Good Names for a Country?


#1

By far one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve had to face while writing high and low fantasy is that it’s so hard to come up with names for kingdoms, tribes, clans, countries, etc. Personal names are easy, I could go on all day.

But names for countries are entirely different. I’m the type of person that wants their characters and the places they inhabit to have meaningful names. I think the Fire Emblem series has done a wonderful job in the past years on using meaningful names for their countries, and the series is why I’m so into etymology.

Also, a minor disclaimer: I am not talking about personal names for characters, but names for kingdoms and nations, so hopefully this won’t get confused with another thread.


#2

A lot of early names were synonymous for “us” vs them. Start with a person from that tribe/realm and then picture them naming themselves to an outsider, rinse and repeat for each tribe you make.

Kingdoms were invariable named after the dynasties that began them… as were empires. Sometimes they kept the dominant tribal name as the kingdom or empire name.

It is very much like naming the individual character only more restrictive.


#3

That’s really helpful, thanks!


#4

I will post a list of country names with meaning, I hope this help you.

-Altaria the high one
-Leon brave one
-kajin treacherous one
-Regalia royal one
-Alma the spiritual one
-Corada the clean one
-invierno the winter country
-Muralla the one with great walls

For the tribes I think is good something like two words I mean:

Black mare
Great tiger
Flaming flamingos
Etc


#5

On that note, a lot of very early names for countries also took the dominant landscape feature (Plains, River, Hill Country, sorts of things) or from a prominent deity of the culture.

There are also a few different ways of looking at how foreign nations are named - @Zolataya’s system (which is fabulous) of using the actual tribal names for various countries is one. Then, there’s the common modern system of using vaguely-related linguistic constructs from your native speech of choice.

In English, for instance, there’s Wales instead of Cymru, Wales being a broadened latinisation of a Celtic tribal name.

And there’s Holland instead of het Nederlands - which, the history of the country’s name is unusually complex, even for countries, but it has traces of both the ‘people’ and ‘geography’ concepts depending on which word one is tracing.

And so forth!

The second method, taking the meanings and using the native language in question, is mostly what I’ve been using to rename all the countries mentioned in my current WiP. It’s fun because just translating across three or four languages can end up with really fascinating results.


#6

You shouldn’t even have to ask


#7

This Land. Best Name ever. :relaxed:

@Zolataya give good suggestion there, and also try looking into the history of real countries to see where they came from. America, for instance, was named after a fellow who showed that, no, this is not India, but rather a whole New World - Amerigo Vespucci, or in Latin, Americus Vespucius. :relaxed:

Iceland’s name is rather uncertain, but it may have to do with the fact if you approach the island from the south-east you see a glacier before much anything else.

And so on. Quite fascinating, really, this subject. :blush:


#8

Kathana - if it’s warrior or more brutal country, as the strong ‘k’ sound would help convey that each time the reader reads the name inside their head

Cevaka- again, soft c sound. Unless these are suppossed to be modern, instead of fantastical and mythical.


#9

So we have countries named after the geography, or notable people.

They can also be named after their relative position. (Japan(Nihon): 日(sun)本(origin); because Japan’s east of China.)

Countries named for stuff that happened there. (Côte d’Ivoire, for instance, named for the prevalent ivory trade in that area.)

Or in honor of their rulers, founders, or gods. (Disneyland)

Same concepts apply to non-countries. Sahara comes from the Arabic word for desert. So, we have the Desert desert.

And then we have C.S. Lewis, who took the name Narnia from an atlas, apparently.


#10

It depends. What is your inspiration for the kingdoms?
What did you based them from? Germanic, English, Scottish, etcetera, etcetera…

Look at ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, the counties in the Arryn’s Vale has names like the Eyrie, Runestone, Gates of the Moon, Ninestars, etcera. They have these sort of celestial, misty and hidden theme to them.
They key is to have a theme and try to stay consistent.

Show me the map and tell me where you based kingdoms from, or your description for them and I could help you.


#11

Yes, this will do too.

You can use the alternative/poetic names of real countries.Or use the real name and change the wordings. There are some examples you can use.

England - Albion
France - Gallia
Spain - Hesperia
Japan - Nihon/Nippon
China - Zhonghua


#12

Go onto google maps, pick a place, and zoom in. Pick whatever small town name you want. I personally prefer the middle east, Turkey especially, just because of the huge blend of cultures.


#13

@Sampl15’s advice is good, but I urge anyone who wants to follow it to find out the meaning of the names they find. I’m sure other nations have place names like these as well, and it would be embarrassing to use them.


#14

Sorry for not replying to everyone on here, but you all have really great advice, I appreciate it! Does anyone have other good websites to use (aside from Behindthename) for really obscure names? I keep running into the same names on different websites with little or no variation.

@WulfyK Don’t forget about the Batman province in Turkey.


#15

Now names per se, but it is a nice place to find weird words that might kick-start something for you:

http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/unuwords.htm

Good hunting! :relaxed:


#16

I guess I could give a few names of a game I played long ago. One of them has a lot of meaning for me and represents and is the name of guilds/teams/groups and the like in group communities and always my personal nation name in every game.

Cesedria
Netzaware
Yelsord
Hordaine
Gevrandia


#17

These are some really cool names! I especially like Gevrandia!:blush:


#18

You can also take almost any term and affix -stan to it.
Like Instabilistan Amsterdistan Havensistan Nonsensistan Suffixistan etc.


#19

I really, really like Nonsensistan.

That’s an interesting idea, suffixes. Depending on the setting, I suppose one could also use -wold, -wich, -on, -wall, and of course -land.


#20

Yep, suffixes. Then there’s a last category of possibilities, the (Con)Federation the Empire the Hegemony (how could I forget the villains of Xor here) and the Republic, usually reserved for states so large, old and/or powerful that almost nobody uses the official long name for them anymore in regular conversation.