Joss Whedon’s World of Names

posted by: names4real View all posts by this author

By Sarah Douglas of  Names4real.

What would our significant others name our children if we left it totally up to them?  Well, according to this blog on Nameberry, Joss (born Joseph Hill) Whedon is a big inspiration.

And no wonder.  When perusing his shows, the character names range from the classics to the bold.

Here’s a list of some of the most interesting character names and which show they were featured on.


Angel:  A vampire with a soul; at least on most episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her spinoff show, Angel Angel’s real name (pre-vampirism) was Liam. His vampire without a soul name is Angelus.

ConnorAngel and Darla’s son.  Yes, apparently vampires can reproduce.

Cordelia:  The spoiled cheerleader Cordelia Chase on Buffy became a main character when she followed Angel to Los Angeles.  Cordelia is played by the interesting named Charisma Carpenter.



Gunn:  Actually Charles Gunn, but he goes by his last name.


IllyriaFred in blue, i.e. an ancient demon that possessed Fred’s body after she died.

Lindsay (boy)





Buffy:  If cool, tough vampire slayer Buffy Summers couldn’t bring back this old-fashioned nickname, it may be gone for good.





SpikeDon’t try this one at home.  Spike’s real name was William.

Willow:  If there’s a Whedon success story when it comes to names, Willow would be the star. The TV show debuted in 1997 and Willow entered the chart for the first time at #853. She is now at her highest at #171.


Other interesting names from the series include Anya, Dawn, Forrest, Glory, & Oz.




Echo:  Real name Caroline


Hoban Washburne “Wash


Jayne: Interesting because Jayne is a guy in the series.  What do you think about the name Jayne for a boy?

Kaywinnit LeeKaylee”:  Kaywinnit is a first.  Any Firefly fans know anything about her name?

Malcolm: “Mal

River TamSimon’s sister

Serenity:  This is not the name of a character, but the name of the spacecraft.  Serenity is ranked at #58 for 2012.



Characters aren’t the only people Joss Whedon gives interesting names too.  Whedon and wife Kai Cole named their children Arden Cole (boy) and Squire Cole (girl).

What is your favorite Whedon- inspired name? 

Sarah Douglas is the author of Bold Baby Names and shares her finds from birth announcements on her name blog, Names4real.


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Sarah Douglas is the author of Bold Baby Names and shares her finds from birth announcements on her name blog, Names4real.
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19 Responses to “Joss Whedon’s World of Names”

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ninanoo Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 5:31 am

I’m shocked no one has responded yet after all the hoopla on the other thread.

So of Joss Whedons names, the ones I really like are:

Echo (for a boy. The guy on Lost pulled it off Amazingly well.)
Boyd (Cute little boy Boyd on Last Man Standing.)

I also think Squire is cute! But I’d have given it to a boy. lol

As for whither or not Jayne is good for a guy. Strangely… i think it works! It sounds a lot like Shane, Blain, Cain, and Dain.

bluejuniper Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 6:51 am

Echo is probably my favourite Joss Whedon name, although I also love November from ‘Dollhouse’ too. Just not sure I’d use it as a first name though!

I also had a huge crush on the names Xander, Willow and Faith when ‘Buffy’ was on -I’m not surprised the show gave them a boost.

Mclevine Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 7:49 am

I am lucky I opened this post: so many wonderful names!
My favorites will be Lindsey for a boy(so refreshing), Winifred (love this and Fred for a nickname sounds interesting), Elizabeth nn Buffy(I find Buffy quite cool though it may be not ready for a comeback yet) , River, Liam(GP) and Serenity.
And as for Jayne on a boy…Sorry, not a fan. Maybe that’s just because I love Jane for a girl.
Thanks for very interesting blog!

Maerad Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 7:51 am

Whedon has forever given me the guilty pleasure of Jayne for a boy!
I’m a massive Joss fan and I thinlk my ultimate list of names would be Simon (Firefly), Victor (Doll House), Sierra (Doll House), River (Firefly) and Kaylee (Firefly).
I’m not sure I could ever use Kaywinnit, and sadly I don’t know anything about the full name. The actress’ name is Jewel though, which is interesting in itself.
In Doll House it’s always pleased me that all the ‘Dolls’ were named after the phonetic alphabet – Alpha, Delta, Echo, Kilo, November, Sierra, Victor etc.

Great article! I’ll be referencing this when I graduate from name nerd to expecting parent! (May be some time, but even so!).

Names4real Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 8:23 am

Thanks everyone!

@ninanoo I think Squire works great for a boy too!

@bluejuniper Ugh. I missed November. That’s a great addition.

@Mclevine, I think if someone goes with Buffy then Elizabeth nn Buffy would be the way to go.

@Maerad, I didn’t watch Dollhouse so I didn’t know the ‘Dolls’ names. Thanks!

author in writing Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 9:08 am

The great unmentioned names: Justine, November, Reynolds, Persephone, Lilah, Rupert, Jules, Holden, Priya, Tara, (Chris)Topher, Penny…and from his new tv series, Leo and Jemma!

And my favorites: Willow! (why so popular… 🙁 ), Wesley, Anya, Winifred, Illyria, Justine, Malcolm. If I was a parent, I’d most surely be a geek parent.

GrecianErn Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 am

Wow – great post!!!

My faves:
Buffy: Drusilla, Riley (on a boy), and Glory (for a July 4th baby)
Angel: Liam, Cordelia (on our list), and Lilah
Firefly: Inara, Simon, and River (though River is probably more of a Doctor Who thing for me.)

I love @author in writing ‘s mention of Holden, Jules, and Leo… but I don’t know what show they are from.

auroradawn Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Aha! I had wondered whether Joss was his real first name, and, if not, what was. Joseph, hm? Joss is a pretty cool nickname. So now I’m wondering if the other guys out there who go by Joss (i.e. Joss Ackland) are also Josephs. I’ll have to look it up. (I was secretly hoping some of them might really be Jocelyn. That’s one of my guilty pleasures for a guy.)

About the character names–I’m here admitting the only Joss Whedon project I’ve seen is The Avengers, and obviously he didn’t name those characters, so I have no associations to any of these names. But just on the face of it, for the most part they’re pretty cool. Liam/Angel/Angelus intrigues me. Other favorites:
Lindsay (pretty cool on a guy!)
Caroline, called Echo (pretty cool)
Hoban Washburne “Wash” (though if I met a guy called Wash, I might assume his name was Washington)

I also like Arden and Squire, though I’d have assumed Squire was a boy. It’s not so good on a girl, IMO.

Brigid16 Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I dearly love Malcolm. It has the nickname options of Mal or Mac!
Simon’s a great one. And don’t forget Zoe, Bridget/Saffron, Patience, Lenore, and the planet Miranda.

I love Giles, Cordelia, and Caroline, though I don’t think of them as “Whedon names.”

MissElizabeth Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 1:59 pm

The problem for those of us who are big fans of Whedon’s work is that the names are often so closely linked to the characters. I’d loved to use Cordelia but it’s just to closely linked to Cordelia Chase for me.

Charisma Carpenter goes by CC in her personal life.
Joss is short for Joseph and he has (half) brothers named Jed and Zack.

Does anyone else think naming a girl Squire is confusing enough to be a little mean? I once spent two hours running around sorting out paper work for a student who had been put in the system under the wrong gender.

MeleriHaf Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I love River on a girl. I think it’s funny that the Rivers I’ve seen on TV are girls, but I have only ever met little boy Rivers in real life.

I always thought (but this is just a feeling, there is no basis for it) that Kaywinnet was a kind of bird.

My dad’s name is Lindsey. Trust me, don’t name a boy Lindsey now. People have refused to believe that he is who he says he is until he pulls out a photo i.d.

And remember, Shepherd isn’t a name in Firefly; it’s a religious title like Father or Bishop. 🙂

IndianRuby Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I love Arden on boy! Willow, Xander, Connor, Cordelia and Illyria are lovely as well.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Love Cordelia and Winifred!

Echo and Drusilla would be interesting to see, but I’ve now seen quite enough Xanders and Willows to satisfy me … sometimes it seems these were the only names that parents took to.

LexieM Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 10:32 pm

@auroradawn British singer/songwriter/actress Joss Stone (very sexy lady) is a Jocelyn.

Love the Joss Whedon homage to names.

I also really like Atherton (Firefly), Jubal (Firefly), Patience (Firefly), Veruca (Buffy – and yes I know), and Whiskey (Dollhouse).

author in writing Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 11:44 pm

@GrecianUrn: Jules and Holden are from Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods (which I haven’t seen yet!) and Leo is from the upcoming Agents of Shield show (which nobody has seen yet… 😉 )

tori101 Says:

May 23rd, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Great post/blog!

From these I love Connor, Cordelia, Faith, Willow, Xander, Adelle (I’d only use one ‘l’ though) and Simon.

I really dislike the idea of Jayne for a guy. It’s weird especially as Jayne/Jane is the female variant of John so why don’t you name him John?

It’s like naming your son Charlotte instead of Charles.

DracoDrake Says:

May 23rd, 2013 at 1:59 pm

My middle name is Harmony, but I was born when Joss was a kid. 🙂 However, our baby was going to be named Malcolm Frost, after the character & the poet, but he just looked like a Felix, so he’s Felix Malcolm. Yes, he’s named after Captain Mal. 🙂

klgglasgow Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 8:38 am

Another beautiful name (but horrible character…played by the lovely Christina Hendricks) from Firefly is Saffron…Great blog post! I really enjoyed it.

JessicaRK467 Says:

November 9th, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I loved the name Priya! It was Sierra’s real name on Dollhouse.

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