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Character Names

by The Editor Company   



A name is of some value, despite the assertion of the venerable Avon bard. In stories its value can be reckoned in dollars and cents.

The young and inexperienced writer has a habit of calling his hero Reginald, or Claude, or perhaps Adolphus, while the heroine glories under the disguise of Evalina, or Magnolia, or even Dolly. As signs of inexperience, it is best to avoid these euphonious appellations, for no rational being could conceive of a Claude or an Adolphus capering merrily through a story; or of an Evalina or a Magnolia doing else than fanning herself and saying gently: "This is so sudden!" As for Dolly, it has been done to death, and it smacks so much of imitation that it is well to slip out of the rut.

Van Bibber was a likable, egotistical fellow, and he carried out the promise of his name. Because Richard Harding Davis called his hero Van Bibber, however, is no reason for a writer making every character that moves in society, and every lord and lady, a Van Somebody. Call them plain Smith, if you will, but do not bow down to the Van. It irritates the editor who reads your story.

There is a great power in a well chosen name, on the other hand, and it adds to the strength of the story. Names that are similar to those of characters in popular books should be avoided, as readers are apt to link a name with a character, and ever afterward associate the one with the other. A weak name suggests a weak character, and no amount of description can overcome the prejudice conjured up by the reader. Names that are evidently chosen to emphasize a description are poor makeshifts. Who cares to read about the kind individual when he is called Mr. Goodheart? or about the villain whose mates address him as Evilmind?

<>It is true that stories in which a Dolly, for instance, figures prominently, often find a market, but the reason for their acceptance lies in the strength of the story rather than in the name of the girl. Indeed, the chances are that the editor scowled at Miss Dolly, and would have rejected the manuscript were one of equal merit, in which some other girl figured as heroine, offered him at the same time. As for the high-sounding names, no writer of enough ability to concoct a readable story ever uses them. Everyday names suggest real characters, and naturalness is the Mecca of story tellers.

So christen the children of your imagination with proper regard for the feelings of the editors who are to adopt them. Unless you are a genius, you will have trouble enough selling your stories without such a handicap.


Women are especially sensitive to names, and the naming of the characters in fiction has much to do with the impression those characters make upon the public—the feminine portion of it at least. As every one knows, there is a fashion in names. People born over fifty years ago are apt to be called such names as Emily, Jane, Martha, Eliza, or Hannah. Then came in the period of diminutives and Minnie, Bessie, Nellie, Hattie, and Tessie became common. Following that time, a romantic season inflicted upon helpless femininity such appellations as Guinevere, Gladys, Ethelind, Gwendoline, Novine, and Marguerite. Then came the reaction and we have now gone back to the more euphonious of the old-fashioned names, as Margaret, Elizabeth, Esther, Janet, Lucia, etc.

If we are to credit current fiction, the ultra-smart set just now are calling each other Betty, Dolly, Peggy, etc.

People of strong family pride bestow family surnames upon their daughters such as Brooke, Russell, Brownell, Vernon, Leslie, Lyndall, Lyle, Lisle, Sidney, Shirley, Brandon, Vincent, Stuart, Ritchie, Percival, Browning, Dale, Dean, Raymond, etc.

Your character may be named from the time or place of her birth, as May, Maia, June, Augusta, Columbia, Georgia, Florida, Florence, Valencia, Venice, Scotia, Centennia, Athena, Virginia, India, or Autumn.

She may be named for her father: Alexine, Alexandra, Avery, Allison, Alberta, Alfreda, Caroline, Charlotte, Carlotta, Claudia, Clementine, Edgarda, Edwards, Edwina, Egberta, Ethelberta, Ellis, Frances, Francesca, Frederica, Georgiana, Geraldine, Hermia, Hermione, Haroldine, Hilaria, Harriet, Henrietta, Herminie, Jeannette, Jacqueline, Jean, Jamesina, Josepha, Josephine, Juliana, Juliet, Justina, Justine, Kent, Lynne, Lorraine, Leigh, Lee, Leonelle, Lindell, Merrill, Nar-ence, Ottoine, Ottilie, Octavia, Percy, Paula, Paulette, Pauline,

Philippa, Quentina, Randall, Roslyn, Starr, Stephana, Theodora, Antoinette, Thomasa, Thomasine, Ulrica, Victorine, Vic-torelle, Gabrielle, Wilhelmina, Willa, Ernestine, Eugenia, Erica, Julien, Wilberta, Roberta, Vida, and Bernardine.

Then there are the flower names. For the rose, Rhoda, Rose, Rosibel, Rhodope, Rosalind, Rosamond, Rosalie, Rosalia, Rosella, Rosine, Rosetta, and Roxana.

The lily names are Sue, Susan, Suzette, Suzanne, Lillie, Lillian, and Lilias.

The violet is represented by Viola, Violet, Violette, Violetta, Muriel, and Yolande.

The pink is Ianthe or Diantha; while the daisy is Mar-guerita. Other flower names are Mignonette, Fern, Jasmine, Jessamine, Narcissa, Iris, and Myrtle.

The gems used are Margaret or Pearl, Opal, Agate, Amber, Garnet, Beryl, and Jacynthe.

<>Here are a few definitions which assist to attach the right name to a character. Abigail, my father's joy; Adaline, Ada, Adela, Adelia, Adeline, Alice, and Alicia, of noble birth, a princess ; Adelaide, a princess; Agnes, Inez, chaste, pure; Agatha, good, kind; Amabel, lovable; Amy, beloved; Angelica, Angela, Angelina, Angelique, Angelice, Angola, Angiola, lovely, angelic; Aurora, the morning; Barbara, foreign; Beatrice, Beatrix, making happy; Blanche, Bianca, Blanca, white; Bona, good; Cassandra, she who inflames with love; Catherine, Katherine, pure; Clara, Claire, bright, clear; Clarice, Clarissa, clear; Constance, firm, constant; Cora, Corinne, Corinna, maiden; Dorothy, Dorothea, Theodora, Theodosia, the gift of God; Enid, Psyche, the soul; Edith, happiness; Editha, rich gift; Bernice, bringing victory; Ellen, Elinor, Eleanor, Leonore, Lenore, Helen, Helena, light; Elizabeth, Eliza, Isabel, consecrated to God; Esperance, hope; Esther, Hester, Estelle, Stella, a star, good fortune; Eva, Zoe, life; Evangeline, bringing glad news; Felicia, Felice, Felicitas, happiness; Florence, blooming; Grace, Gracia, Gratia, favor; Honora, Honoria, honor; Irene, Salome, peaceful; Joyce, sportive; Judith, praised; Lois, good ; Lucy, Lucia, Lucinda, born at daybreak; Mary, Marie, Maria, star of the sea; Matilda, Maude, heroine; Melicent, sweet singer; Myra, she who weeps ; Octavia, the eighth born; Ophelia, serpent; Olympia, heavenly; Phebe, pure; Rebecca, Rebekah, of enchanting beauty; Ruth, beauty; Roxana, dawn; Sara, Sarah, a princess; Sibyl, a prophetess; Vivien, Vivienne, Vivian, vivacious; Winifred, a lover of peace; Zenobia, having life from Jupiter; Vera, true. <>Other names are Anice, Amine, Annabel, Amelia, Amanda, Avis, Avice, Alix, Aldis, Adelgunda, Agnestra, Anita, Anne, Annette, Aradne, Aimee, Aida, Alethe, Amogen, Anastasia, Aileen, Averil, Avorcll, Avora, Avery, Amoret, Annulet, Aglaia, Ainslee, Annesley, Allison, Avoline, Ariadne, Alberta, Alfreda, Acrasia, Adriana, Alcina, Alsatia, Amaryllis, Armida, Aspasia, Astrea, Althea, Atossa, Audrey, Aurora, Avenel, Alma, Aline, Allegra, Ardis, Amicitia, Artemis, Bcata, Bonita, Bertha, Beulah, Belle, Beverly, Bettina, Bliss, Brownlee, Berenice, Belinda, Bradamante, Britomart, Camille, Camellia, Carmen, Coila, Cleopatra, Cara, Calla, Circe, Crystal, Carryl, Carol, Clovis, Clytie, Charmian, Cornelia, Cordelia, Christine, Capitola, Cedreth, Cosima, Clothilda, Ceres, Capelle, Clarita, Cecile, Cecily, Candida, Candace, Celia, Cecilia, Carroll, Celandine, Calista, Castara, Christiana, Christabel, Clorinda, Con-suelo, Cressida, Diana, Denise, Doris, Drina, Dorine, Dolores, Dorcas, Deborah, Dorinda, Drusilla, Dulcie, Dulcinea, Elaine, Eddith, Edna, Ethel, Ethelyn, Ethlyn, Emma, Emmeline, Eloine, Eloise, Ellaline, Evadne, Esmee, Eglantine, Elsa, Ellis, Elsir, Ereatha, Eunice, Euphemia, Eulalia, Emily, Elvira, Ethelind, Eudora, Emilia, Erminia, Erminie, Flora, Florette, Fiametta, Francesca, Frieda, Fannette, Fayette, Felicity, Faith, Favorita, Feodora, Fedora, Faustina, Fidelia, Fatima, Florimel, Garland, Godiva, Gertrude, Genevieve, Geneva, Geneova, Gemma, Gale, Gladys, Glen, Glendora, Gwendolin, Genoveva, Gloria, Gloriana, Goneril, Gulnare, Hertha, Haidee, Heloise, Hortense, Haroldine, Hilda, Hilma, Huldah, Hannah, Hedwig, Helga, Hildegarde, Hazel, Herminie, Hephzibah, Idell, Iolanthe, Irmengarde, Idanelle, Izetta, Idilla, Iva, Imogen, Iso-phene, Iris, Isis, Ione, Iola, Innes, Imelda, Istra, Ida, Iras, Jessamy, Jessica, Janet, Jennette, Jeannette, Janice, Jacqueline, Jacqueminot, Jetta, Juno, Joan, Julia, Juliet, Juliana, Juanita, Jemima, Jurusha, Kirke, Kathleen, Keturah, Keziah, Lutie, Luna, Lynetta, Lynette, Lyonors, Louine, Louise, Leota, Lor-etta, Lauretta, Leona, Lida, Lilith, Laurel, Lucille, Lindell, Lema, Leda, Leila, Lovena, Laura, Lucretia, Lucrece, Loris, Lesbia, Mignon, Minnetta, Mabel, Maude, Mildred, Mimosa, Mabrue, Myrrh, Margot, Minerva, Montez, Marian, Mehitable, Mahala, Marcia, Miriam, Marcella, Marcile, Mayne, Mariette, Monu, Memory, Mercedes, Maginel, Maribel, Marcelle, Madeline, Melissa, Miranda, Medora, Mariana, Michaella, Neithe, Nina, Ninita, Nannette, Nancy, Neva, Nella, Nelita, Ninon, Nanon, Nausikaa, Nerissa, Olive, Olivia, Onita, Olympia, Olga, Oriole, Orient, Ottilie, Oriana, Orinda, Pucelle, Percy, Pallas, Penina, Primrose, Paulette, Perdita, Pandora, Pyrrha, Portia, Peace, Prudence, Priscilla, Persis, Potentilla, Placida, Patience, Penelope, Phyllis, Pamela, Quentina, Rhita, Rita, Reva, Rosanella, Rachel, Rowena, Rosaline, Saidee, Silene, Sennette, Selma, Selina, Sheila, Shell, Stacey, Sylvia, Sabina, Senah, Sabrina, Salva, Sophia, Sophronia, Tamson, Tryphena, Try-phosa, Therese, Teresa, Toinette, Tabitha, Temperance, Tamora, Thekla, Titania, Ursula, Ulrica, Una, Urania, Vine, Vashti, Vida, Veronne, Venetia, Victoria, Venezia, Victorine, Victorelle, Veronica, Veronique, Valerie, Valentine, Vanessa, Varina, Violenta, Valeria, Wilhelmina, Winona, Wynette, Yvonne, Yvette, Yetta, Zara, Zora, Zaida, Zelia, Zelica, Zuleika, Zona, Zabel, Zanette, Zida, Zehna, Zatithe, Zolita.

With all these from which to choose, may not Margaret, Elizabeth, and Mary rest occasionally?