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53 votes
Accepted

Why did Alexandre Dumas use Greek names for the three musketeers?

Dumas based The Three Musketeers very loosely on the fictionalized memoirs of Charles de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan (1611–1673), in which: Celui que j’accostai s’appelloit Portos, & étoit ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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37 votes

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

No, except yes TL;DR: ‘Wormtongue’ is a deliberately negative name given by his enemies, so it can’t be faulted for being pejorative, even if it’s not as unflattering as it might seem to modern ears. ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
37 votes
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Why does changing one's name to 'Vladimir' indicate allegiance to Moscow?

Voldemar is an Estonian name, the Estonian version of a name whose version in Russian and some other Slavic languages is Vladimir. Changing one's name from Voldemar to Vladimir would seem to be a way ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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33 votes
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What is the significance of Alec Bings's name in The Phantom Tollbooth?

It’s noted in The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth (which I highly recommend to any fan- it's a really lovely book) published by Knopf/Random House in 2011; on page 106, annotation 10 reads: “I’m ...
Juni's user avatar
  • 346
29 votes

Why is the UK called Airstrip One?

I'm pretty sure it's a satirical jab at the perceived takeover of Britain by the United States. Just as in real life the US has filled Britain with its airbases, in the world of 1984 the entire ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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23 votes
Accepted

Was there a reason Room 101 was called Room 101?

Room 101 is named after a conference room at Broadcasting House. Orwell used to sit through boring meetings there. When it was to be demolished at the BBC, Rachel Whiteread made a plaster cast and it ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
22 votes
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In 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman, why is one 'Jack' named for a historical person

"Jack Ketch" became a nickname for executioners in general. The hangman, any hangman, was called Jack Ketch centuries after the death of the original. See for example A Classical Dictionary ...
Pete's user avatar
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20 votes

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

Grima calls Gandalf "Lathspell" -- Ill News -- because he hated him and wanted Theoden to mistrust him. Likewise, "Wormtongue" is what people who already hate him call him. It is ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,055
19 votes
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Why is the snake named "Asmodeus"?

You might be overthinking it. According to Brian Jacques himself, it seems he didn't go into the depths of exactly what traits the mythological/biblical character Asmodeus represents; he just found it ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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17 votes

Symbolism of Albus Dumbledore's name in Harry Potter

Albus As you state, Albus translates to "white", which was a nod to alchemy: Colours also played their part in the naming of Hagrid and Dumbledore, whose first names are Rubeus (red) and ...
Skooba's user avatar
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16 votes
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What is a Pooh?

1) According to When We Were Very Young By A. A. Milne, Pooh was a swan that Christopher Robin named Pooh, so that if he didn't come Christopher could pretend he was just saying that he hadn't wanted ...
Lianne Caranthir's user avatar
16 votes
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Is this hypothesis about the significance of the name "Denna" in the Kingkiller Chronicle supported by the text?

Denner resin comes from the sap of denner trees, and addicts ('sweet-eaters') will go to great lengths to eat it. It usually turns their teeth white, as it does for a girl whom Kvothe sees dance naked ...
Parallax Sugar's user avatar
15 votes
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Why do peasants in 19th century Russian literature often have Greek names?

Firstly, why there are Greek names in Russia. Russia, being a Christian Orthodox country, had strong historical and cultural connections with Greece. So, many Russian names are of Greek origin. Most ...
DrTyrsa's user avatar
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14 votes
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Why did Bill Watterson choose the character names he did?

With regards to Calvin and Hobbes: Later, when Watterson was creating names for the characters in his comic strip, he decided upon Calvin (after the Protestant reformer John Calvin) and Hobbes (...
auden's user avatar
  • 4,792
14 votes

Why is the superstate Winston lives in named Oceania in 1984?

Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia are all named for their geographical features. The best description we have of the three superpowers and their geography comes from Chapter III (War is Peace) of ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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13 votes
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Symbolism of Albus Dumbledore's name in Harry Potter

The last name is actually not that fancy. As this old interview with Rowling states: How did you decide what to name your characters and places? I collect unusual names. I have notebooks full of them....
Helmar's user avatar
  • 1,031
12 votes

Meaning of President "Coin" in the Hunger Games books?

Warning: major spoilers follow. Coin ~ money There are a few ways in which the District 13 leader could be symbolised by the idea of money. Power. Money can be used to buy power, or as a ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
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Is the name Crowley in Good Omens a reference to the famous occultist?

I have not been able to source a quote from the author, but there is an interview which offers some circumstantial evidence that Crowley is indeed named after the famous occultist. Actor Mark Sheppard ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22.6k
11 votes

Why is Nausicaa named 'burner of ships'?

I'm going to attempt an answer with the caveats that the materialists often find my etymological ideas on names to be poetic as opposed to scientific, and that I'd want to know what Graves thought but ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
  • 4,253
11 votes
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Was Atticus's name meant to mean anything?

This analysis website claims that: In Latin, Atticus is an adjective meaning “belonging to Attica”, the region in which Athens is located, or more simply, “Athenian”. As a name, it had connotations ...
fi12's user avatar
  • 4,605
10 votes
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Where did the names Siegfried and Tristan Farnon come from?

Thanks to @rand-althor for finding the citation! This article, an interview with the author includes a brief explanation of the choices: Siegfried was taken from the heroic character of German ...
Will Crawford's user avatar
10 votes

Where did Stephen King get the word "Shawshank" from?

What ‘Shawshank’ suggests to me, is a surname from the Scottish Borders. The name is made up of two elements that are common in English and Scots surnames and placenames: ‘shaw’ meaning ‘covert’ or ‘...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 57.9k
9 votes
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Is there significance behind the name "Scout" from To Kill A Mockingbird?

Scout is her nickname, it is less symbolic than descriptive First of all, I could not find any actual words from the author/book. There is no "official" word of why, so I sought out the definition of ...
Matrim Cauthon's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Why do the names of the first two characters introduced in "The Neverending Story" start with B and C?

In the original, it's B and K, not B and C. You can see this in the German Wikipedia page (emphasis mine): Bastian Balthasar Bux ist ein zehn oder elf Jahre alter, in sich gekehrter Junge. Sein Vater ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
8 votes

Why is the superstate Winston lives in named Oceania in 1984?

I always assumed it was because it touched every single ocean in the world: Pacific (US), Atlantic (US), Indian (Australia), Southern/Antarctic (Australia), and Arctic Oceans (Canada). You can also ...
Gaurav's user avatar
  • 1,710
8 votes
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Why is Josef K.'s last name never revealed?

This answer is primarily based on Ignace Feuerlicht, "Omissions and Contradictions in Kafka's Trial", The German Quarterly 1967, 40(3), pp. 339-350 - available here if you have Jstor access. All ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.6k
8 votes

What does Narcissa Malfoy's name say about her character?

Spoilers involved! TL;DR at the bottom. In an interview (1,2,3), the author says the following about the name Narcissa (emphasis mine): queenmarion: I noticed in the Black Family tree that everyone ...
Beastly Gerbil's user avatar
8 votes

Why "Moon Child"?

The simplest explanation, in-universe so to speak, would be that you need a new unique name to see the Childlike Empress, and "Mondenkind" isn't really a word that existed before in the ...
Eike Pierstorff's user avatar
8 votes

What is the significance of Blackberry's name in Watership Down?

Blackberry had black tips to his ears. It is possible that, especially when he was a kit those tips reminded people of two blackberries. There may also be an aspect of being tenacious and difficult to ...
Spagirl's user avatar
  • 19.1k
7 votes

What kind of name is Vardaman?

There is a town named Vardaman in Mississippi, about 40 miles southeast of Oxford. Faulkner could have borrowed the name because he liked the sound of it. What's more likely, however, is that he used ...
Ralph Crown's user avatar
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