In the opening of Cressida Cowell's "How to Train Your Dragon", Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III makes some effort to explain his name;

My name's Hiccup. Great name, I know. But it's not the worst. Parents believe a hideous name will frighten off gnomes and trolls. Like our charming Viking demeanor wouldn't do that.

Which is fine, except that his is not a hideous name, it's actually quite a funny name.

Do we ever get a better explanation (in any of the films/tv/books) of why his parents chose the name Hiccup?

  • 1
    As you name the author, I presume you are looking for an answer from the books and not the almost entirely unrelated movies and TV show. Correct?
    – Politank-Z
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:17
  • The associated wiki suggests it is a family name.
    – TZHX
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:21
  • @Politank-Z - A complete answer might mention both, especially if there are differing explanations in each.
    – Valorum
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:27
  • The word hiccup itself is perhaps not so hideous, but if you imagine the sound of a proper diaphragm hiccup getting the better of you, that’s a fairly hideous thing to call your newborn, I’d say… Aug 7, 2015 at 20:01
  • 5
    I actually interpreted Hiccup's comment a bit differently. I thought Hiccup was trying to say his name was not the worst because it is NOT hideous. That it is something of a joke because nobody would think he could frighten anyone/anything, so why give him a hideous name. From Hiccup's POV, he thinks that is okay because unlike his fellow Vikings he doesn't want a hideous name.
    – beichst
    Aug 8, 2015 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


Because he's small and runty.

The following quote from the animated series Dragons: Riders of Berk is the most canonical proof I've found:

Hiccup: I mean, think about it. Even my name! You know, it's Viking tradition to call the runt of the litter a hiccup.

(Random guy in the background calling a sheep): Come on, little hiccup.
(It turns out to be rather tiny)

(The same guy, towards Hiccup): Oh! Hey, Hiccup.
-- From the episode The Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man.

The Wikia here also backs this up:

Hiccup seems to have gotten his name from the fact that he was born early, so he was smaller and weaker than the other babies.

Re the quote you give: yes, it could suggest that he got the name because people thought it was "hideous", but I agree with @beichst's interpretation: he means that other kids get hideous names because their parents believe it will frighten off gnomes and trolls, but his parents didn't bother because he wasn't very fearsome anyway.

Out of canon, you may also be interested in this rather badly written fanfic entitled "The Reason for his Name", which gives another possible reason.

  • 1
    It's a pretty scarring name to give a child... You're a hiccup in my life son. He's destined to grow up with serious self esteem issues!
    – Daft
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:07
  • 1
    The Quora (animated series) quote is an absolute clincher. I would suggest moving it to the top of your answer and maybe deleting the rest.
    – Valorum
    Sep 30, 2015 at 10:03
  • @Richard Right, OK. I wasn't sure how canonical the animated series is; I'm not too familiar with HtTYD.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 30, 2015 at 11:47

My interpretation of the name “Hiccup” and why it was used in the films “how to train your dragon” 1 and 2 has a bit of a different take. One definition of hiccup is “a temporary minor difficulty or setback”. In some ways this defines the young character in the movie. He is a minor difficulty to his people for he is not like them, he is not strong and he does not possess the mind of a Viking. He is a minor setback to his father who is disappointed and overly concerned with his son for his actions. Another key word in the definition of hiccup is “temporary”. At the end of the first movie and all through out the second we see that the character hiccup was not difficult for his father or his people. I believe the word temporary in the definition of his name potentially foreshadows the idea that hiccup will not be a problem or setback in the future, only temporarily.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.