Is there a version of Snow White where her name is a longer description?

TVTropes says:

Snow White. Her real name is "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow" based on the wish her mother made. Everyone just calls her Snow White because it's easier. This is even carried over to the Disney version, but they replace "blood" with "the rose".

But at least this version doesn't sound like it:

a certain queen sat working at her window, the frame of which was made of fine black ebony; and, as she was looking out upon the snow, she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell upon it. Then she gazed thoughtfully down on the red drops which sprinkled the white snow and said, "Would that my little daughter may be as white as that snow, as red as the blood, and as black as the ebony window-frame!" And so the little girl grew up; her skin was a white as snow, her cheeks as rosy as blood, and her hair as black as ebony; and she was called Snow-White.

Although, that is just one of seven different translations... But a quick search isolate to that site shows nothing good...

  • Here is a German version which says much the same as the translation that you found, but I don't know if it's the original Grimm version or somehow modernised.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 24, 2021 at 5:17

2 Answers 2


Here’s the start of the story ‘Sneewittchen’ as given by the brothers Grimm:

Es war einmal mitten im Winter und die Schneeflocken fielen wie Federn vom Himmel, da saß eine schöne Königin an einem Fenster, das hatte einen Rahmen von schwarzem Edenholz, und nähte. Und wie sie so nähte und nach dem Schnee aufblickte, stach sie sich mit der Nadel in den Finger, und es fielen drei Tropfen Blut in den Schnee. Und weil das Rothe in dem Weißen so schön aussah, so dachte sie: hätt ich doch ein Kind so weiß wie Schnee, so roth wie Blut und so schwarz wie dieser Rahmen. Und bald darauf bekam sie ein Töchterlein, so weiß wie Schnee, so roth wie Blut, und so schwarz wie Ebenholz, und darum ward es das Sneewittchen genannt.

Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, when feathery snowflakes fell from the sky, a beautiful queen sat and sewed at a window, which had a frame of black ebony. And as she sewed and looked up at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle and three drops of blood fell onto the snow. And because the red looked so beautiful against the white, she thought: had I but a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as this frame! Soon afterwards she had a daughter, as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony, and so she was called Little-snow-white.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1812). Kinder- und Haus-märchen, p. 238. Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung.

This is the oldest printed version of the story, and here, it is clear that although the queen’s daughter has all three attributes from her mother’s wish, her name is just “Sneewittchen”.

In the Disney animated film (1937) there is a scene with the following dialogue:

Queen: Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?

Magic Mirror: Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.

Queen: Alas for her! Reveal her name!

Magic Mirror: Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow.

Queen: Snow White!

You can see how someone might interpret the highlighted line as the mirror revealing Snow-white’s real name. But I think a more natural interpretation is that the mirror is giving the queen a (not very difficult) riddle, in the usual manner of oracles.

Another version of the story that that uses all three of Snow-white’s attributes as a kind of epithet, is a 1982 retelling by Nancy Garden:

“Nothing can save you now, my beauty,” chortled the queen, “for I have used my strongest poison this time, and since you have swallowed it, you will never rise again. So, Skin-White-as-Snow, Lips-Red-as-Blood, Hair-Black-as-Ebony, what good is your beauty to you now? This time no one will ever be able to wake you up again.”

Nancy Garden (1982). Favourite Tales from Grimm, p. 15. New York: Four Winds.

Again, you can see how a reader of this passage in Garden’s version might conclude that “Skin-White-as-Snow, Lips-Red-as-Blood, Hair-Black-as-Ebony” is Snow-white’s real or unabbreviated name. This is an appealing kind of fairy-tale idea! But elsewhere in Garden’s version she is just called “Snow White”, so it makes as much, or more, sense to take the queen’s phrase here to be a sarcastic epithet that she made up on the spot.

  • If she's pricked herself with a needle, she might be referring to her embroidery frame. (Which is more likely to be ebony than a window frame) Oct 24, 2021 at 19:09
  • +1 for quoting the correct "magic mirror" incantation.
    – J.G.
    Oct 24, 2021 at 21:32
  • My favorite detail from the 1812 version is how the poisoned apple is dislodged from Snow White's throat. After the dwarfs consent to give up her inert body, the creepy prince travels with it everywhere and even has the body carted from room to room of the palace so that he can gaze upon it continually. One day, the servants are so disgusted at having to tote the crystal coffin everywhere that they take out the body, stand it up, and yell abuse at it. One servant clouts Snow White on the back of the head, the apple pops out, and she is returned to life. Grimm, baby. Oct 28, 2021 at 14:05

There are uses of the name "Snow White" in longer names, such as the Italian Snow-White-Fire-Red, or the Norwegian Snow-white and Rosy-red (in The Twelve Wild Ducks). However, the first is a variant on the girl helps the hero flee, with elements of the maiden in the tower (like Rapunzel) and the second is the brothers as birds; they are not Snow White variants.

Indeed, a look at the variants reveals none where it's longer than Snow-White but many where it's something unrelated: Myrsina, or Nourie Hadig, or Gold-Tree.

I think that's just someone slipping in a claim made about it and perhaps not even realizing it.

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.