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Lady Pounce of Whiskerrun

Origin and Meaning of Westerosi Names

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Apologies if this has been covered before, but I would be interested in learning about the origins and meanings of at least some of the more common names of Westerosi characters. For example, several significant characters are named "Jon." IRL, "John" means "Graced by Yahweh"; what does "Jon" mean in Westeros?

Similarly, we see the syllable "san" show up in "Sansa" and "Sandor"; does that have any meaning or significance? What about the variations on "Edd" such as Edric, Eddison, and Eddard?

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Really? Interested in that? Like you thought of this and wondered about it? For a while? Like a minute? And you thought, maybe, "I wonder what George R.R. Martin has decided the names of his characters mean." That is, instead of: "I wonder if George R.R. Martin of all things decided upon name meanings?" Also, what is your favorite wind speed when it comes to watching blades of grass bend?

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This isn't necessarily an invalid question - there may not be meanings behind the names of every single character, but it's not unusual for an author to attach significance to the names of major characters.

I.E. JK Rowling actually went through and looked up the Celtic birthdays of Harry/Ron/Hermione and assigned the appropriate "wood" associated with these birthdays to their specific wands.

I'm not sure about name origins in the sense that say, "Cecilia" is related to St. Cecilia/blindness/musical creativity in Western naming traditions, but there certainly is a significance to names in ASOIAF.

Sansa takes on the name Alayne Stone as her alter ego in the Vale - "Alayne" is the name of LF's grandmother, and a means through which he attempts to "appropriate" her, or pretend that she is truly his daughter, not Ned's. Stone, while a common bastard name for the Vale, is also a reference to Sansa's now hidden identity - it can also be seen as a sign of Sansa learning to hide her true intentions, to mask herself and be as unreadable as "stone."

When she is asked to give herself a new identity, Arya chooses "Cat of the Canals" which is not only a subconscious juxtaposition with her "wolf" identity that she gives up, but also a reference to her mother, Catelyn, who is called "little cat" by Hoster Tully.

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Really? Interested in that? Like you thought of this and wondered about it? For a while? Like a minute? And you thought, maybe, "I wonder what George R.R. Martin has decided the names of his characters mean." That is, instead of: "I wonder if George R.R. Martin of all things decided upon name meanings?" Also, what is your favorite wind speed when it comes to watching blades of grass bend?

Well you're just a pleasant and well mannered person aren't you. Guess what, people are interested in all kinds of little details, not all of which may be of interest to you.

Back on topic, many writers do go in to that level of detail with their worldbuilding, Tolkien probably being the most notable example, but I don't think that GRRM has of will. Although I do suspect that we will get some background info on why certain names are more common, ie. famous historical figures and such.

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As poking a little fun, making a little goof, a jape, a jib, jibe - is of interest to me.

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Names are of interest to me at least. There seems to be at least four sources for language in Westeros: Old Tongue (First Men), Common Tongue (Andals), Rhoynar (Dornish), Valyrian (Targaryens and other foreigners) - and I think most of the languages come from these sources.

Years ago, I wondered if Robb Stark was named after Robert Baratheon, with perhaps a First Men-touch to change the name ("Eddard" and "Robb" both having the double-letter thing going on). Although since then, I've learned of the existence of the only other Robb in Westeros - Ser Robb Reyne of the Blackfyre Rebellion. So, Robb appears to be an Andal name that Robb Stark picked up, presumably from his mother. If Robb Reyne is the only famous Robb in history, though, what does that say of Eddard naming hs firstborn after a Westermen knight on the wrong side of the Blackfyre Rebellion? Was he making a statement of his newfound hatred of the Lannisters by naming his heir after a legendary Reyne (their defeated enemy) who also rebelled against the Targaryens?

If Robb and Robert are both Andal names, that implies a likely etymological origin. And we also see Robett (double-letter!) Glover in the North and a slew of Robins and one Robyn, although the latter two may be named after the bird.

Brandon is obviously an old, old First Men name, used over and over again by the Starks (and, incidentally, once by the Tallharts and a couple times by the Norreys). Out of curiosity, I looked up the Old English meaning, and it means "broom (or gorse) hill," as in a hill covered in shrubs. Something one would see alot of in Winterfell, I imagine. It's exclusively a Northman name, but we see the famous variant "Brynden" solely in the Riverlands (Tully, Blackwood, the Great Bastard Brynden Rivers).

As stated in the OP, there is no other Sansa or Sandor than the ones we know and love, and the only other "San" (saint?) I can find is from the Dornish House Santagar. If it's Dornish, San might even just be a shortened form of "sand". Sansa may have been given a Dornish name based on her father's journeys to Dorne.

To round out the Stark children (oh yeah, Rickon is a form of Rickard and related to Dickon), I imagine Arya, another name without equal, may be related to Arys (Oakheart), a name from the Reach or even Areo (Hotah), a Norvosi name, likely with Rhoynish routes.

The "ae" lettering is used so often in Valyrian names, that I'm convinced it's its own letter in High Valyrian.

Regarding the Lannisters, we see a really interesting thing with the "Ty-" prefix. Known Lannisters include Tya, Tybolt, Tygett, Tyrek, Tyrion, Tytos, and Tywin. The earliest Lannister is Lady Tya from around 190 (and Lord Tybolt twenty years later, followed eventually by Lords Tytos and Tywin). Similar names are later used in the Stormlands (Tyane Wylde) and of course elsewhere amongst the Westermen (Tytos Brax, Tybolt Crakehall, Tybolt Hetherspoon, lovely Tysha), all probably from the same source (Tya married a Baratheon). That source being: the Free Cities: Second sons mercenary Tybero Istarion and the Braavosi Tycho Nestoris show Tys existing independent of Westeros, and the ancient Valyrian city of Tyria (and harbor city of Tyrosh) may show us the etymological origin of these names.

The name Tyene (one of the Sand Snakes) is found in Dorne, either imported from Westermen influence or traced back to the Tya/Tyane name from the nearby Stormlands. The other Sand Snakes have Rhoynish/Dornish-sounding names (Obara, Nymeria, Elia, Sarella), or even names from the far East (Dorea), that might lead credence to the "Ty-" = Essosi origin. The Ironmen also have a Ty (Tymor), although that's probably due to their proximity to the Westerlands. The Freys have a couple new Tys (Tyta, Tysane), but they get their names from everywhere.

I'm really curious as to why the only Ty son of Tywin, son of Tytos (possible son or grandson of Tybolt) is his third, misshapen child Tyrion. Why wasn't Jaime a "Ty-something"? Jaime may be connected to his mother Joanna, but even if that's true, you'd think Tyrion would have been given a non-Ty name at the least. I guess it's possible that Tyrion was named before birth. I'm not sure what the Westerlands custom is. I find it interesting, and perhaps fitting that Tyrion seems almost directly named after the ruined city of Tyria, a Valyrian city on the Smoking Sea that Tyrion may someday visit.

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~snip~

welcome to forums!

And that's a very interesting (and thorough) analysis - if you ever get a chance to more comprehensively track the naming of Martin's characters, I would be interested in reading an OP on it :P

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Regarding "Sandor": this is common hungarian name (Country in Europe). I don't know it's meaning, but I'm also fan of idea that sounds of a name is more important than its (possible) roots...

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When I write I try to link it etymologically to foreshadow an event, then slightly warp the name to hide its meaning and fit the customs of the world. But first and foremost the name has to sound right for the character in my opinion. Sometimes you just create them independent of the real world and born purely from the fictional one. Basically a lot will have meanings a lot will not.

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