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Questions tagged [etymology]

Study of the origin and history of words; looks at how spellings, pronunciations and meanings may have changed over time.

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Origin of the name Galbatorix

King Galbatorix is the main antagonist of Inhertiance cycle, the high fantasy series written by Christopher Paolini. Was his name entirely made up by the author or does it have roots from real-world ...
Влад Артюх's user avatar
56 votes
1 answer
10k views

Why is Sauron's name similar to the Greek/Latin word for "lizard"?

The name Sauron is spelled like, and sounds very similar to the Greek word σαῦρος, or the corresponding Latin word saurus, which means lizard. Is this just a coincidence, or is there a (known or ...
Enlico's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why choose the name "Morpheus" when it is the name of the Greek god of dreams

Why did the writers of The Matrix choose to call the awakener of Neo by the name "Morpheus"? A priori that is a random question, but the question becomes more pertinent after appreciating that ...
5th decile's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
180 views

Who decided the names for the other two parts of the original A Memory of Light?

In the foreword to The Gathering Storm, Sanderson mentions that he was contacted to write the final three books for the Wheel of Time series, which were at the time still part of A Memory of Light. ...
Sam's user avatar
  • 43
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where does the name Ori come from?

What is the origin of the name Ori? There are suggestions that the name Ori may come from the Origin, however, I have not found any proof to support that. Their name may have some meaning, and given ...
Edmund Dantes's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
5k views

What does the word 'Horcrux' mean?

In the Potterverse, the names of characters, objects and places often have a fascinating meaning and can reveal a lot about their attributes or characteristic. As for the names of the spells, they ...
user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

Is the name "Rohirrim" based on "Houyhnhnm"?

Houyhnhnm - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Rohirrim - The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien I have been reading Jonathan Swift's excellent Gulliver's Travels, and one of the many strange ...
jean's user avatar
  • 360
14 votes
1 answer
3k views

Doctor Who, old vs new, season vs series: why?

It has become common practice in discussions of the 1963-1989 and present incarnations of Doctor Who to refer to the annual broadcast cycles of the former show as "seasons", the latter as "series"; ...
Politank-Z's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
142 views

Batman or 'the Batman'? [duplicate]

Batman has tended to introduce himself as simply 'Batman', e.g. In the Keaton movie we had the line "Who are you?!" "I'm Batman" However he is also referred to as 'the Batman'. Is there any rhyme or ...
Peter's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Does “thrull” as in the name of the Magic: the Gathering creature type etymologically come from “thrall”?

Does “thrull” as in the name of the Magic: the Gathering creature type etymologically come from “thrall”? If not, then where does the word come from? Does the word appear in earlier fantasy fiction?
b_jonas's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
1k views

First appearance of the word Sith

Etymology would be nice but mostly I'd like to know where this word was first used, be it film or novel. I'm thinking at least the meaning is an invention of Star Wars universe if not the word itself....
candied_orange's user avatar
27 votes
4 answers
5k views

What's the history of the term "starship"?

Context: I rewatched Star Wars: A New Hope in preparation for the impending release of The Force Awakens, and was struck by this, in the opening crawl: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away... [...
ThePopMachine's user avatar
22 votes
1 answer
16k views

What is the origin of the name "Jedi"?

Where does the name "Jedi" originate, either in or out of universe? Is there any in-universe evidence at all for the origin of the word? Out of universe, how did George Lucas come up with the name "...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is there any connection between Mace from Caravan of Courage and Mace Windu?

While watching the first Star Wars Ewok movie; Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure I noticed that one of the main characters was called Mace. This of course made me think of Mace Windu from Episodes ...
Noosrep's user avatar
  • 1,693
21 votes
6 answers
16k views

What is the inspiration for Moff?

In Star Wars we have Moffs and Grand Moffs. They don't seem to fit with the nomenclature of the Imperial Navy (captain, general, admiral etc). Is the title Moff based on any real life rank or is it ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the etymology of Spock's name?

The title says it all really: What was the inspiration and/or origin for Spock's name? The only other Spock I know of is, of course, Dr Spock who wrote about children - was this at all an influence?
Often Right's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
18k views

Why did JK Rowling choose the name 'Hogwarts'? [duplicate]

A follow on from my previous question, I'm wondering, has JK Rowling ever commented on why she chose to name the school Hogwarts in particular?
Often Right's user avatar
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32 votes
1 answer
7k views

Etymology of 'Muggles'

The title says it all really: what is the etymology of JK Rowling's word 'Muggle'? I have read from the Harry Potter Wikia that: Muggle is derived from the word "mug," which refers to a gullible ...
Often Right's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
3k views

What is the origin of the term "first contact"?

This term has a long history in Star Trek: Star Trek: First Contact ST:TNG episode "First Contact" First Contact Day Also: Stargate: Atlantis episode "First Contact" Does this term originate in Star ...
ThePopMachine's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
3k views

Etymology of 'Westeros'

Westeros sounds similar to /west of us/. It also sounds like a relaxed pronunciation of west of Essos might sound. It seems plausible that Essosians might have first called the continent West of Essos,...
Hal's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is this the correct etymology of "Arrakis"?

I recently learned about the term arak, which refers to a type of Middle Eastern liquor infused with aniseed. According to the Wikipedia article, the drink is named after the Arabic word araq, ...
sigil's user avatar
  • 830
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

The etymology of the term "shiggy" in "Stand on Zanzibar"

In John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (1968), there is a slang term "shiggy," which refers to a transient woman who becomes a man's temporary romantic partner as a means to obtain shelter: That would ...
sigil's user avatar
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25 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is there any information on the (external) etymology of "Gandalf"?

It is well known that Tolkien was, first and foremost, a linguist. His familiarity with Germanic languages comes into play more than once- think of Beorn (similar to Norwegian bjørn "bear"). It ...
Adele- Nexus of Potlucks's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
991 views

The significance of the 'Star' in Star Wars?

I understand that Star Wars, like many outer-space sci-fi's includes a variety of planets and moons to set much of the space action around: Space battle around Endor Space battle arround Yavin and ...
stay_frosty's user avatar
  • 1,113
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

How did Ursula K. Le Guin come up with the word "ansible"?

Legend says that Ursula K. Le Guin coined the word ansible as an anagram of lesbian in "Rocannon's World" (looong before Orson Scott Card). Is this known to be true (the anagram part)? [...
yrodro's user avatar
  • 3,477
17 votes
4 answers
2k views

Did Heinlein invent the term "boot-chevrons" or did an actual military use it?

In Starship Troopers the recruits that are given leadership positions in boot camp are said to be given boot chevrons. I've never seen the term used elsewhere until I read the Starship Trooper-esque A ...
Justin Dearing's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
11k views

What is "Kwatz!"?

In Fall of Hyperion, the Core AI Ummon periodically interjects his koans and oddly-formatted comments with [Kwatz!] What does this mean? Is it a made-up expletive? If so, why would a computer ...
Beofett's user avatar
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41 votes
4 answers
30k views

Why were Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters?

Why are Death-Eaters called Death-Eaters? What does their name mean?
roslav's user avatar
  • 696
3 votes
6 answers
5k views

What is the etymology of "xenomorph" in the context of the Aliens franchise?

I know it's first uttered in Cameron's Aliens (1986). Once. It's a word that seems was coined for the movie itself, but one constructed of well-known root words that seem to mean "alien-shaped". In ...
John O's user avatar
  • 17.3k
14 votes
4 answers
50k views

Is "TARDIS" an acronym or backronym?

The title pretty much says it all. I see in this article an in-universe explanation, but I'm thinking more out of universe, from an original writing and production point of view. Any Whovian can ...
eidylon's user avatar
  • 6,029
8 votes
2 answers
15k views

Etymology of the name Quinjet?

In the Marvel universes, the Avengers' jets are Quinjets. What's the etymology of this name? Does this refer to someone in the universe? Or a comic book creator?
user avatar
22 votes
5 answers
41k views

What do you call a winged unicorn?

I've heard a few ways of describing such a fantastical beast, but I don't know which is correct. They are known as both Alicorns (Ali supposedly from ala (wing) and Corn meaning horn), as well as ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
4k views

Is the fictional etymology of Uruk-Hai a reference to the Uriankhai?

By the early 17th century the term Uriankhai was a general Mongolian term for all the dispersed bands to the north-west, whether Samoyed, Turkic, or Mongolian in origin. I was wondering if there was ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
49 votes
7 answers
12k views

What is the etymology of Doctor Who?

I recently decided to watch Doctor Who, and started viewing the 2005 version. I have the first two episodes from the first season, and I can't help but wonder what is the etymology of the name "Doctor ...
apoorv020's user avatar
  • 16.5k
48 votes
16 answers
69k views

Etymology of the name, "Voldemort."

What is the etymology of the name Voldemort? He's the main antagonist character from the Harry Potter books.
Jolly's user avatar
  • 585
10 votes
3 answers
466 views

Origin of "a flower marriage?"

In Kate Elliot's Cold Magic, set in an alternate-history Earth, there are two kinds of marriage; the long-term sort we think of when we hear the term, and a temporary marriage called a "Flower ...
Asmor's user avatar
  • 3,344
32 votes
3 answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase "on the gripping hand?"

Where does the phrase "on the gripping hand" come from and what does it mean in the context of that work, The Gripping Hand? I'll add that I just finished reading The Mote in God's Eye and this is ...
Bill the Lizard's user avatar