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Scary Stardust Names

posted by: emilygc3 View all posts by this author

By Emily Cardoza, Nothing Like a Name

For our final Halloween-themed blog, Emily Cardoza focuses on the characters in Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel Stardust —complete with witches!

The book is an adventure story through a magical land, packed with action, romance and humor. The film version – made in 2007 – is also a great family film.

Rather than reimagine the names of the characters as I usually do, I’ll be focusing on the already-excellent names in the book (and a few from the movie).

Let’s begin!
Yvaine
The origin of this name may very well be from Neil Gaiman”s Stardust! While Yvain was used in Chrétien de Troyes’ medieval texts as a form of Eugene (“well-born”), Yvaine is listed in a few places as meaning “evening star,” from Gaiman’s book. It’s a lovely combination of Yvonne and Elaine, and not too far from boys’ favorite Evan. The character in the story is strong and stunning – not a bad namesake for any child.

Tristan
The name Tristan of course calls to mind the doomed romance of Tristan and Isolde, but our protagonist in the fantasy novel has a different fate. The name came into use in the US in the 1970’s, and is currently ranked at #101 – not uncommon by any means. However, the nice sound and similarity to favorite Christian will probably continue the popularity trend. The meaning is “sorrowful,” but Tristan, to me, connotes a hero.

Dunstan
Meaning “dark stone,” Dunstan sounds like a cool combination of retro Duncan and trendy Austin – classic but also modern, in a way. The character in the book is a supportive and loving father, wishing his love Una would come back to him. If you like Dustin, but think it’s a little passé, consider Dunstan!

Una
A personal name crush, Una fits in with the rest of the old-fashioned three-letter names returning to the charts – Ava, Ivy, Ida. Depending on its origin, it can mean “one” or “lamb” – either is cute. In Stardust, Una is the name of Tristan‘s mother, held captive by an evil witch. It also has an unusual first initial, if you’re looking for some uniqueness – and sister spelling Oona isn’t bad either.

Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus, Septimus
These are the names of the princes, alive and dead, who are vying for the crown in Stardust. I’m grouping them together since each is a “number name.” Names like these are more personal – some people have favorite or lucky numbers, so using one of these names would be a great honorific. Though I’d suggest staying away from Sextus. Check out this Nameberry article for more number names!

The Witches – Lamia, Mormo and Empusa
The book version of Stardust doesn’t give names to these characters, but the film does – and only Lamia has etymology information available. She was a monstrous figure in Greek mythology. I wouldn’t suggest any of these for children, but if you’re looking for character name inspiration, these are really fun to play around with.

I didn’t include every name from the book – any favorites that I missed? Or are fantasy names not strong enough to stand up to a real-life attendance sheet? Tell me what you think in the comments!

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3 Responses to “Scary Stardust Names”

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ciottolo Says:

October 30th, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Mormo and Empusa (spelt otherwise as Empousa) are both from Greek mythology as well! Empousa was the beautiful flame-haired daughter of Hecate, goddess of magic, who used to seduce young men and then drink their blood. In medieval times, she was depicted with flaming red hair and often with one brass and one donkey’s leg (because of the meaning of her name: “one-footed”). In later Greek mythology, the empousai were the spirits who guarded the roadsides, due to the ancient association of Hecate (and then witchcraft in general) with crossroads. Mormo, Empousa’s father, is a spirit who is said to have bitten children when they were naughty.

Dearest Says:

October 31st, 2015 at 2:57 am

Yvaine is a gem 🙂
I know he’s called Tristan in the film, but in the book he’s called Tristran with an extra R.
I love that Una named him after his father!

londonspys Says:

March 15th, 2017 at 4:51 am

Yvaine and Una are such lovely names, very graceful names. They’re also great in the context of the characters, both very likable and role-model type characters. Ugh, I love Stardust.

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