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Hunger Game Names: Inventions and Reinventions

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This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel leads us through the world of The Hunger Games, introducing us to its population of fantastically named characters.

Even if you haven’t read the books, you’ve probably heard of The Hunger Games.  The trilogy has topped the bestseller lists, and buzz about the upcoming movie adaptation has been constant for the past few months.

It is the tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who overthrows a cruel and despotic government. Katniss Everdeen becomes the unlikely heroine after she is chosen to fight to the death in a televised game controlled by the all-powerful Capitol.  It’s part Greek myth, part reality TV.

Author Suzanne Collins is quite the storyteller, and she’s a masterful namer of characters.  Katniss sounds like a smoosh of classics like Katherine and Frances, but the name is borrowed from an edible aquatic plant.  Sagittaria, the plant’s Latin name, comes from its arrow-shaped leaves.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Katniss saves the day through her extraordinary skill with a bow and arrow.

Even if you’re not into sci fi, the series is worth a read for the names alone.  In Collins’ post-apocalyptic future, some familiar choices have endured, while other names have been sourced from the past.  Many are new, drawn from the changed world in which her characters live.  Each of the outlying Districts has a certain specific style. 

This list includes minor characters and villains, and they range from the perfectly wearable to the truly out-there.

FELLOW CONTESTANTS & PAST CHAMPIONS

Brutus

Cato – A willing contestant, from wealthy District 2.  In the more affluent Districts, children often train for the Games, hoping for a chance to win riches and glory.

Cashmere

Cecilia

Clove

Gloss

 Glimmer

Marvel – Like many of the District 1 and 2 names, less wearable than other options in the trilogy.

 Rue – Among the youngest contestants, and an ally to Katniss during the Games.  She proves surprisingly resourceful.

 REBELS & REFUGEES

 Alma

 Annie – A past champion, and Finnick’s true love.

 Bonnie – A refugee, she first suggests to Katniss that the rebellion is real.

 Cressida – A filmmaker turned rebel.  She was born in the Capitol, where names from Ancient Greece and Rome appear to be all the rage.

 Finnick – A trident-wielding past champion and rebel leader. Johanna

 Lavinia

 Mags – One of two diminutives for Margaret used in the series.

 Plutarch – He once helped create the Games, but eventually brings his skills to help overthrow the Capitol.

 FROM THE CAPITOL

 Caesar – The Capitol’s answer to Ryan Seacrest.  He interviews contestants and champions, and narrates the Games.

 Cinna – The designer who makes costumes for Katniss, and proves to be an important part of shaping her role as rebel leader.

 Effie

 Flavius – Once Katniss became a contestant, she was assigned a team of handlers, including stylist Flavius.

 Octavia

 Portia

 Seneca

 Venia – Along with Octavia and Flavius, she joins the rebellion.  It’s a truly clever name.  Venality – taking bribes – is a vice, but a venial sin is forgivable.  Over the course of the series, Katniss recognizes that many of the Capitol’s residents deserve forgiveness, even if they’ve enjoyed their privileged status.

 KATNISS’ HOME TOWN: DISTRICT 12

 DariusA good-natured peacekeeper, sent by the Capitol to enforce their rule in District 12.

Delly – A mix of Kelly and Dolly worn by a kind-hearted classmate of Katniss and Peeta.

GaleThe eldest of the Hawthorne children.  He and Katniss are close friends and hunting partners when the story begins.

Hazelle – Matriarch of the Hawthorne family.  Like many from District 12, she has a nature name.

MadgeFriend to Katniss, and further evidence that traditional names survive.

MaysileeMadge’s aunt, and a past contestant.

Peeta – The baker’s son, he and Katniss are chosen to represent District 12 in the 74th Hunger Games.  Their apparent romance helps keep them both alive.

PosyGale’s little sister, the youngest of the Hawthorne family.

Primrose – Called Prim, she is Katniss beloved little sister.  It was Prim who was originally chosen as a contestant, until Katniss volunteered in her place.

RoryLittle brother to Gale.

VickLittle brother to Gale, and an interesting mix of Victor and Nick.

Thanks to Twilight, we’ve seen a few babies called Renesmee in recent years, and the Harry Potter series inspired parents to chose names like Luna and Draco, too.  Would you use a Hunger Games name?

And thanks, Abby, for a great blog!

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