Frank Herbert is well known for playing word games with character names in all of his works. ("Irulan" and "Noah Arkwright" are two of my favorite examples (from this Q)

Noah Arkwright is kind of obvious.

But what was the word play in "Irulan"? (aside from her mother's name being Anirul, which I guess whasn't what OP referred to?)

  • I tried googling but only got Wikipedia (nothing I could find on the name) and a bunch of baby naming sites. Mar 20, 2015 at 23:01
  • 1
    Baby naming sites? People are naming their daughters after Irulan?!
    – user1027
    Mar 20, 2015 at 23:15
  • @Keen - I think it's quite a nice name
    – Valorum
    Mar 20, 2015 at 23:23
  • 1
    6 x Ghanima's a year vs 17 Irulans
    – Valorum
    Mar 20, 2015 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


Her name is an anagram of RUINAL, as Ghanima points out in Children of Dune

“The fact that I remember the expression and you’ve never even heard it before should give you pause,” Ghanima said. “It was an old expression of scorn when you Bene Gesserit were young. But if that doesn’t chasten you, ask yourself what your royal parents could’ve been thinking of when they named you Irulan? Or is it Ruinal?”

In spite of her training, Irulan flushed. “You’re trying to goad me, Ghanima.”

“And you tried to use Voice on me. On me! I remember the first human efforts in that direction. I remember then, Ruinous Irulan. Now, get out of here, all of you.”


It's an anagram of Urinal, which is probably not something you'd want to call your daughter.

  • 4
    That may be true, but I don't think that was what Frank Herbert was driving at :-)
    – Valorum
    Mar 20, 2015 at 23:23
  • 4
    @Richard That's purely speculative. How do you know Frank Herbert's intentions?
    – KSmarts
    Mar 21, 2015 at 4:00
  • 6
    Surely this answer is just taking the piss.
    – user31178
    Mar 21, 2015 at 6:11

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