close to) names I can vouch for their existance. :-) However I would also like to know about the southerner names. Doesn't any SE reader live in a place where similar sounding names exist? Aug 12, 2013 at 11:40

GRRM has answered this question himself when asked it in an interview alongside Robin Hobb.

The following is a summary from the interview as given by @Möoz on a related answer:

  • He dislikes most Fantasy names (e.g. Riznakh)
  • He has tried many methods of name creation
    • Including those funny online name generators
    • Baby name books
  • He wants his names to be meaningful
  • He wants his names to "fit" and "sound right"
    • This can be based on whether the person is "important" or not, ethnicity / exoticness within the story, etc
  • He bases his names on existing or historical figures, but usually gives them a slight twist so as to sound realistic and relatable
    • John becomes Jon, Edward becomes Eddard, etc.
  • 1
    Considering you’ve effectively copy pasted. You should really have VTC’d as a dupe.
    – Edlothiad
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:19
  • @Edlothiad To be honest I didn't think of dupeing it, will do now though.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:20

The name Stark means strength. If you are wondering Stark is an old and important family in the United States. Look at Vermont, Brigadier General Stark of American Revolutionary war as well as Aaron Stark of Connecticut.

  • Eric John Stark
    – user14111
    May 8, 2014 at 23:07
  • 1
    Tony Stark May 9, 2014 at 19:18
  • Thanks, I did not know about name, meaning and real people. By the way even the photo of General Stark shows that he were a tough general.
    – TIKSN
    May 9, 2014 at 22:03
  • In German the adjective "stark" means strong or powerful.
    – Trollwut
    May 26, 2014 at 0:52

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