Dear Emily, the next time I blithely promise you a list of unique names that “wraps around the earth”, kindly remind me that this is not, in fact, very much of an exaggeration. This started as a text or ten…then it turned into a monster and got away from me. 😉
Science fiction and fantasy names: those unique, exotic, out-of-this-world handles. What’s a writer to do if they don’t have fifty years to develop their own languages a la J.R.R. Tolkien?
You could make up your names….
Murae—um, not bad.
Quenneth—there’s only thing to be said: don’t kill me, I was 12.
Aithon–not too bad.
Ecan—something that sounds good at 2 am and terrible at noon.
Yatsuur–at least it sounds alien…
You could hijack ordinary names and words and change a letter or add a punctuation mark (by far the most popular letter and mark are Y and an apostrophe)…
Erig– from Eric
Cosa–from C.O.T.A., certified occupational therapy assistant
Avani–based off a mispronunciation of the very pretty Indian name “Avni”.
About a million variations of Kaley, Helen, Mary, Lyn or Anne…
You could take a common name like Sam or Cass and make it the shortened version of a grand-sounding made up name…
“Chip”, Chipiparo (That’s mine. From age 11. I swear my tastes have improved!)
“Ann”, Derannon—not really making my case…
You could randomly hit your keyboard and pronounce the resulting “name” as an ordinary American name or word…
Tuiwge, “Twig” (This one took some squinting and tweaking!)
Ruilean, “Ryan” (The L is silent, don’tcha know?)
You could watch the credits of movies, with a notepad and the remote or scour the index pages of plant books…
Adai–from somewhere I don’t even remember
Aisling–from The Clinic
Kilik–from a producer on Catching Fire
You could flip open The Old Testament and pull names from the extensive genelogies…
You could name everybody common nouns and imply that the names have already been translated into the reader’s native language…
Or you could go to a site like Behind the Name and set the filters however strikes your fancy. Turkish and Welsh are my go-to languages: Turkish because they remind me of when I was a little girl in Turkey; Welsh ’cause it’s cool.
Then you can play with the spelling or swap genders to your heart’s content.
Seriously now, here’s a list of my favorite “sci-fi/fantasy” names that sound out of this world but really aren’t…
Laryn (f, modern American variation of Lauren)
Clio (f, Latinized Greek) “glory”
Zora (f, Slavic) “dawn”
Miren (f, Basque) “bitter”, from Mara/Mary
Aisha (f, Arabic) “alive”
Avi (m, Hebrew) “my father”, contraction of Avraham
Soren (m, Germanic) “stern”
Stien (m, Norse) “wanderer”
Hagon (m, Germanic) “high son”
Ansgar (m, Germanic) “god-spear”
Aydin (m, Turkish) “enlightened”
Eren (m, Turkish) “holy person”
Erol (m, Turkish) “brave”
Ithran (m, Hebrew)
Ephraim (m, Hebrew)
Evren (m and f, Turkish) “cosmos”
Aylin, Ayla, Tulin (f, Turkish) “moon halo”
Ayrin (modern variation of “Erin”)
Senka (f, Serbian) “shadow”
Isra (f, Arabic) “journey by night”
Zayne (m or f)
Jinan (f, Turkish) “garden”
Lynnea (f, variation of Lynn)
Shatona (f, Native American)
Alina (f, Arabic, French)
Avni (f, Indian) “the earth”
Nahtan (m, Nathan reversed, The Poisonwood Bible)
Zhaigo (m, based off our Chinese visitor’s pronunciation of “Chicago”)
Iskander (m, Turkish version of Alexander)
Evander (m, Greek)
And my all-time favorite: Alyn, pulled from Alina, an Arabic feminine name meaning “noble”, and Alina, a Germanic contraction of Adelina (also meaning “noble”), and Alan–one of meaning of which is “noble”–and a WelchAllyn vital sign machine at work, which serves a very noble purpose. Therefore I declare that Alyn means “noble”. I can do that. I’m the author.