Classic Names with a Twist from Game of Thrones

Guest blogger Aislinn Nicole is a fan of both baby names and George R. R. Martin‘s epic Game of Thrones series.  Here, she combines enthusiasms and helps us navigate the names of the new season.

The people of George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire (adapted by HBO to become the TV series Game of Thrones) are very much like the people of our world.  Martin’s characters are vivid and real, and their names are an extension of that, including interesting similarities and alternatives to several classic names.

There’s the simple and lovely Jeyne, pronounced just like JaneTywin and Tyrion are similar to Tyler, while Edmure and Eddard sound much like our Edmund and EdwardMarcella was my grandmother’s name, so Myrcella holds a particular fondness for me.  There are a dozen other examples in the series… and some names you’ll never have heard before, that are equally lovely.

Game of Thrones is about a continent (Westeros) of feuding noble families, all vying to control the Iron Throne.   At the beginning of the series, the Iron Throne is held by King Robert Baratheon, who requests the aid of his childhood friend Eddard Stark to help him keep the Iron Throne which he won by defeating House Targaryen.  Below, the noble houses are listed with the main characters included as well as some characters with more interesting names. Note: some of the characters listed don’t appear (or become important) until later in the series, but they are simply too good to exclude.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Game of Thrones, the series’ first season came out on DVD March 6th, and the second season began on HBO on April 1st.  For the real experience though, I’d recommend the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, whose first book is called A Game of Thrones.

House Baratheon (unless noted otherwise, all characters in each list carry the noble house’s name as their surname)

King Robert – a milder version of Henry VIII

Queen Cersei Lannister – Robert’s beautiful, vain and scheming wife

Joffrey – the crown prince and spoiled heir to the throne

Myrcella – the only princess

StannisRobert’s hard, unyielding brother

RenlyRobert’s handsome, favored brother

House Stark

Eddard (Ned) – the series’ protagonist, a moral and just man to a fault

Catelyn TullyNed’s strong and loyal wife

Robb – the oldest son, a young but brave warrior

Sansa – the eldest daughter, pretty and whimsical

Arya – the youngest daughter, clever and determined to never be a lady

Bran – the second son, dealt a difficult hand by fate

Jon SnowNed’s illegitimate son

BenjenNed’s younger brother

LyannaNed’s long dead sister, once betrothed to Robert Baratheon

Jeyne Poole – Sansa’s girlhood friend

House Lannister

Jaime – Cersei’s twin brother

Tyrion – Cersei’s younger brother, a clever and devious dwarf

Tywin – Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion’s father

Kevan – Tywin’s younger brother

House Targaryen

Rhaegar – the deceased crown prince of deposed House Targaryen

Viserys – the last remaining male heir of House Targaryen

Daenerys (Dany) – the last princess of House Targaryen, she is the female protagonist

House Tully

EdmureCatelyn’s brother and heir to House Tully

LysaCatelyn’s younger sister

BryndenLysa and Catelyn’s uncle

House Greyjoy

Balon – the lord of House Greyjoy

Theon– a ward of House Stark, he is Balon’s only living son

Asha/YaraTheon’s sister (the name Yara is used in the TV show to prevent confusion with another character)

Victarion Theon and Asha’s uncle

House Tyrell

Mace – the lord of House Tyrell

Loras – the Knight of Flowers, and youngest son

MargaeryMace’s only daughter, lovely and smart

Olenna Redwyne Mace’s mother, called the Queen of Thorns

Brienne of Tarth – a brave female soldier who fights in armor like a knight

House Martell

DoranPrince of Dorne and Lord of House Martell

ArianneDoran’s oldest child and heir (in Dorne firstborns inherit regardless of gender!)

QuentynDoran’s oldest son

EliaDoran’s sister. Once married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, she was killed in the war

Other Characters

Jorah Mormont – a disgraced knight who aids Daenerys Targaryen

Meera Reed – a daughter of Howland Reed, a bannerman of Eddard Stark

Melisandre of Asshai – a sorceress who aids Stannis Baratheon

Aislinn Nicole is a graduate of Washburn University and plans to return to school next fall.  As a student of history and anthropology, Aislinn hopes to one day pursue either a career as an archaeologist or a historical writer.  Her nom de plume,  Aislinn Nicole, was born out of a love of Celtic history (Aislinn) and jealousy over a cousin’s awesome name (Nicole).

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21 Responses to “Classic Names with a Twist from Game of Thrones”

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Poppy528 Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 12:08 am

Wow I have been waiting for this blog topic for a while! So happy. Really loved it, guys. Arya is actually a top middlename contender should we be blessed with a girl someday (she’s hubby’s favorite character, and I like that it means lion in Hebrew). Jorah is really great and usable, I think.

bex.marie Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 1:00 am

Love the books and show. Always thought the names were so interesting and glad to see it’s finally made its way onto Nameberry! So many I like and choose from, I’m not sure where to start. I love Daenerys, but worry about a daughter being bothered by always having to pronounce it or correct peoples’ spelling of it. I love Arya, Lyanna and Elia too. And boy names, I like Rhaegar, Renly, Aemon (another character not shown) and Rickon (not shown, but is Eddard’s youngest child and son). Jorah, I also like. I could probably keep going, but I’ll stop there. 🙂

evergreen Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 1:13 am

As a name nerd and a fan of GOT I have hoped for a blog on this too 🙂

My faves from the series are:

Cersei – I think this is so beautiful.

helloheidi Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 1:37 am

Ooh, this post makes me very happy!

My favorites are..

Gendry (but he isn’t on the list!)

Lola Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 9:39 am

Count me a fan, too! 😀 Love all of Martin’s stories, though; not just GoT. My favorite characters are (in no particular order):

Love the series to pieces, I’m re-reading all 5 right now. Already on book 2: A Clash of Kings

I keep wondering why HBO called the series “Game of Thrones” wouldn’t that confuse some who know that’s just the title of the first book?
Don’t know. I just hope the series lasts through all the books! 😀

BritishAmerican Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 10:03 am

I’ve never heard of this series.

The name that jumped out to me is Benjen. Because I’m Jennie and my husband is Ben. Is it pronounced more like Benjun? Rather than Ben-Jen? Not really my thing either way, but interesting!

TinaBina Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 10:21 am

House of Martel has several of my faves, and I’ve never seen the show!

logansmom Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 12:17 pm

You left out Tommen of House Baratheon. I think it’s a great name!

LadyCap Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I almost suggested Eddard as a name in the forums the other day (someone was looking for a name that could have the nickname “Ned”), but didn’t want to have to explain Westeros.

Admittedly when I began reading the books, I was irritated with the mixture of familiar names (Robert, Brandon, Jon, Jaime) with names that were one letter off from normal names (Joffrey instead of Jeffrey, Eddard instead of Edward, Catelyn–pronounced “cat-ah-lynn”– instead of Caitlin) because the latter group felt like they were names that were trying too hard. The names and the characters, of course grew on me. However, despite my love for the characters and the names, I feel like a lot of them wouldn’t translate well into real life (though I’m totally going to have a dog named Tyrion someday). Still, the series is a great place to go name hunting because there are so many names and styles of names to choose from. I’m so glad there’s a post about it now!

auroradawn Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I haven’t read the books or seen the show (now they’ll have to go on my “someday” reading/viewing list), but the names intrigue me. As ladycap says, my first reaction when I read this post was a mild irritation with the names that are “not quite right”–Eddard, Joffrey, Margaery, Brynden–but then I started thinking of the fascinating parallels that exist in our own world between different languages’ forms of the same name. If you create a different world and suppose the languages evolved similarly to our own, mightn’t names like this be exactly what would happen? I like Eddard, Jorah, Asha and Meera best on reading the list over, and Bran (a “real name”) is a big guilty pleasure of mine.

darla v Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I love Dany’s title “Khaleesi.” It’s very usable. You could spell it Calisie and use “Callie” for a nickname.

yellow Says:

April 3rd, 2012 at 6:51 pm

For the first few episodes of the first season, I could’ve SWORN they were saying Aya instead of Arya. It went on long enough to make me fall in love with Aya.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I figured out it was Arya, as it is essentially a misspell of Aria which happens to be one of my pet-peeve names itself. Ha.

Just goes to show how much an accent can change a name…

bex.marie Says:

April 4th, 2012 at 12:13 am

Darla v, I agree!! Khaleesi would be a great name! Spelled like in the books or Calisie. I like Khalli/Callie or Leesi/Lisie as nicknames! I’m seriously considering this for a future daughter. 🙂

Samantha-Bianca Says:

April 5th, 2012 at 9:04 am

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks Khaleesi is very usable!

capturedcastle Says:

May 18th, 2012 at 11:43 am

What about the direwolves? Summer and…Nymeria =) I’ve loved Catelyn and Margaery since the books, and Khaleesi is a sweet name. For boys, Jaime is actually at the top of my list right now.

And finally, my grandpa’s name is Lowell and that means “little wolf”!! I love it for either gender, but ESPECIALLY for a girl. Love love love it. The name Arya is actually kind of boring to me although my husband and I both love the character(and I’m a musician!) but I’d totally name a girl Lowell.

niteowl13 Says:

May 21st, 2012 at 11:44 am

Love these names! I am reading the books right now and can’t put it down! Well, I can put it down long enough for my other obsession – Nameberry! Haha
I don’t understand why Asha is renamed in the show. Who could she be confused with?
Maybe I’m not far enough along in the books…
My favorite name on the list is Brienne, since I love all Bree names, but they are too popular. I heard the name Brien at work once and have loved the name ever since.

ellieberry Says:

May 29th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I think Sansa deserves it’s own link!

jayrave Says:

June 10th, 2012 at 9:58 am

niteowl13, I think the writers of the show were worried viewers would confuse Asha with Bran’s wildling friend Osha – although they address Osha by her name so rarely in the show, I’m not sure there would have been much confusion. Now that I’m reading the books, however, I feel Yara is more fitting – it’s got a punch to it that Asha doesn’t, and that the character so obviously embodies.

Loving the creativity here, and so glad to find I’m not the only one who would use these in real life! I think Jorah is my favorite, and I’m thrilled to see people nominating Khaleesi. My favorite character is Tyrion, and while I wouldn’t use that on an actual child, i think Peter (NOT Petyr) is a fantastic alternative in that it pays homage to the outstanding Peter Dinklage and, by association, the incomparable Tyrion Lannister.

On that note – Lannister itself would make an awesome boy’s name.

brynchelsea Says:

June 13th, 2012 at 1:19 am

The Starks have a third boy Rickard,Rickon or something similar. I subconsiously used Theon in the book I’m writing. I tried so hard to not use names from current pop-culture stories. I love Dany, Tyrion, Jon, and Drogo. I love those names.

aevery Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I love GoT!!!! Thanks for blogging this.

My faves are:


I just LOVE Rhaegar, but it isn’t associated in the series with anything nice….

venanzii22 Says:

May 23rd, 2013 at 10:12 am

I just found this site because I was doing a search for posts about the names on Game of Thrones. They’re really interesting, especially the misspellings, Eddard, Joffrey, etc., which are slight enough to remind us that this tale takes place in another world.

Anyway, as a big fan of the books, I just want to say that they are full of characters who start out as generally good and end up bad, and vice versa. And some are just downright evil, and probably will finish that way. Cersei is a cool name but would you name your child after the most evil woman in a popular book/TV series? And who knows what will happen in the final two books, which are not yet published. A cute kid with a cute name like Tommen could turn out to be worse than his evil brother Joffrey. Daenerys is a fan-favorite now, but who knows what she will do? Just something to consider… if names like Thomas or Danielle are for some reason too plain for you…

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