Monday, February 8, 2016

MopDog Monday: Hungarian names for all your fantasy novel needs

It is a running joke in Hungary that George R. R. Martin used "exotic" Hungarian names for a fantasy novel - both János (as in Janos Slynt) and Sándor (as in Sandor Clegane) are very common names in our little corner of the world.
This also explains why most of us refer to the Hound as "Sanyi."

But why stop there? Aren't you tried of Anglo-Saxon/Celtic sounding fantasy names yet? Well, in case you are, here is a list of bona fide Hungarian(ish) names that you can pick to use in your epic fantasy that will topple Game of Thrones from the top of the charts.

Or, you know, whatever.

The list is incomplete and very subjective. I was trying to pick some that would sound nice/funny/interesting to English speaking people. If you want more, click here.

Girl names:
You will notice that a lot of them end with -ka or -ke. This is a common way in Hungarian to make endearing nicknames, or add "little" to the name's meaning. 

Aporka - female version of a male name meaning father (also a family name)
Aranka - nickname from "arany" which means gold. Thus, the Hungarian equivalent of Aurelia
Bíborka - recent revival of an older name, means both purple and an expensive type of cloth (think Tyrian purple)
Boglárka - popular and recent, from the word that means buttercup
Boróka - nickname for Borbála (Barbara) and also accidentally means juniper
Csenge - this is my name, so obviously any character you use it for has to be awesome by definition.
Csilla - literary creation from "csillag" which means star. Very popular (pronounced with a ch).
Dalma - both a male and a female name, literary creation
Emese - old Hungarian name, has a motherhood-related meaning
Enikő - literary creation from an older name; fairly popular. Incidentally, the Hungarian name of the Flintstones girl child (because "kő" means stone).
Eperke - "little strawberry"
Etelka - a literary creation from a male name.
Gyöngyvirág - if you really want to be cruel to your English-speaking readers (means lily of the valley)
Hajnal(ka) - "(little) dawn"
Hanga - Hungarian for heather
Ilona - the Hungarian version of Helena, except prettier. Also the name of our Fairy Queen
Jolán(ta) - both a name of Hungarian origin, and the Hungarian version of Violante
Málna - means raspberry
Mandula - Literally means almond, famously one of the lovers of the ill-fated King László IV.

Boy names:

Álmos - literally translates into "sleepy," but actually means "dreamed of," name of one of our ancient chiefs whose birth was heralded by a dream
Bánk - a name with a dark cultural connotation, and nothing to do with money
Béla - vampire enthusiasts probably already know this one
Botond - old Hungarian name of a hero that wrecked the gates of Byzantium. Meaning related to mace.
Farkas - means wolf (or something else with a tail)
Győző - again, in case you need a name to mess with English-speaking readership (means victor, winner)
Hunor - traditionally, the ancestor of the Huns
Huba - origin unknown, one of our ancient chiefs
Lehel - the badass guy that killed that other guy with a horn, probably means something soul-related
Levente - popular name, also incidentally an older word used for soldiers
Magor - traditionally, the ancestor of the Hungarians (Magyar)
Nemere - recently created archaic-sounding name, means restless, stirring
Soma - newer name created from the word for dogwood, the Hungarian equivalent of Cornelius
Szabolcs - old Hungarian name of contested origins, and fun to ask English-speakers to pronounce

If you want to read more about the strangeness of Hungarian naming customs, click here for an earlier post.

And now, let the Hungarian conquest of fantasy worlds begin!


  1. I looked and thought forever for unique names for a children's story I have written. However, I settled for an extinct surname in English. This is a good idea. It is actually very hard to create a new unknown name.

  2. I've been in love with Hungarian names since I discovered them in the spring of '95, when I was fifteen. I love both the full names and all the neat nickname forms, as well as how many accent marks there are.

    1. I thought you'd like this post :) I'm looking forward to your A to Z theme this year!